University of Florida: Where Fitness Is a Way of Life

Just one of the many fitness options at the University of Florida! Photo courtesy of UF RecSports, Facebook

The first time I saw the University of Florida campus in Gainesville, Fla., I was blown away by the number of people out running and biking…in January. I had come down from Michigan, and, well, let’s just say that not too many people were climbing over the snow drifts to get in a jog, you know?

Upon attending UF, I learned that the culture of physical fitness is an important aspect of the university, and it’s not only the moderate winter temperatures that encourage it. The University of Florida Department of Recreational Sports provides multiple indoor recreation facilities, nine fields, two pools, six outdoor court facilities and a gym.

Get Out of the Sun

The big draw for fitness enthusiasts is Southwest Recreation Center, a state-of-the-art, 140,000-square-foot facility with a 14,000-square-foot strength and conditioning room, six indoor basketball courts (which work very nicely for volleyball, I can say from experience), six racquetball courts, a multipurpose gym for indoor soccer, handball and basketball, a 15,000 square-foot split-level cardio room, and all the newest, most up-to-date equipment. There’s also a 1/9-mile indoor track, two massage therapy rooms, a personal training studio, a special fitness assessment center, three activity rooms, and a social lounge complete with flat screen televisions, WiFi and a smoothie bar.

If that’s not quite enough, there’s a second facility, the Student Recreation and Fitness Center, with a number of options, and students can always hit the weight room in the O’Connell Center. You know, where the Gators play.

Phew!

Enjoy the Florida Sunshine

Once you step outside (and, let’s be honest—many students choose UF for the sunny weather, including this one!), there’s even more fit fun to be had. Students can sweat it out on 32 tennis courts, five basketball courts, four racquetball/handball courts, three volleyball courts, a skate park and a roller hockey rink, not to mention numerous full-size fields for football and other outdoor sports. And, my personal favorite, nine sand volleyball courts where the competition, at least back in my day, was no joke.

If students go just a few miles south of campus, they’ll find Lake Wauburg, a park where students and faculty can enjoy the outdoors in as physically daunting or as relaxing a way as they please. There’s boating, water-skiing, a climbing wall, disc golf, and even more, and it’s all free for current students.

Get to Class!

As you’ve probably guessed, there are an enormous number of group fitness classes from which to choose (indoor, outdoor, cycling, strength, mind/body, etc.). Like, we’re talking more than 125 classes weekly. Not bad, right?

And that’s not the only learning available. UF’s Fitness Assessment Center provides students with a free assessment of their current fitness, and the staff is trained to help students use those results to improve their current lifestyle or sport.

Find a Team

Like most other universities, UF has a strong intramural sports program giving students, faculty and staff an opportunity to participate in a wide variety of sports at all different levels. Wondering what I mean by “wide variety”? This fall’s schedule includes indoor soccer, indoor volleyball, ultimate Frisbee, softball, flag football, kickball, racquetball, tennis and basketball. And that doesn’t even get into all the one-off tournaments held each semester.

Did you take advantage of programs and facilities like these when you were in college? Or, if you’re currently in school, how does this match up with your university’s fitness facilities? —Kristen



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