Students, administrators and gym-goers showed up at the George E. Smathers Wellness Center on Wednesday to “Catch the Wellness Wave,” the center’s sixth anniversary celebration.
Wellness Center director Norm Parsons kicked off the event.
“This is our sixth anniversary, however, it is also one of our open houses for the month,” Patty Swift, assistant director of Business and Marketing said.
The festivities included two-hour demonstrations on salsa dancing, belly dancing and hip-hop, some of the classes taught at the center. Members of Hui Aloha, the UM Hawaiian club, performed several hula dances.
It was like a luau with leis being provided to those who attended.
Food was also served, from low calorie fruit kabobs consisting of cantaloupe, watermelon, strawberries and grapes, to bruschetta and chicken tenders.
Mocktails were also provided, courtesy of BACCHUS.
The event also proved to be fun and worthwhile with a hula-hoop and limbo contest.
The hula-hoop contest seemed to go on forever with the last three contestants battling it out for the victory.
The gym’s oldest member, Richard Abarham, was also present to catch the last half of the celebration. He missed the first half because he was too busy doing his usual exercise regimen.
“I’m 91 years old, I’ve been here since the day it opened. I come here to swim every other day,” said Abraham, who is a UM professor emeritus.
“People here are so wonderful and the students are so polite, that’s why I love to come here,” he said. “Perhaps when I turn 95 they’ll give me a free membership.”
“I think the Wellness Center makes such a difference in the students lives,” said Patricia Whitely, Vice President for Student Affairs. “It makes them aware about how to live healthier lifestyles.”
“It also a way to bring the community together through educating them about nutrition and physical activity,” she added.
“This whole event was really a team effort,” she added. Whitely cutting and handing out the anniversary cake.
“It takes a lot of time, money, and student support to keep the Wellness Center looking in great condition. Thomas Reyes from UNICCO and his crew of six men clean the center from 10:30 at night until the next morning!” said Alan Rose, Assistant Director of Facilities.
“You don’t know they’re there, until they don’t do their job. They’re like the unsung heroes of the Center,” he added. The Wellness Center provides many opportunities for students and members of the community to stay healthy.
There are many programs and classes ranging from tai-chi, cooking, to aerobics.
For a small fee, students can even get a personal workout program by going through an assessment conducted by the Assistant Director of Fitness, Tony Musto.
“It’s impressive that a smaller school like UM could provide assessments like the one the Center provides,” Musto said.
Parsons reminisced about the time before the Wellness Center was built.
“In 1972 we raised $1.3 million to have the Lane Center Built here. In 1992 the students voted to allow the center fee to be included in their schedule of fees.”
In 1994, Parsons said, the Lane Center was torn down to build the Wellness Center.
“I’m just really happy that people are coming here to better themselves. From the day we opened, more than 2.5 million people have come through the Wellness Center doors.”
“I just want to emphasize how important it is to exercise and to establish good lifetime habits that directly affect our health,” he added.