There was a time, not so long ago, that campus recreation was pretty limited. There have always been intramural sports and leisure-time activities, but campus recreation wasn’t big business. The business of higher education was higher education, and if students had free time between classes and on the weekends, it wasn’t spent in the gym (see the influential documentary Animal House for details). In the 21st century, that is no longer the case at all – for many colleges, campus recreation is central to the mission and branding of the institution, and schools without state-of-the-art recreation facilities are finding themselves on the losing end when it comes to attracting students.
Why is the Campus Recreation Center So Hot?
In a word: competition. Believe it or not, the number of students going to college has been shrinking in recent years, and that means colleges and universities are having to get creative with their recruitment. One of the biggest ways colleges are attracting students is with top-of-the-line amenities, and campus recreation leads the list. At some schools, you’d be hard pressed to guess whether you were at a university, or a luxury resort. From lazy rivers and waterslides at the natatorium, to massage therapy and spa treatments at the wellness center, colleges and universities are making sure students have all the challenge and pampering they could ask for.
But campus recreation centers are more than just bargaining chips for choosy students. They are critical to the health and well-being of students. The notorious Freshman 15 remains a perennial worry for new students, but more importantly, the stress of college – from new campus living arrangements to academic challenges to financial struggles paying for college – can take a real physical toll on students. There is no end of scientific evidence demonstrating that mental stress causes serious bodily harm, but there’s also ample evidence proving that physical fitness, exercise, and fun – even a little every day – can make a crucial difference. The best campus recreation center doesn’t just offer an escape from college stress – it offers a cure for the illness of stress.
How Does College Consensus Rank Campus Recreation?
Institutions in the Top 50 Best Consensus Campus Recreation Centers are ranked according to their College Consensus Score. The list is drawn from colleges and universities that have achieved national recognition for their recreation programs, including ranking such as Men’s Health, architectural awards, and positive student reviews.
Obviously, no listing like this can be entirely objective. In order to be considered for our list of best campus rec centers, schools had to qualify for a College Consensus score, which is a combination of the results of reputable publisher ratings and real student reviews from around the web. From this group of schools our editors selected those we thought had the most spectacular recreation centers and ordered them by their College Consensus score. The result is a list of highly regarded schools that also happen to have amazing recreational and wellness facilities on their campuses.
University of ChicagoChicago, IL
The University of Chicago is known the world over as one of the most prestigious, academically rigorous, and influential universities in modern history. From medicine to law, economics to social sciences, Chicago has been at the forefront of research and discovery for well over a century. It’s a university for the very best and brightest, in other words – in fact, with an acceptance rate of less than 8%, and an alumni list that includes Nobel Prize winners, MacArthur Geniuses, and more than a dozen billionaires, Chicago is unquestionably one of the smartest universities in the world.
All those smarts and fitness too may seem like too much to ask, but the University of Chicago has its 16,000 students covered with their campus recreation center, the Ratner Athletics Center. One of the most distinctive facilities of its kind in the US, the Ratner Center was designed by world-renowned Argentine-American architect Cesar Pelli, known for some of the world’s tallest, most recognizable buildings. Noted for its suspended roof, the Ratner Center won awards from the American Council of Engineering Company, the American Institute of Steel Construction, and the Consulting Engineers Council of Illinois. The Ratner Center includes one of Chicago’s largest strength-training facilities (the DelGiorno Fitness Center), an Olympic-sized swimming pool (the Myers-McLoraine Pool), and numerous fitness programs for students.
DelGiorno Fitness Center
University of PennsylvaniaPhiladelphia, PA
University of Pennsylvania founder (and Founding Father of the US), Benjamin Franklin was famous in his own time for his rigorous approach to self-improvement, often discussed in his periodical Poor Richard’s Almanack. In addition to advocating for a moderate, vegetarian diet, regular exercise, and what we might think of a “mindfulness” today – all of which were fairly radical ideas in his time – Franklin was an avid athlete, even lifting weights well into his old age. You could call Franklin the first body-hacker, frequently using himself as the test subject for his scientific ideas about fitness and nutrition.
All of Franklin’s ideals are represented in the University of Pennsylvania, including his life-long focus on holistic health. In addition to a wealth of recreational opportunities, from intramural sports to recreation clubs, Penn’s Pottruck Health and Fitness Center may well be the finest campus recreation center in the region. The 19,000 square foot facility includes an Olympic-sized swimming pool (which Franklin, an enthusiastic, self-taught swimmer, would approve), a 40-foot climbing wall (with all gear provided), and numerous classes for students and faculty, such as Pilates and cycling. The state-of-the-art Golf Simulator, which allows players to try their hand at 35 championship courses around the world, is especially popular; students can bring their own equipment, but the center provides clubs and balls. Penn’s Ivy League students can challenge their bodies just as hard as they challenge their minds – exactly the way Ben Franklin would have wanted.
40’ Climbing Wall
Colby CollegeWaterville, ME
Colby College is regularly ranked one of the top liberal arts colleges in the nation, and has been named everything from a New Ivy to a Best Value; the Sierra Club even called Colby one of the “coolest schools” in the US. As an elite liberal arts college, Colby accepts only 13% of applicants, and makes sure that that small student body has all of the support, resources, and amenities that such a school can provide. That includes some of New England’s best recreational facilities, such as the Alfond Athletic Center, which includes everything from a physical therapy center to batting cages, squash courts, and a climbing wall.
