Long lines, full fitness classes, a scarcity of locks; these are just a few of the headaches that Ohio State students are running into at the RPAC and other gyms around campus.
At a university that has more than 58,000 students on its main campus alone, these inconveniences are bound to happen. But much to the distress of gym frequenters everywhere, attendance has exploded since the start of Spring Semester.
During the first day of classes this semester, 11,794 students accessed the campus fitness facilities. On the first day of finals during the previous Autumn Semester, only 6,807 accessed campus fitness facilities, according to Marci Shumaker, senior associate director of programs and administration in the Office of Student Life’s Department of Recreational Sports.
“January and February are definitely our busiest months of the year,” Shumaker said. “The start of any semester is always very busy. Once finals get closer, motivation and attendance starts to go down. So when you return for a new semester, you are definitely going to notice a change.”
Attendance at the RPAC alone was up 25 percent and 34 percent from the first two days of Spring Semester, respectively, as compared to the previous spring. Shumaker acknowledged that this partly had to do with the fact that students were watching last year’s OSU football team in the national championship, which was played on Jan. 12, 2015, the night of the first day of classes for that year’s Spring Semester. The attendance this year is fairly similar to the first week’s attendance of Spring Semester 2014.
Shumaker said that the cold weather, New Year’s resolutions and wanting to see friends are all factors contributing to the increase in attendance.
For gym goers tired of waiting in line and hoping for a decrease in attendance, Shumaker doesn’t expect much of a change until spring break.
“Part of the reason people are working out is for spring break, and so once that happens, that motivation is gone, and the weather is usually a lot nicer, so people start doing outside activities like running and basketball,” she said.
Some students, such as Wendi Zlouja, a third-year in food science, have found ways of dealing with the traffic.
“It’s kind of overwhelming coming later during the day, it can definitely impact my workout,” Zlouja said. “So I come in during the early afternoon or late at night, that way I avoid the long lines and the wait to use some of the machines.”
Shumaker also said people who want to skip the crowds and go right to the workout should come in before 3:30 p.m.
“We’ve seen through trends that there’s a spike of attendance in the afternoon, people linger to socialize and/or study,” Shumaker said. “I’d say that 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. is our busiest time during the day, with Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday being the busiest days of the week.”
Despite the busyness of this time of year, Shumaker is happy with the increase of attendance.
“Our motto is ‘life in motion,’ so it’s great to see students embracing it,” she said.
For those students who are finding their favorite fitness class or exercise machines occupied, Shumaker advised them to try something new.
“Try swimming or rock climbing,” she said. “There are so many different activities at our facilities to keep students engaged.”