Program coordinator Jack Krist is proud of the progression of the Recreation, Athletic, and Wellness Centre, otherwise known as the RAWC (pronounced “rock”). He has major goals in focus as he sits smiling at his desk in his office.
“September 2006 we opened, and that’s the year we had the highest amount of campus rec teams. We had 130 that year. Last year was 127, but with two new leagues this year—with the ultimate Frisbee and outdoor soccer—we will break that record,” Krist said.
Since the opening of UTM’s main gym facility, Jack has been responsible for and welcomes great growth. Krist expects that in 2012, UTM students will be in the best position to advance themselves physically and mentally by taking advantage of the RAWC and its programs.
For Krist, the RAWC’s opportunities offer more than a common gym membership. “We have all kinds of programs; some are instructional and others are drop-in. We’ve got spin bikes, we’ve got hydroriders, where you ride in the pool. (Which is new—it’s like a bike that you ride in the pool.) We offer aqua fitness, Pilates, and other things that, other universities, they charge extra for all that. At this campus it’s all included in your incidental fees.”
Good-spirited competition is key for Krist, who personally participates in some events, including the Campus Rec ball hockey tournament. The RAWC hosts intramural and Campus Rec games premised on just that: healthy competition.
“Campus Rec stuff is just on this campus; there’s no travel, practice, or tryouts. You get a bunch of your friends together on a team. If you can’t find a team, you come to the office and we’ll put you on a free agent list, and then captains can come select you to join their teams. New this year, were going to start a Campus Rec co-ed ultimate league and then an outdoor men’s soccer league,” he says. “We had indoor, but never outdoor.”
Three or four pro athletes work out here, on top of the Toronto Argonauts. Jason Spezza works out here. Sam Gagne works out here.
Fitness trainers and free assessments are provided to UTM students looking to get on an exercise program or work with the assistance of a trainer. The RAWC also has a power-lifting room, which houses a power-lifting team. If lifting weights is daunting, there are opportunities for aerobics, Pilates, and dancing instruction. Students can even just drop by for “rec badminton” days.
The RAWC is also full of hidden gyms, including a table tennis room, a golf cage, three squash courts, and tennis and beach volleyball courts beside the North Field.
Above all, Krist is excited about the RAWC’s newest exercise device. “We have a new rotating rock climbing wall,” he says. “It’s called the ‘Fit Freedom Climber’. It rotates as you climb, but it only gets a foot or foot and half as you climb, and you can grab a whole bunch of grips and finger holds.”
But the climber is not the only change. “We’re relighting gym C, which was very dark, to go with new doors for people to see things going on inside,” says Krist. “Like the ball hockey league that goes on inside it.”
Take a glimpse or a walk through the RAWC and it is easy to understand why it is called a state-of-the-art exercise facility. With treadmills, elliptical machines, a full track with varying speed lanes, and a wide assortment of free weights and machine weights, it’s a facility good enough to serve the needs of pros, including the Toronto Argonauts.
“Three or four pro athletes work out here, on top of the Toronto Argonauts. Jason Spezza [a centre for the Ottawa Senators] works out here. Sam Gagne [a centre for the Edmonton Oilers] works out here,” says Krist. “If you’re getting pro athletes to use your facility, it says something. It says we have what you need to work out.” Krist is aware of the misconceptions about spending time working out and how it could distract students from their studies, but dismisses this idea as nonsense. “Getting involved with athletics is key! Most people think, ‘Oh, I don’t have time for that,’ but if you can get involved in a team sport or a routine, time-management-wise it’s actually going to help with your studies,” he says. “If you know you have a basketball practice every Tuesday night or a soccer practice every night, it forces you to make time to study.”
Scheduled program times at the RAWC are based on the needs of students and working to cater to their schedules. “Everything is at a set time, and you can find something that works for you. And if you find something that works with your schedule, I can say your grades will go up.”
For any questions or ideas about the RAWC or its programs, students can visit the RAWC staff in their office beside gyms A and B. Krist also wants students to take advantage of the UTM Athletic Council, made up of elected students, which is responsible for planning trips and other sports events on- and off-campus “We have a great UTM athletic council,” says Krist. “We have a mixed group of people. There’s two females on the council this year, which helps because last year’s council was all guys. So they can help the female aspect and get the female sports better promoted.”
Currently in its sixth year of operation, the RAWC is looking to house more teams than ever before and more sports to choose from this year. Jack Krist’s mission is to get UTM students to make physical activity and exercise a priority. With such a wide range of choices, his mission should be a success.