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New fitness options on Chilliwack campus

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UFV is ramping up their fitness options on the Chilliwack campus after cutting ties with the Cheam Leisure Centre last April. Access to the Cheam Centre is no longer offered as part of the Student Union’s U-Pass after the centre asked for an increased fee from the Student Union Society (SUS).

The initial plan was for SUS and UFV to partner, and replace this option with a fitness centre at the Chilliwack CEP campus. While UFV and SUS have invested in a weight room at CEP and in some fitness programming, the change hasn’t been beneficial for all Chilliwack students.

Us CEP students pay the same fees as the Abbotsford campus students, but don’t get near the same benefits,” Carlene Clark, UFV nursing student wrote in an email. “The Abbotsford students still have access to gyms, as well as programs like Zumba, and spin classes and the recreation program supplements this.”

Without the Cheam Leisure Centre, CEP students no longer have access to a pool, regular fitness programs, and 6 a.m. – 10 p.m. operating hours.

“The students who attend only the CEP campus only have “access” to the classes run through the rec program. Most of these classes are run throughout the school day. Students in programs such as nursing or certified dental assistant have set schedules, and are most of the times in classes from 8:30-3:50 daily, so almost all of the classes are out of question,” Clark said. “If we are paying the same as Abbotsford students, we should have access to the same amount of amenities they have.”

The original Cheam Leisure Centre annual fee was around $61,000. According to Gill, the budget draft called for approximately $15,000, which has been redirected to acquiring equipment, although the final numbers are not yet in.

Like the Abbotsford fitness centre, the Chilliwack one will house the equipment needed for a full workout, including free weights, fitness balls, treadmills, weight machines, and ellipticals. Unlike the Abbotsford campus fitness room, however, which has a membership fee of $40, access to this new fitness room will be included in the cost of the U-Pass for all UFV students.

The room has been set up in Q building, and will be open as soon as student staff can be found to run it.

“That’s the biggest challenge,” said Cheryl Van Nes, UFV’s program manager of campus recreation and wellness, “but we are getting close.”

Gurvir Gill, SUS president, said that he also looking to partner with YMCA when it opens again in 2018 after renovations. The YMCA offers a fitness room, pool, and a range of drop-in activities that Gill hopes would supplement the planned fitness options on campus in Chilliwack.

“We’ll try to see if they’re willing to partner with UFV so we can give students these other things that they’re missing out from the Cheam Centre,” said Gill. “If we get a good deal, it would be a good opportunity.”

For the meantime, on-campus fitness classes and drop-in sports are being offered, with a fitness room in the works.

The selection of fitness classes has been expanded on from previous years, and include power fusion, a boot camp circuit, dance fit, and pilates. The classes will continue to be held in the black box room. Drop-in sports will also be offered in the newly renovated RCMP gun range, currently dubbed “R building.”

A fitness incentive, REACH, is also being trialed as part of the new fitness options this semester, for both Chilliwack and Abbotsford students. Students can attend events, or log personal fitness hours for a chance to win prizes, such as parking passes, hoodies, and gym memberships.

“We’re running the challenge to encourage students to participate in their own personal wellness,” said Van Nes.

Both Van Nes and Gill believe that these solutions are currently working for students, but will be watching to make sure the program continues to be enough for students’ fitness needs.  

“It’s a bit of a Band-Aid solution right now, in my opinion,” said Van Nes. “But I think there definitely is a vision for more for students.”

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