We have discussed the best college food here in past posts. Surprisingly (maybe not surprisingly), some high schoolers rank a college’s food quality near or at the top of their selection criteria. That mystifies me, but I have listened to high school students try to justify allowing food to be such a strong influence in their choice of potential schools.
Moving past that debatable approach, let’s consider for a moment the consequences of putting such emphasis on quality, but possibly empty, calories: weight gain. You may have heard the old term, “freshman 10” or (with inflation and all) “freshman 15.” That refers to the number of pounds first-year college students can gain once they escape the watchful eyes of parents. Parties, late-night snacks, high-calorie “beverages,” and all can throw a real challenge at young waistlines.
So, what to do about this? Easy answer: exercise!
“Yeah, right,” you might say. “I’m going to move away from home for the first time in my life and live among similar free spirits and then map out a rigid program of weight lifting and treadmill running. Ha!”
It doesn’t have to be that way, though. In fact, using a college’s recreational (a.k.a. “gym”) facilities can be a great way to meet new friends. It can be a kind of Facebook for your physique, so to speak.
In thinking about this topic, I wondered what some of the more advanced college recreation facilities are like. I did a quick search for “best college gyms” and — boom! — all these terrific links appeared. The one that appealed most to me was The 35 Most Luxurious Student Recreation Centers. I was amazed at how much thought and money these schools put into their rec facilities.
To give you an idea of what they’re like, I want to share a few examples from the list of 35. It will take you a while to survey the complete article, but my excerpts should inspire you to dig deeper. So, check to see how tight your belt is and try not to think about food as we take a look.
#28. University of Chicago
Athletics and fitness are an excellent way to enrich the lives of any student community; therefore, the campus recreation center at the University of Chicago endeavors to attain student enrichment by providing as many competitive physical and mental challenges as possible to the student body. Activities offered at the university run the gamut of team sports, such as basketball, kickball, and flag football, but also include rarer physical activities like inner tube water polo, bowling, and even broomball. Less physical, more mentally challenging activities are also available, including billiards, chess, and spades. The University of Chicago is also a participant in the FitChicago program, and a result many fitness-oriented activities are available to students. Each academic quarter features an ever-changing list of fitness-themed activities, including step aerobics, kickboxing, cardio boot camp, Zumba dance, and water aerobics …
#23. University of Minnesota
The University of Minnesota’s University Recreation and Wellness program provides all of the tools its students need in order to ensure healthy campus life. Programs like, “Women & Weights”, “Twelve Week Weight Loss”, and the “Tri-U-Mah” indoor triathlon, help emphasize this university’s commitment to its student’s wellness. For those more interested in team sports, the University of Minnesota also offers a varied intramural program which includes both men and women’s leagues as well as co-recreation leagues that all compete across the entire semester. During the wintry months, skiing is offered, both cross country and groomed trails are options that the students will find available. The university also offers sports clubs that range from aikido and kung fu clubs to clubs that specialize in ballroom dancing and water polo. Two pool areas, the Minneapolis Pools and the Saint Paul Pool, provide a plethora of aquatics programs that are designed to engage students …
#20. Indiana State University
Indiana State University’s Recreational Sports Program has varied features and programs for all of its large student body. Spread across the Student Recreation Center, the Health and Human Services Arena, and several outdoor facilities, students have a sensible choice when it comes to maintaining a healthy and active lifestyle. The student recreation center boasts wet classrooms, which are dedicated to aquatics like water aerobics and lifeguarding. Indiana State University also has facilities established for indoor soccer, floor hockey, and martial arts programs. The Human Services Arena contains a full sized tennis court, racquetball courts, and a 25-yard pool. A climbing wall and a jogging track are available for those looking for a full body workout. The university’s outdoor facilities also contain something for everyone; another full sized tennis court, two well-lit softball fields, and Wolf Field, which includes areas for basketball, sand volleyball, and even a sheltered picnic area …
#15. University of South Florida
The University of South Florida is lucky to be located in such a beautiful area, a place where the Campus Recreation Center can incorporate outdoor recreation into student fitness and well-being. Swimmers will love the aquatic option of an indoor and an outdoor swimming pool as well as scuba instructions that will eventually lead you to an expedition in the Blue Grotto. The campus is home to a mile-long fitness trail that incorporates outdoor exercise stations though out the length of the path. There is also a rope course to encourage teamwork amongst the student body while engaging in a challenging activity. Riverfront Park allows students to enjoying the Florida wildlife in its natural environment while also offering a relaxing place to socialize with fellow students. Activities such as kayaking, canoeing, and disc golf are available during certain times of the day …
#10. California State University – Long Beach
True Zen is hard to achieve, but the Recreation and Wellness Center at the California State University at Long Beach is dedicated to creating an environment that makes this goal achievable for both students and faculty members. The facility starts by offering a chakra class that teaches students to balance their body’s chakra and focus on healing during meditation sessions. The campus also offers many forms of martial arts classes. The aquatics center offers fun and relaxing programs to encourage socialization like kayak racing, innertube Fridays, and sand volleyball. For those who relish a day trip off campus, the Recreation and Wellness Center organizes sailing adventures around Long Beach and hiking adventure at locations such as Ortega Falls and Sandstone Peak …
#1. University of Missouri
When it comes to recreation centers, the University of Missouri stands at the top. Fitness can be achieved at the Jungle Gym, Clark’s Boxing Gym, or at any of the fitness studios that are located on campus, but the Mizzou Aquatic Center is the highlight at the University of Missouri. Here students can enjoy one of the best competition pools in the United States, a diving well, hot tubs, a sauna, a steam room, a vortex, a lazy river, and even waterfalls. If there is not enough excitement at the Tiger Grotto, make your way to Truman’s Pond, which is a campus beach club, which is the perfect place to relax in the sun while listening to music and socializing with fellow students. If an outdoor fitness experience is preferred, there are plenty of options at the sand volleyball courts, Epple Park, and the MU Rec Trail …
Of course, this is just one group of facilities ranked. You should know by now what I think of rankings, so do your own research if you don’t like what you see on this list.
The Freshman 10 (or 15) doesn’t have to happen to you. Remember: The clothes you save could be your own!
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