When it was opened, the Alfond Center was a state-of-the-art facility, but opening in 2020, the new Colby Athletic Complex will set a new standard. The new campus recreation center, a 350,000 square-foot facility, will be the largest building project in Colby’s history (which dates back to 1813) and one of the most impressive facilities any liberal arts college can boast. The new aquatic center will include both an Olympic pool and a Myrtha pool, while the complex will also offer a 200-meter indoor track, an ice-hockey rink, and basketball court, all in an eco-sensitive architectural wonder powered by renewable energy.
University of California-Los AngelesLos Angeles, CA
UCLA is one of the most glamorous higher education locations in the US – Los Angeles, CA. When UCLA was founded in 1919, the movie industry in Hollywood was just kicking off, and the University of California opened a branch campus in the fast-growing city. Leap forward a century, and UCLA is one of the most prestigious schools in the world, frequently ranked as the top public university in the nation. UCLA is known not only for its scholarly influence and research, but for its outsized impact on entertainment, arts, and sports. From Oscar winners to NBA champions, UCLA has more than its fair share of the coolest people in the world.
UCLA students can expect the glamorous life themselves – at least, way more glamorous than the average public research university. Students have access to more than a dozen top of the line recreation centers, from the Outdoor Adventure Center to the Marina Aquatic Center – hiking, biking, kayaking, sailing, and more. UCLA also offers no fewer than 6 pools, so students can swim laps or just hang out like the stars in a glitzy Old Hollywood movie. Any sport students can imagine is available in intramural or club sports, and probably a few you’ve never heard of. Goat yoga? We didn’t make that up.
Pools, pools, and more pools
Marina Aquatic Center
Rice UniversityHouston, TX
Known as one of the Southern Ivies, Rice University is widely considered the most prestigious private research university in Texas. Rice is recognized as one of the most elite schools in the nation for academics, with world-renowned faculty and alumni, including Nobel Prize winners. But even with its academic rigor, Rice is also ranked one of the happiest schools in the nation by the Princeton Review. Rice makes sure its students are happy, healthy, and successful with top-notch student support and some of the most inviting facilities in higher education.
Part of the reason for Rice’s high quality of life is the recreational opportunities they offer their student body. The Barbara and David Gibbs Recreation and Wellness Center is one of the finest campus recreation centers in the region, with an enormous 9000 square-foot cardio and weight training room, squash and racquetball courts, and two pools – a competition and a recreation pool. There are no shortage of fitness classes, intramural and club sports, and outdoor activities, many led by Rice Outdoor Programs and Education (R.O.P.E.). Students are also welcome to many wellness activities, such as meditation and recreational dance classes.
Gibbs Recreation and Wellness Center
Vanderbilt UniversityNashville, TN
Like Rice, Vanderbilt University is considered one of the Southern Ivies, founded in 1873 by railroad baron Cornelius Vanderbilt to bring modern education the post-Civil War South. With that background, Vanderbilt has grown into Tennessee’s most elite private research university, known not only for medicine, engineering, and other STEM fields, but for culture and art as well. Vanderbilt has one of the largest endowments of any university in the South, and those ample resources have made it possible for Vanderbilt to offers its students some of the most luxurious facilities in the region.
The Vanderbilt Recreation and Wellness Center has all of the amenities that college students could hope for from a campus recreation center, and then some. An enormous, 14,000 square-foot fitness center, gym, and 300-meter indoor rubber track are just the start. Vanderbilt also offers students a bowling alley with 4 lanes and free shoe rentals; a 1400 square-foot climbing wall; and racquetball, squash, and sand volleyball courts. The Wellness Center even includes a well-appointed demo kitchen for culinary classes and nutrition programs. The Outdoor Recreation Center also offers kayaking and adventure outings to keep students connected to nature.
Wabash CollegeCrawfordsville, IN
One of the nation’s top liberal arts colleges, Wabash College is one of only three remaining all-male colleges in the US. An emphasis on camaraderie, competition, and community has been central to Wabash’s culture from the very beginning, when students did manual labor to pay for their schooling. The tradition continues today, both in one of the most highly developed fraternity systems of any liberal arts college, and in the emphasis on holistic growth, development, and learning that is a deep part of life at Wabash.
Wabash College is one of the wealthiest colleges in America, on an endowment per student basis, and that financial status has made it possible for Wabash to offers some of the finest accommodations of any small liberal arts college. Wabash’s Allen Athletics and Recreation Center offers a 40-meter pool, a top-of-the-line weight and cardio training room, and a 200-meter indoor track. Students can practice baseball and golf in doors, and the college has built a dedicated facility for its Little Giants championship wrestling team, the Shelbourne Wrestling Center. Wabash has made a campus recreation center worthy of its reputation.
Shelbourne Wrestling Center
40-meter lap pool
The University of Texas at AustinAustin, TX
Austin, TX, home of the University of Texas at Austin, is widely ranked as one of the healthiest and fittest cities in the US – usually #1 in Texas. Throughout the city, from the beautiful Zilker Park, Lady Bird Lake, and Barton Springs, to the many biking trails, there is an abundance of activities available. With warm, dry winters and hot, sunny summers, Austinites can get out and about all year long, and UT students take full advantage.
