Business is Booming at New Student Recreation Center

Students exercise at the new Student Recreation Center
Students exercise at the new Student Recreation Center on Sept. 12, 2019. (Lucas Voghell/UConn Photo)

The early numbers are in and they clearly show that UConn was primed and ready for the cutting-edge fitness and wellness facility that is the new Student Recreation Center.

From the time the doors opened on Aug. 26, there have been nearly 112,000 individual usages of the facility in the first month, including 9,000 on the first day. Of those usages, more than 100,000 have been by UConn students.

“These are the types of numbers that we expected to see three to five years into the operation of the center,” said UConn Recreation Executive Director Cyndi Costanzo ’88 (CLAS). “We have doubled our daily participation from our old facility. Typically, what new recreation centers experienced at other schools was a gradual increase of users. What we saw was literally an overnight increase. We always knew that we had an active community here at UConn and that people we waiting for these services. We are not changing a culture, we are truly meeting a need.”

In addition to UConn students, over 400 faculty, staff, and community members have purchased a membership for the recreation center. The revenue produced by memberships in the first six days of operation was equal to 50% of the normal annual revenue from memberships in previous years.

On top of the existing demand, a whole new audience was exposed to the center during a campus Open House for prospective students on Saturday, Sept. 21, as over 800 tours were given that day.

“People were saying they couldn’t wait to see the building and that it was one of the reasons they came to campus,” said Costanzo. “Student recreation needs to be part of the recruitment and retention process.”

Before the Student Recreation Center opened, there was a 25% increase of the hiring of student workers in the department. With the success of the center, more students are being hired and over $1 million will be budgeted for student labor this academic year, making it the second-largest employer of students on campus next to Dining Services.

“We have exceptional, real-life work opportunities for students with much of it being tied to their major,” said Costanzo. “Our marketing is run exclusively by students and we have them working with personal training, group fitness, and serving as officials.”

The center has also become a destination for those on campus looking to meet a friend for lunch as it’s the home to Freshens, a new operation of UConn Dining Services, which offers a healthy “fast casual” menu that includes smoothies, salads, wraps, grilled flatbread, and artisan melts.

“The Student Recreation Center has changed this area of campus,” said Costanzo. “We bring in pedestrian traffic off of Fairfield Way and have made Hillside Road less crowded. We have added bike and skateboard parking and students are doing homework outside our building and they are waiting for buses. It’s beautiful out here and it feels like we have been here forever.”