Wellness Center all about health

“You can get an education at the University of Miami, but you gain a life at the Wellness Center,” says Norman Parsons. “It doesn’t do us any good to be well-educated in a body that isn’t capable of lasting as long as it should.”

Parsons is director of the Smathers Wellness Center, built in 1996 at a cost of $14 million to provide more than 120,000 square feet of facilities for a total mind and body workout.

The Wellness Center offers a wide array of aerobics classes and specialized programs, as well as cardiovascular machines and weight-lifting equipment. Members enjoy year-round free daily locker use and racquetball/squash courts. Some popular amenities include the indoor track, the spa and saunas, the 25-yard pool, a cycling studio, a juice bar that serves healthful snacks, and courts for every sport you can think of.

A Wellness Suite on the second floor provides services such as personal training, CPR/First Aid certification, lifestyle management consultations, massage therapy, dietary analysis and even healthy-cooking demonstrations in an instructional kitchen. Prices for these services vary.

Also offered at an additional fee are the instructional programs. These range from TaiChi and salsa classes to racquetball, aqua aerobics, belly dancing, Pilates conditioning and traditional Chinese Exercises called Lian Gong.

This summer, two instructional programs were added: Hot Wheels, an indoor cycling class similar to spinning that provides a grueling cardiovascular workout, and a yoga program that offers three styles of yoga.

During the school year, instruction in more than 30 sports is available, with offerings as diverse as sailing, scuba diving, badminton, fencing and martial arts. The intramural sports program offers conventional team sports for men, women and co-recreational divisions along with tournaments in the evenings and weekends.

Beginning this fall, the Wellness Center will expand its evening hours and will be open Monday through Friday, from 6:30 a.m. to midnight and Saturday and Sunday from 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. The extended schedule is part of an effort by the university to keep students on campus. The Center is also considering offering students an alternative to going out on the town by hosting Thursday Night Live at the Wellness Center, with musicians, competitions and film screenings.

Another change coming this fall is the replacement of all the equipment in the fitness area downstairs. The new Magnum equipment, which is costing about $135,000, has a secondary weight stack so that users can do smaller increments of weight and achieve better exercises.

Besides providing fitness, the Wellness Center can help students earn some extra cash. More than 300 students are hired during the school year as personal trainers, class instructors or to work on the maintenance staff and referee in the intramural program.

“We couldn’t live without our student employees,” Parsons said. Incoming freshmen should get a head start in the interview process by sending an e-mail to wellness@miami.edu

The Wellness Center is located at 1241 Dickinson Avenue on the University of Miami Coral Gables campus. Full-time or part-time students, faculty members, alumni, retirees, trustees and Citizens Board members, as well as spouses and family members are eligible to purchase memberships. UM full-time undergraduate, graduate and day law students are assessed a fee of $99 per semester, while medical students are assessed an annual fee of $297. Faculty, staff and other UM community members pay per month, with prices depending on the amount of months purchased at one time. For additional information on the Wellness Center and the services it provides, visit www.miami.edu/wellness or call (305) 284-8500.