With more than 500,000 square feet of indoor space, and 40 acres of outdoor space, UT Austin’s Recreational Sports program is massive, providing students with a campus recreation center on the scale that only Texas can. Three outdoor pools, and two indoor pools in the Gregory Gym Aquatic Complex, give students all the access they could want for swimming, while racquetball, squash, and handball players have spaces in Gregory Gym and the Recreational Sports Center. From indoor dodgeball to outdoor adventures, UT Longhorns have an abundance of choices for their health and wellness needs.
Outdoor and indoor pools
Unique club sports
Pepperdine UniversityMalibu, CA
Pepperdine University is regularly ranked one of the top private research universities in the nation, and even a best value because of the tremendous return on investment its graduates can claim. This Churches of Christ-affiliated institution is also located in Malibu, CA – one of the most famously beautiful places in the US, with a year-round Mediterranean climate and beaches that attract tourists and surfers from the world over. Sure, students come to Pepperdine for educational excellence and exceptional opportunities, but there’s a lot to be said for Malibu and the Pacific Ocean in Pepperdine’s backyard.
Pepperdine takes holistic health and fitness very seriously, encouraging students to stay well in mind, body, and soul, and Pepperdine’s campus recreation resources make sure every student has access to whatever they need to do it. Outdoor activities, including Pepperdine’s bi-annual God in the Wilderness outdoor adventure trips, and the weekly Surf Convo program, keep Pepperdine’s Waves in the waves. Plus, with some of the best amenities in the West, Pepperdine offers numerous fitness centers, weight and cardio facilities, and the famed Firestone Fieldhouse, a model campus recreation center. Whether you prefer the sunshine or a climate-controlled facility, Pepperdine is prepared.
Malibu, CA, of course
University of MiamiCoral Gables, FL
Miami is frequently named one of the healthiest cities in the nation, with a strong emphasis on fitness and year-round warm weather to encourage citizens to be outside and active. The University of Miami, one of the highest-ranked private research universities in the US, is also one of the healthiest universities, and it follows the city of Miami in emphasizing activity, exercise, health, and wellness as everyday life. One of the most diverse universities in the nation, the University of Miami puts student well-being first and foremost in every way, and its campus recreation reflects this commitment.
Obviously, there is no end of activity in Miami, where the sun is always shining and the beaches are endless – surfing, swimming, kayaking, and more. But one of the most impressive features of student life at the University of Miami is one of the nation’s only student-led recreation centers, the Herbert Wellness Center. Herbert is a campus recreation center like no other, the biggest student employer on campus and one of the finest facilities of its kind anywhere. An 18,000 square foot fitness center, two gymnasiums, pools, saunas, and spa, all come together to provide students all they need to stay healthy and active.
Student-led wellness center
Ohio State University-Main CampusColumbus, OH
The Ohio State University is a model of public education, named among the Public Ivies and regularly ranked in the top public research universities nationwide. OSU has been a vital part of life in Ohio for more than a century and a half, and is the destination not only for a huge number of Ohio students, but for students from across the US and from dozens of foreign countries. Sports and recreation have been central to life at Ohio State from the beginning – the Buckeyes are one of the most successful and recognizable athletics programs in the nation – and today, students can expect ample opportunity to move, compete, and stay health.
With the 3rd-largest student body in the US, Ohio State puts a lot of effort into providing accommodations and facilities for students, so it should be no surprise that the OSU Recreation and Physical Activity Center is the largest fitness facility in Ohio. This massive campus recreation center is not just a gym or fitness room, but a complex that includes meeting spaces and conference rooms, computer kiosks, and sports equipment rentals. The McCorkle Aquatic Pavilion and the Recreation Natatorium are state-of-the-art swimming centers, while four gyms, 10 racquetball courts, and a 27,500 square foot fitness center keep students busy.
McCorkle Aquatic Pavilion
Purdue University-Main CampusWest Lafayette, IN
Purdue University is one of the best-known and most trusted universities in the Midwest, and a globally-recognized leader in science, agriculture, and engineering. With its roots in science, engineering, and health, Purdue is also known for its emphasis on sports, recreation, and physical activity, from its world-renowned athletic teams – the Boilermakers – to hundreds of club sports, intramural teams (with more than 18,000 participants), and many other activities. Purdue also offers some of the most impressive recreational facilities in the nation, including a game-changing campus recreation center.
Purdue was, in fact, the first university in the US to build a designated recreational facility for student use, pioneering campus health and wellness back in 1957. Today, the Cordova Recreational Sports Center, built in 2012, continues Purdue’s tradition by providing students with one of the most advanced and innovative examples of a campus recreation center – more than 350,000 square feet in all. Five gymnasiums, nearly 50,000 square feet of fitness, two 55 ft climbing walls (traditional and bouldering), a 50 meter Olympic pool, a recreational Myrtha pool – and that’s just a fraction of the amenities Purdue offers.
Two 55’ climbing walls
University of California-San DiegoLa Jolla, CA
Built on the Pacific coast, and bordering Mexico, San Diego is regularly named one of the most beautiful cities in the US, and one of the most diverse. The University of California, San Diego, makes the most of both San Diego’s magnificent climate, and its diversity. For more than 100 years, UCSD has been intimately tied to California’s second-largest city, which is also known as one of the healthiest cities in the US. San Diego has exceptionally inviting weather and a real commitment to infrastructure for exercise and recreation, and UCSD follows that lead with one of the largest campus recreational programs of any American university, including cutting-edge facilities.
