There was a time not so long ago that campus recreation was pretty limited. The business of higher education was not focused on student free time or recreation. In the 21st century, that is no longer the case, and at many colleges, campus recreation is central to the mission and branding of the institution and a key differentiator in attracting students. In recent years, universities have come to the realization that their academic prestige alone may not be enough to attract the world's top students, athletes, and overall academic participants. In an era when students are more mobile and discerning than ever, university officials have gone on a major building boom to add amenities that help their campus stand apart. One of the biggest ways colleges are attracting students is with top of the line amenities, and campus recreation is at the top of that list. Additionally, campus recreation opportunities are critical to the health and well-being of students-while the "freshman 15" is certainly a concern, the stress of attending university, mentally, financially, and academically, can take a physical toll. Campus recreation spaces not only offer fun activities, they can help students cope better as well.
Virginia Tech University is a thriving and dynamic college in Blacksburg, Virginia. Their forward thinking campus recreation team is continually looking for ways to enhance the college experience and improve quality of life for students, faculty, and the surrounding community. As a part of an all-new, comprehensive outdoor recreational space on campus, Virginia Tech University added an exciting outdoor fitness area for all to enjoy. The goals of the project were to provide an outdoor fitness space that encouraged repeat use and longer sessions, was viable for all skill levels, had space for multiple users, and included training stations for advanced users and team conditioning exercises. "We're trying to improve the outdoor amenities, particularly around the residential quadrant of campus," said Frank Shushok, senior associate vice president for Student Affairs. "If we create great spaces for students to do fun things, they'll use it." The outdoor fitness park was installed at the Prairie Quad in front of the University's Lee Hall, to be close to where students live.
The resulting Outdoor Adult Fitness Park is anchored by a composite fitness structure to provide students and faculty with a wide range of fitness and training opportunities in a compact space. With 20 fitness stations, there is plenty of room for multiple users at once, and each of the stations offer variable options for all fitness levels, across all components of a well-rounded workout. Anchored in poured rubber surfacing, the area is creatively designed in school colors with their team logo embedded in the surface. In addition to the composite structure, the area also includes custom Traveling Rings to develop upper body mobility, grip strength, and give students a fun way to mimic the "ninja" craze that is so popular with younger people. Parallel Bars (accessible), an Assisted Dip Station, Horizontal Chip Up Station and Fitness Rack complete the freestanding equipment, and promote the overall site with all components of a well-rounded workout.
The addition of the outdoor space has also freed up space in the indoor facilities and made it possible for more people to enjoy campus recreation amenities.