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Wednesday, October 27, 2010

New Koepke Fitness Center expands campus wellness opportunities

by Christina Delgman

The new and improved Koepke Fitness Center.
The former Southy gymnasium got a makeover during summer break. The gym is now larger, has more equipment and has a modern look. In addition, the fitness center opens earlier for guests. Students and faculty can get in a morning workout before they start their days.
The fitness center has a new name to go with its new look. On Oct. 16, the gym's name changed from Southy to the Gene and Fran Koepke Fitness Center.  The Koepkes are long-time supporters of Cougar Athletics. The Koepke family is a part of the Cougar Club, Columbia College Athletic Hall of Fame committee and the Cougar Club steering committee, and they also are members of the institution's President's Society - Charter Circle, said Bryan Curtis, intramural coordinator and facility manager of Athletics.
The gym added some new equipment and replaced the outdated equipment, Curtis said. The new equipment includes six arc trainers, two stair climbers and new circuit equipment. They also have added more of the existing machines, such as treadmills, bikes and ellipticals. Along with new equipment, the fitness center now has locker rooms available to guests, and the athletic training room has been remodeled for the athletes, Curtis said. The gym now opens at 6 a.m. Monday through Thursday. Another addition in the gym is eight flat-screen televisions. Guests can plug their headphones into their machines and listen to the TV of their choice, Curtis said.
So far, the remodel has paid off. Curtis said they have noticed a 72 percent increase in usage since the remodel. “Every week this semester has been bigger than any other week in the previous years,” Curtis said.
The new fitness center could help students increase their wellness activities. Curtis said students should exercise at least 30 minutes a day. Students should find a time that works best for them and add it to their daily routines. Several factors encourage students to gain their “freshman 15,” including access to food, an increase in their drinking, the stressors of classes and the balance of life and school, said Kim Coke, director of Student Development. The easiest thing for students to give up for time management is their wellness, Coke said.
At Columbia College, students are not alone when it comes to maintaining their health. Peer educators are available on campus to help students make better choices, Coke said. Peer educators get the word out about wellness via bulletin boards or by hosting activities like the Root Beer Kegger. Coke said the peer educators have a campus activity every month to promote student wellness. One month it may be about responsible drinking, and another month it could be about helping students to quit smoking, Coke said. Wellness is not just about exercising; it’s also about how you take care of your body and what you put in it.

Students who prefer to use the buddy system could work out at the fitness center with a friend. “All current students, staff and faculty can use the facility, and they are allowed to bring one guest with them,” Curtis said. Guests must be signed in at the front desk, he said. 
Grant Crowley uses one of the weight machines in the
Koepke Fitness Center.

Brittney Fowler, a student worker at Koepke Fitness Center, said annual passes are available for alumni or others in the community who want to use the facilities. The passes are $350 for alumni and $500 for others. They allow access to the gym and free admission to any of the athletic games, Fowler said.

The new equipment is not the only addition to the fitness center. A new enforced rule requires guests to wear Columbia College apparel rather than apparel representing other colleges or universities.  said Fowler. 
Students who have never been to the fitness center and are not sure how the equipment works can get help from the staff. “Any student who needs more information about the fitness center can ask the student worker at the front desk or stop by my office in Southwell 143,” said Curtis. They will help students in any way they can, he said.

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