An exciting new wellness facility on The University of Tennessee Chattanooga’s campus will offer students, faculty, staff and alumni a variety of ways to engage in daily exercise.
“This facility is extremely high tech. Exercise physiology students will be available to help people learn how to use the equipment,” said Ron Nelson, Director of Campus Recreation. “More than 100 students are employed to help run this facility and the programs we offer.”
Located at the corner of Mabel and East 4th Streets across from McKenzie Arena, phase one of the Aquatic and Recreation Center (ARC) looks like a traditional, brick academic building. Inside the 100,000 square foot facility, blue and gold banners showcase MOCS pride and hang suspended from the vaulted ceiling, overlooking an appealing, modern interior landscape.
At the grand opening of the ARC, Chancellor Roger Brown told the crowd the University’s primary obligation is to provide students with the best possible education, there is a greater responsibility to provide them with a meaningful, overall college experience which includes a focus on health, wellness, and the benefits of recreation.
“This beautiful new Aquatics and Recreation Center stands as a physical testimony to our commitment to student wellness. I know that students for many years to come will enjoy its facilities and live happier, healthier lives from doing so,” Brown said.
The first floor of the center offers a cardio section complete with top of the line treadmills, elliptical machines and exercise bikes. All treadmills come standard with iPod connections, as well as a tuner that allows users to listen in on programs shown on flat screen televisions that line the upper wall. The weight training section consists of free weights and weight machines. Both the weight training and cardio sections include Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) approved machines. Clorox towelette dispensers are on the walls so that people can wipe down equipment after use.
Across from the cardio machines is the two-sided boulder and training rock that is surrounded by flooring made of 100% recycled tires; the climbing wall, located behind the wall separating it from the bouldering wall, is also on the first floor. The concrete wall was made in Oregon, and then shipped here. The wall was designed to resemble the look of the rocks in Chattanooga, and at 43 feet tall, the climbing wall is the largest in the city.
ARC includes a gymnasium that houses two full indoor basketball courts that can be transformed into soccer courts, three volleyball courts, and badminton courts. An air wall lines the entire wall of the gym. Lined with elliptical machines, treadmills, and exercise bikes, the 1/8 of a mile indoor track wraps around the entire third floor, and overlooks the gym.
The first floor also houses a martial arts room, smart classrooms for CPA and First Aid classes, and a home for the Sugar Mocs, complete with a state of the art sound system. The flooring is made of wood that is suspended on rubber disks to provide low impact flooring for cheering, dancing, and jumping.
There is also an abundance of storage space for fencing equipment and gear for the fencing teams as well as storage space for kayaks for the rowing teams. A washer and dryer are also available to clean uniforms.
Nestled in a small corner on the second floor are administrative offices. There, facility coordinators oversee the Wellness center. “We wanted to keep the offices small to allow more space for student programs,” said Nelson.
The duct work in the ceiling is made entirely of cloth, and a “whoosh” sound can be heard as air rushes through.
With their MOCS cards, students can rent equipment such as basketball, soccer balls, and bikes. A $20 fee is required to rent snowboards, bikes, and kayaks.
Cameras are installed to help monitor the building for safety and medical emergencies.
Wi-fi is also available throughout the entire facility to allow students to access the internet. “We wanted the best of the best for our students,” said Nelson.
Many features in the restrooms are touchless. The restrooms house six showers, a host of lockers and bathroom stalls. Located on the back wall are two spin machines that dry swimwear in seconds, eliminating carrying a wet swimsuit in a gym bag all day long. Wall knockouts will eventually be used as an entryway for the pool.
Construction of the Aquatic and Recreation Center (ARC) was funded entirely by students–a dedicated fee increase was imposed by student vote. This first phase of construction began in May 2007 and cost $16.5 million.
Phase two construction of the indoor pool area is scheduled to begin in October and will cost an estimated $8.3 million. This curved pool will be covered by a flat roof. A whitewater theme is planned to play off Chattanooga’s reputation as a destination for freshwater outdoor enthusiasts. The pool will have a Lazy River with a kayak plunge pool; a 30 person bubble bench; five lap line swim area from 4 -10 ft; a 30 person hot tub; a two-story high, 156 foot long water slide that spirals into the water; and courts for water basketball and volleyball.
Andy Routh of Derthick, Henley, and Wilkerson Architects and Jim Fisher of Franklin Associates Architects designed the building.
Student Government Association President Tyler Forrest explained at the grand opening event that with the urging of SGA presidents for the last 14 years, students have continuously voted to increase the student activity fee to pay for this facility.
“The original fee funded the construction of this building, a fee increase was voted on to fund the construction of the aquatics portion, and an increase as recent as last year was voted on to fund and enhance the staffing of the facility and operating hours. Students have really made the ARC happen. The ARC is a real since of pride for all of us that have had the opportunity to be the leaders of this outstanding student body,” Forrest said.
Current UTC students have automatic access for as long as they are enrolled at the University. Students can bring a guest for five dollars a day. The guest must stay with the student member who accommodates them, and should leave when the member leaves. No one under the age of 16 years will be allowed inside the building.
ARC hours of operation are:
Monday – Thursday – 6:30am – 11pm
Friday – 6:30am – 6pm
Saturday – 10am -4pm
Sunday – 2pm – 11pm
Staff and faculty of the university pay $125 for six months of membership. For a one time $20 surcharge, alumni from 2002 until 2009 will get free access for four years, ending December 31, 2013. Graduate classes before 2002 will also pay the one time fee, in addition to $150 plus tax for six months of membership. All alumni will sign up for membership in the Alumni office. For more information, please visit the website at www.utc.edu/Administration/CampusRecreation/CampusRecreationCenter.php.