Students at UCSD have access to some of the greatest recreational facilities in the nation, including the UCSD Recreational, Intramural, and Athletic Complex (RIMAC), one of the largest campus recreation centers. The Cannonview Aquatic Center offers two Olympic-sized pools for students, while the Outback Climbing Center provides a safe rock wall with all the gear a student needs. The Mission Bay Aquatic Center is one of the world’s most impressive facilities of its kind, a huge waterfront recreational center that serves thousands; kayaking, sailing, surfing, and more are available to students and the general public as well.
Mission Bay Aquatic Center
Outback Climbing Center
Georgia Institute of Technology-Main CampusAtlanta, GA
Georgia Tech is one of the world’s top universities for engineering, business, and design, and widely known as one of the smartest schools in the nation – high test scores, national and international awards and honors, and a history of world-changing discoveries and inventions. Georgia Tech puts its smarts to use in recreation, too, with one of the most dominant athletic programs in the nation (the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets) and one of the most enviable collegiate recreation programs available.
Not surprisingly (considering Georgia Tech’s history), the Georgia Tech Campus Recreation Center (CRC) is one of the largest and most advanced in the South, as well as nationwide; the CRC has won numerous awards for its construction, design, and programs, and been named the Princeton Review’s #1 campus recreation center. The McAuley Aquatic Center, built for the 1996 Olympics, is a model facility, while the Crawford Pool offers swimming, a gigantic waterslide, and a hot tub spa for up to 16 people. The GIT FIT and Outdoor Recreation programs provide students with instruction, events, and trips for exercise and community.
GIT FIT program
Saint Mary's College of CaliforniaMoraga, CA
Regularly ranked as one of the top regional colleges in the West, Saint Mary’s College of California is one of the best-known and most-loved colleges in the San Francisco Bay Area, dating back to 1863, the earliest years of the region. Administrated by the De La Salle Brothers, Saint Mary’s is steeped in the tradition of the order, which focuses on social justice, human decency, and holistic education for the mind, body, and spirit. With full-person health in mind, Saint Mary’s emphasizes community, service, and the well-being of students, from engagement with the broader Oakland community to the highest quality of student services.
Saint Mary’s Alioto Recreation Center is part of the college’s commitment to student health, whether in the form of exercise, healthy competition, or self-motivated challenges. The Alioto Center – named for alumnus and former San Francisco mayor Joe Alioto – includes nearly 14,000 square feet of weights and cardio equipment, two gyms, a 10-lane lap pool, and a wealth of classes and activities. A climbing wall, spin room, and hydrotherapy spa also give students a variety of opportunities to keep active, making Saint Mary’s Alioto Center a great campus recreation center.
10-lane lap pool
High Point UniversityHigh Point, NC
Regularly ranked one of the top regional colleges in the South, High Point University is a small liberal arts college associated with the United Methodist Church. Founded in 1924, High Point has always made educational excellence, community, and student support central to their vision. Today, High Point offers the highest level of service, with a 14:1 student:faculty ratio, average classes of fewer than 20 students, and amenities that only a tight-knit college can provide. As a primarily residential colleges (all students must live on-campus until senior year), High Point makes sure to make the campus a home away from home.
High Point University’s student recreation services are some of the best in the region, with 10 recreation centers throughout campus and a multitude of options of health, exercise, and wellness. High Point’s Slane Student Center is a top of the line campus recreation center, with two full-size basketball courts, a modern fitness center, and a variety of classes. The HPU Outdoor Discovery Center, in turn, includes a serious climbing wall and a challenging ropes course, as well as organizing hiking and adventure trips to the nearby Appalachian Mountains and foothills. It’s a perfect example of the value a campus recreation center can bring to an education.
Outdoor Discovery Center
Slane Student Center
University of IowaIowa City, IA
Founded in 1847, the University of Iowa is the state’s oldest university and the flagship public research institution, central to life in Iowa since the state’s earliest existence. UI has put the life, health, and well-being of Hawkeyes at the center of its curriculum and culture from the very beginning; the university is especially critical to medicine and healthcare in the state, with some of Iowa’s finest hospitals and clinics. In addition, UI has been a national leader in athletics, helping to pioneer and expand both conference sports and intramural sports throughout more than a century and a half.
The University of Iowa Campus Recreation & Wellness Center (CRWC) is one of the most advanced and influential centers of its kind in the Midwest. Built in 2010, the CRWC has an embarrassment of top-notch amenities, including two gymnasiums, more than 20,000 square foot fitness center, and a 52-ft climbing wall. In aquatics, the CRWC really shines; students can use the 50 meter competitive swimming pool, which includes an 18-ft deep diving well, or the Leisure Pool, which includes a 25-person spa, a Vortex, and a Lazy River. The University of Iowa keeps students active and healthy with a model campus recreation center.
20,000 square foot fitness center
Leisure Pool (including Lazy River, Vortex, and spa)
Auburn UniversityAuburn, AL
Alabama’s land-grant, public research university, Auburn University is one of the South’s most prestigious and productive flagships. Auburn is known throughout the world as a leading engineering and healthcare institution, with land, sea, and space-grant research, but of course, Auburn is famed for its athletics programs. The Tigers have been one of the nation’s most successful collegiate football teams for generations, and Auburn teams have been nationally dominant in sports as varied as swimming and diving, golf, track and field, and equestrian sports.
