Fitness center gives employees a lift

By Shileha Churchill
The Scene staff

Kristin Thomas, campus suprivisor for financial aid, works out on the leg press at the “grand opening” for faculty and staff, who can now use the fitness center for free. (Photo by Serenity Ghidoni)

Forest Park faculty and staff no longer have to sign up for physical education classes to use the fitness center.

That’s good news for Hazel Nettles, an enrollment services employee.

“There will be more people using the fitness center now because before you had to pay for it,” she said.

Nettles was among those who attended a “grand opening” for faculty and staff this month. Provost Larry Johnson cut a red ribbon wearing his workout clothes instead of a suit and later ran on a treadmill.

“The fitness center opening is a trial for employees that the chancellor, Jeff Pittman, wanted and so far the response from the faculty has been positive,” said Sue Martin, vice chair of physical education at Forest Park.

The move is expected to help employees improve their health, strength and fitness and reduce stress.

In the fall of 2015, the college attempted to increase fitness center use by allowing students, faculty and staff to sign up for physical education classes but exercise on their own schedule.

Sue Martin, right, vice chair of physical education, shows Provost Larry Johnson how strength assessment works. (Photo by Serenity Ghidoni)

“Everyone has always been interested in using the fitness center,” said Mark Applegate, chair of physical education. “Now it is just the right opportunity for faculty to use it.”

The fitness center is in the Physical Education Building on campus. It’s open to employees from 8 a.m. to 7:50 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays.

Each employee is required to fill out a registration form and liability waiver and go through an equipment orientation. After submitting all paperwork, he or she will receive a key card that allows entry.

“Our fitness center is very well equipped,” instructor Jack Crider said. “We have a variety of equipment, and we can compete with most fitness centers.”

The college bought new strength and cardio equipment five years ago. In addition to Nautilus machines, strength equipment includes a squat rack with barbell and plate weights, stability balls and a Gravitron machine for upper-body workouts. Cardio equipment includes bikes, StairMaster machines, treadmills and ellipticals.

Needles does 30 minutes on the treadmill and elliptical machine three times a week to stay healthy and keep her doctor happy.

“The fitness center makes me feel good, and it saves me money,” she said.

The fitness center’s busiest times are in the evening, but mornings also are strong, according to Crider. Other physical education facilities, such as the gym and swimming pool, are open to employees. Times are limited at the pool because it requires the hiring of lifeguards.