Wellness Center expansion set to begin this summer

Starting in May, the Wellness Center will undergo a 19,977 square foot expansion – its first since opening 12 years ago.

Though the project will begin during the 2008 summer break, students should expect construction disruptions continuing into the 2008-09 school year.

The fitness room at the core of the Wellness Center will be shut down for most of next academic year. During that time, Wellness Center Director Norman Parsons said the indoor gym adjacent to the fitness room will be the temporary home for the weights and cardio equipment. The quantities of that equipment will be determined by space.

Other closures may include the indoor pool, where windows will be replaced by doors, and the outdoor basketball courts, which will double as the staging area for construction.

Parsons said the improvements will cost an estimated $8.3 million, but the university is still “working on prospective donor funding,” he said, also noting that he does not think that tuition will increase based on the changes.

Though the expansion will cause disruption for returning students, many view the changes as an overall plus.

“Between 5 and 6 p.m. the Wellness Center is packed,” said Simone Branch, who has worked at the Wellness Center for a year. “Most people are out of class, they’ve eaten and most of the group exercise classes start around that time.”

For students looking for a less packed gym before expansion begins, early morning hours around 6 a.m. are the least crowded. Wellness Center workers estimate that although more alumni come early in the day, only about 30 students choose to workout before morning class. Also, WebMD says there is “no reliable evidence that suggests that calories are burned more efficiently at certain times of day.”

With all of the changes, the Wellness Center staff believes the expansion will create a healthier university community.

“The extra fitness room space and equipment will allow all patrons the opportunity to work out when they want,” Parsons said, also noting that he thinks this would “increase the fact that [people] will work out.”

Najwa-Monique Sharpe may be contacted at n.sharpe@umiami.edu.

Planned Additions

6,175 additional square feet in the fitness room, spanning the area from the fitness room to the indoor pool
More treadmills and elliptical machines
Two additional multipurpose rooms
A Pilates studio
A larger cycling room
Mounted TV monitors
Cardio machines with video screens