Auburn doesn’t keep its athletic excellence confined to its Division I NCAA teams; Auburn also has some of the finest recreation facilities and offerings in the South. The Auburn Recreation and Wellness Center has regularly been cited as a near-perfect campus recreation center, with a host of options for students. A ⅓ mile corkscrew running track, two 50-foot rock climbing towers, and basketball and racquetball courts give students plenty to do inside, while Auburn Outdoors provides gear and planning for all kinds of adventure recreation, from kayaking and hiking to biking and camping.
Corkscrew running track
Two 50-foot climbing towers
*photo sourced from IMEG design Consulting
University of South Carolina-ColumbiaColumbia, SC
The flagship of South Carolina’s higher education, the University of South Carolina has been setting the standard for academics, research, and service learning for more than two centuries. Since 1801, when the university began, USC has fostered a student life centered around academic accomplishment and community engagement, from service to athletics (with its national championship-winning Gamecocks teams). USC has been named one of the most promising and innovative schools in the nation, thanks to its emphasis on growth and development for students’ enlightenment and well-being.
With the largest student body in the Carolinas, the University of South Carolina has built a student recreation program second to none in the region, with more than 400,000 square feet of recreation centers and facilities. The two leading centers – the Blatt Physical Education Center and the Thurmond Wellness and Fitness Center – provide no end of opportunities for student health. The Blatt Center offers numerous basketball, racquetball, squash, and badminton courts, along with a large fitness center, an outdoor Challenge Course, and an indoor competition pool with a diving well. The Thurmond Center, in turn, offers a leisure pool, courts, an indoor track, and a 52-foot climbing wall, offers a first-rate, cutting-edge campus recreation center.
52-foot climbing wall
Longwood UniversityFarmville, VA
One of Virginia’s oldest universities, Longwood University began as a women’s college in 1839, but today stands as a public liberal arts college known for its excellent student support and student life community. As a small, public university, Longwood shows the kind of low student:faculty ratio and small classes that students expect from a small liberal arts college, but includes amenities like a larger public institution. From extensive community engagement and service learning to an active Greek Life and NCAA Division I athletics, Longwood has it all.
The Longwood University Health & Fitness Center is one of the best among small colleges, with more than 70,000 square feet of fitness and recreation space. Longwood is committed to student fitness, with a wide selection of classes and activities, as well as excellent facilities: a 6-lane, 25 meter pool; a fitness floor more than 7,000 square feet; and many club sports, from baseball to ultimate Frisbee. Longwood Outdoor Recreation includes a climbing wall and ropes course, as well as adventure trips organized by the Outdoor Club. Longwood’s campus recreation center is also LEED-certified Gold, a high standard in sustainable building.
30-foot climbing wall
University of Colorado BoulderBoulder, CO
Few places in the world are as active as Boulder, CO, and few universities are better for recreation than CU Boulder. Boulder is frequently named one of the healthiest and most active cities in the US, thanks to all of the outdoor activities available in the Rockies, and a culture of competition, self-improvement, and community engagement. CU Boulder has been at the center of that culture since its founding in 1876, when Colorado became a state, and CU Boulder is as well known for quality of life and culture as for academics and research – ranked one of the happiest campuses in America.
CU Boulder’s campus recreation center – simply called THE REC – is one of the largest and most state-of-the-art centers of its kind, with more than 300,000 square feet of facilities. Students have access to four pools, six basketball courts, and even an indoor turf gym for soccer and other field sports. THE REC is also home to the city’s only ice hockey rink, not to mention a Challenge Course, climbing wall, and more. Of course, Colorado is also known for sustainability, and the CU Boulder REC is LEED platinum certified, the highest level of sustainability.
Bear Creek Rec Center
Indoor turf gym
University of Minnesota-Twin CitiesMinneapolis, MN
Regularly named a Public Ivy, the University of Minnesota is the state’s flagship and one of the ten largest universities in the US, attracting students from across the Midwest and around the world. With more than 51,000 students, it can be difficult for students to feel part of a community, but UMN is well-known for its strong campus culture and welcoming character. A lot of that has to do with the amenities that UMN brings to its Twin Cities campuses, which help forster competition, health, and togetherness for a large, diverse student body.
It can be tough to stay in shape during those snowy Minnesota winters, but the University of Minnesota’s Recreation and Wellness – or RecWell, if you’re pressed for time – has more than enough facilities to keep students active and healthy. The 400,000 square foot Recreation and Wellness Center offers gyms, fitness centers, multi-use rooms, and a climbing and bouldering wall, while the older St. Paul Gym includes an 8-lane lap pool, suspended track, and more climbing and bouldering – it is the upper Midwest, after all. Of course, the campus recreation center isn’t all; the Outdoor Adventures program takes students hiking, climbing, and Nordic cross-country skiing, for those students who just have to be outside to feel the burn.
Climbing and bouldering walls
*photo sourced from JE Dunn Construction
University of Massachusetts-AmherstAmherst, MA
UMass Amherst is, of course, one of the primary names in public higher education – the largest and most prestigious public university in New England, and a model for public research institutions. Evan among its Ivy League neighbors, UMass is recognized for its academic excellence, student support, and campus life and community. Amherst, MA, is also known as one of the most-loved college towns in the US, as well as one of the healthiest and most active cities in the nation – physically as well as politically. All of those qualities are obvious at UMass.
Student recreation at UMass follows the university’s focus on community and individual well-being, as exercise, athletics, and wellness are fully integrated into higher education. UMass Amherst’s student recreation centers are top of the line, with amenities ranging from Boyden Gym’s 6 basketball courts, squash and handball courts, and 25 meter lap pool, to the $50 million, 120,000 square foot Campus Recreation Center. From sports to exercise to wellness classes, UMass Amherst provides all students need to stay healthy.
Two 25-meter pools
120,000 square foot Campus Recreation Center
University of Missouri-ColumbiaColumbia, MO
The first public university west of the Mississippi River, the University of Missouri is one of the most iconic and influential institutions in the Midwest – “Mizzou,” and say no more. The University of Missouri is known, of course, for the Missouri Tigers, one of the most dominant NCAA Division I athletics programs in the nation, but Mizzou doesn’t just concentrate on the needs of varsity athletes. The University of Missouri is one of the best destinations in the US for students who crave an active life along with educational excellence and opportunity.
MizzouRec brings its students one of the most impressive student recreation facilities anywhere, hands down – Tiger-themed, to suit Mizzou’s mascot. Indoor facilities include the Jungle Gym, a state of the art cardio and fitness center; an indoor track; Clark’s Boxing Gym, and Brewer Butte, a 35-foot climbing wall. But it’s in the Aquatic Center that Mizzou really shines – a 50-meter competition pool considered one of the best in the US, along with a diving well. For students who just want fun in the water, the Tiger Grotto and Truman’s Pond provide indoor and outdoor facilities for relaxation and recreation.
*photo sourced from Flickr/Missouri Division of Tourism
Oklahoma State University-Main CampusStillwater, OK
Oklahoma State University proudly calls itself “America’s Healthiest Campus,” and lists is accomplishments in that vein: the first stand-alone wellness center in America, the first designated Chief Wellness Officer, and one of the first tobacco-free campuses. Regularly named one of the best regional universities, and one of the nation’s top public universities, OKState has also put a premium on health and wellness, creating the Department of Wellness to ensure that all students, faculty, and staff have full access to all they need to stay healthy.
OKState students have access to two main facilities, which have merged under the umbrella of the OKState Department of Wellness. The Colvin Recreation Center, one of the largest in the region, provides more than 250,000 square feet of facilities: 10 basketball courts, an indoor track, indoor and outdoor pools, weights and cardio, a climbing wall, and golfing simulators. The Seretean Wellness Center, in turn offers everything from personal training and massage therapy to a demonstration kitchen. Students who love outdoor activities can turn to Camp Redlands, a park with cabins, swimming, and a ropes challenge course.
Two golf simulators and indoor putting green
California State University-Long BeachLong Beach, CA
One of the largest universities in California, California State University, Long Beach is also one of the most diverse institutions in the nation. Founded in 1949, CSU Long Beach was designed to provide higher education opportunity for returning veterans, and to meet the needs of the booming Los Angeles and Orange County population. From that humble beginning, CSU Long Beach has demonstrated its deep and ongoing commitment to the well-being of students and community alike, a central part of the university’s educational mission.
CSU Long Beach’s Student Recreation & Wellness Center is rightfully recognized as one of the best in the nation, built around an award-winning, 126,500 square foot facility. CSU Long Beach has some of the best-developed, state of the art facilities available, including a 20,000 square feet fitness area, three courts, an indoor track, and a custom, 25-foot climbing wall. Students can also turn to Beach Balance for massage therapy, nutrition, meditation, and other crucial wellness services. The SRWC is not only LEED certified; it’s also one of the most technologically advanced facilities of its kind, including biometric hand scanners, making CSU Long Beach’s SRWC a model campus recreation center.
Custom climbing wall
Biometric hand scanners
Colorado State University-Fort CollinsFort Collins, CO
Colorado is synonymous with outdoor adventure, physical fitness, and health – in fact, it’s regularly ranked one of the 10 healthiest states. And that’s just as true of Colorado State University, the state’s land-grant, public research university and flagship of the CSU system. Of course, with the Rockies in CSU’s backyard, the Outdoor Program is a major part of student life, with equipment rentals and organized trips to places like Longs Peak, but that’s just the start of CSU’s commitment to health and wellness.
Colorado State ups the ante for campus recreation with an award-winning CSU Student Recreation Center, named one of the top facilities in the nation by Men’s Health. Students at CSU can choose from five fitness studios, four basketball courts, and 24,000 square feet of weights and cardio. The Aquatic Center includes a 4-lane, 25-meter lap pool, a current channel (better known as a lazy river), and a climbing wall. Of course, it’s Colorado, so CSU doesn’t just have a climbing wall – students can practice their scaling on a 55-foot climbing wall, two free-standing rope-climbing towers, or an outdoor boulder. It’s a model campus recreation center.
University of Central FloridaOrlando, FL
Orlando, FL, is one of the world’s busiest tourist centers, with a handful of pretty famous theme parks in the region (Gatorland, of course). The University of Central Florida is a big part of life in Orlando, founded in 1963 to prepare engineers and technicians for the Space Coast’s moon shot programs. In just five decades, thanks to academic and research excellence and the explosive growth of central Florida, UCF has become the largest college in the US by student body, and a leader in student life. UCF knows innovation, it knows fun, and it knows what makes student life rewarding (in fact, UCF’s unique pedestrian-centered, concentric-circle layout was designed by Walt Disney, bringing together all three).
The UCF Recreation and Wellness Center shows what a campus recreation center should be, with a thorough commitment to the needs, wants, and well-being of a gigantic student body. At more than 150,000 square feet, the RWC offers everything from a 41-foot climbing wall to a 9-lane lap pool, plus a huge floor of cardio and weight equipment. For students who want the fresh air, a large outdoor leisure pool offers relaxation in the sun, while Lake Claire is UCF’s on-campus lake and beachfront for swimming and paddling. From the campus recreation center to trips to Weeki Watchee Springs and the ocean, UCF has it all.
41-foot climbing wall
Morehead State UniversityMorehead, KY
Morehead State University is a university for the people, frequently ranked one of the top regional colleges in the South by sources like U.S. News & World Report and the Princeton Review. Founded in 1887 as a teacher’s college, Morehead State has grown into a major feature of life in northeastern Kentucky, in the Appalachian foothills. MSU provides educational opportunity for more than 10,000 students, and has put its commitment to student life and health as a high priority.
The nationally-recognized Morehead State Recreation and Wellness Center was student-driven from the start, funded by $24 million raised by students. The RWC features more than 100 machines for cardio and weight training, three basketball courts, an indoor walking track, and free group fitness classes. Students can turn to the Natatorium for aquatics, including a vortex pool and a zipline. Of course, the Bluegrass State offers ample opportunities for adventure recreation, and MSU’s Outdoor Adventures program does it all, from day trips to the nearby Daniel Boone National Forest, to workshops in skills like fishing and climbing, to their Challenge Course.
*photo sourced from Murphy Group Architects
Texas Tech UniversityLubbock, TX
According to legend, Texas doesn’t do anything on a small scale, and that includes higher education; after all, with more than 37,000 students, Texas Tech University isn’t even in the top 5 biggest colleges in Texas. One of the nation’s most productive public research universities, Texas Tech draws students from across the Southwest and the US, and with a student body of that size and diversity, TTU puts a great emphasis on student life. From one of the most beautiful campuses in the Southwest, to one of the finest public art collections in the nation, Texas Tech makes sure life in Lubbock is attractive and active.
Texas Tech has one of the most impressive campus recreation centers in the nation, from the TTU Student Rec Center to the award-winning Leisure Pool. The TTU Leisure Pool, in particular, is one of the finest in any college anywhere: eight lap lanes, 645 foot Lazy River, 10 foot water slide, and all kinds of other fun features. Students can also challenge themselves on an enormous climbing wall, more than 4000 square feet, with clinics, workshops, and group parties available. Wellness programs, massage therapy, personal training, and more keep Texas Tech students healthy and active.
4000 square foot climbing wall
The University of Texas Rio Grande ValleyEdinburg, TX
Technically, the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley is an extremely young institution – founded in 2013, and fully operational in just 2015. But that’s only because UTRGV is a consolidation of two former UT campuses in Brownsville, TX, and Edinburg, TX, brought together to meet the needs of a region bursting at the seams with residents. Today, UT Rio Grande Valley is the largest majority-Hispanic (more than 80%) university in the US, and stands to become one of the largest and most influential Texas universities in coming years.
With two campuses and more than 28,000 students, UT Rio Grande Valley offers a wealth of recreation opportunities, with a campus recreation center and other facilities on each campus. Students on the Edinburg campus have the University Recreation Center (EUREC), a 144,000 square foot facility with basketball and racquetball courts, fitness centers, and a 35 foot climbing wall, as well as an outdoor leisure pool. Students in Brownsville have the Garza Gymn, the REC center, and Duck Head, a lush, green park surrounded by water and shaped like – well, a duck’s head. A large and growing student body will continue to make the campus recreation center a priority for UT Rio Grande Valley.
Drexel UniversityPhiladelphia, PA
Drexel University is a Philadelphia landmark, part of the life of the city since 1891. When it was founded, Drexel’s purpose was to provide education for all, regardless of class or background, in useful, practical subjects. With that end, Drexel is known for its deep connections within the city, and for its cooperative education programs, in which students work with Drexel’s industry partners while earning credits. But Drexel is also dedicated to service and support for students and the community, and that commitment can be seen even in its recreation programs.
Drexel University’s Recreation Center has been named the best gym in Philadelphia, earning accolades and reaching out to the community since its opening in 2010. This campus recreation center encompasses more than 240,000 square feet of facilities, from an 18,000 square foot weight and cardio center, to a 13,000 square foot multipurpose gymnasium. A 6-lane, 25 meter competition pool is offered for hardcore swimmers, while squash courts are set up for competitions with spectator seating. A climbing wall with free classes and private instruction shows students the ropes.
International competition squash courts
University of ArizonaTucson, AZ
Arizona’s oldest university, the University of Arizona is home to more than 40,000 students and a dominant part of life in Tucson, the state’s second-largest city. With more than 200 days of sunshine and surrounded by five mountain ranges, Tucson is one of the most active cities in the nation, and UA students certainly take advantage of that opportunity. From the championship-winning, NCAA Division I Wildcats teams, to intramural sports and outdoor adventure, sports and recreation are central to life at the University of Arizona.
The University of Arizona Campus Recreation Center is one of the top examples of a student recreation facility in the Southwest, and one of the most highly developed student recreation programs anywhere. There is no reason at all for students to be bored, or out of shape, at UA – indoor and outdoor activities, world-class facilities, and wellness options ranging from yoga to nutrition. In particular, UA offers an incredible number of opportunities from the Outdoor Rec Program, from hiking and climbing to kayaking and caving – everything the Southwest has to offer.
Outdoor Rec Program
University of Alabama at BirminghamBirmingham, AL
Originally just an extension campus for the University of Alabama, since its founding in 1936 the University of Alabama at Birmingham has grown into the state’s only top-tier public research university, and a dominant Southern institution. In addition to standing as the state’s leading medical and health sciences institution, UAB is also increasingly known for its athletic programs, having grown into a high-performing member of the NCAA Division I. Sports have always been important in Alabama, and UAB’s basketball, football, and other teams are reaching national fame.
For the rest of UA Birmingham’s more than 20,000 students, the UAB Campus Recreation Center is an all-inclusive, massive facility offering nearly everything a student could want for fitness and fun. More than 150,000 square feet of indoor space includes a 4-court basketball gym, a rubber-floored gym for indoor soccer, and racquetball courts, along with an 18,000 square foot fitness center and a large climbing wall. The Campus Rec Aquatic Center four 25-yard lanes, a vortex pool, and a hot tub, along with wet classrooms. Adventure Recreation takes students out for hiking, kayaking, and more.
Indoor soccer gym
University of South Florida-Main CampusTampa, FL
Tampa, FL, of course, is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the US, with ports full of cruise ships and the peaceful waters of the Gulf Coast. The University of South Florida has been providing higher education for the region since 1956, when it became the first public research university conceived and founded in the 20th century. Meeting the needs of the growing region helped make USF one of the largest universities in the US, and a commitment to student health and well-being – as well as Tampa’s year-round sunny, warm climate – have come together to make USF a destination for active students.
The USF Campus Recreation Center has been expanded and enhanced in recent years, growing to more than 180,000 square feet of fitness opportunities. The fitness area alone offers some 28,000 square feet of equipment and machines, providing just about anything the fitness buff needs for a satisfying workout. USF Aquatics includes the Campus Recreation Center Indoor Pool for lap swimming, and the Fit Outdoor Pool for lounging in a heated pool fit for a Gulf Coast resort. A Fitness Trail offers more than a mile of shaded running and walking (especially welcome on those sunny summer days) and a multitude of group classes means no one has to exercise alone.
Fit Outdoor Pool
Temple UniversityPhiladelphia, PA
Since its beginnings in the basement of a Philadelphia Baptist church, Temple University has been dedicated to providing the best opportunity for all students. Originally a night school for working adults, Temple has grown into one of the most respected universities in the North, regularly ranked a top national research university. The spirit of service and support has continued to guide Temple throughout nearly a century and a half, making student life at Temple welcoming.
Temple’s Campus Recreation is varied and accessible, with a number of top-quality facilities, including the 16,000 square foot Temple University Fitness (TUF), the IBC Student Rec Center, and the Aramark Student Training and Recreation (STAR) Center. Students can even enjoy fitness gaming with interactive Wii and Xbox Kinect stations. But Temple’s student recreation program may be most interesting for its wide and inclusive definition of fitness, providing non-traditional approaches to exercise. These include an Adapted Fitness program allowing students with disabilities to take part in activities, such as tandem biking for visually-impaired students. Temple’s campus recreation center makes a place for everyone.
*photo sourced from Hunter Roberts Construction Group
University of Cincinnati-Main CampusCincinnati, OH
Dating back to a small private medical school founded in 1819, the University of Cincinnati is the oldest school in the city of Cincinnati, OH, and a major public research institution – second-largest in Ohio. UC grew alongside the city, establishing a history of reaching out to the community and making a place not only for students, but for everyone with an interest in what was best for Cincinnati. That includes the University of Cincinnati’s commitment to health and wellness, including opening up their campus recreation centers to the community.
The University of Cincinnati campus recreation offers two centers for students, faculty, and partners. The larger Campus Recreation Center offer more than 200,000 square feet of space for swimming, fitness, and sports. Swim-loving students can enjoy the 50 meter lap pool, or leisure pool (which includes a whirlpool), while 6 basketball courts provide plenty of chances for play. Two climbing walls – 40 and 28 feet – bring a taste of the outdoors inside. The smaller Fitness Center (FC) at CARE/Crawley includes 12,000 square feet of equipment for students, faculty, and community members.
Leisure Pool and Whirlpool
40 and 28 foot climbing walls
*photo sourced from HLB Lighting
University of HoustonHouston, TX
Flagship of the University of Houston system, the University of Houston is Texas third-largest university and a major public research institution. UH is one of the most diverse universities in the US, with a large number of international and Hispanic students and a sizable on-campus student body. With so many students making the University of Houston their home, UH has built one of the most enviable student recreation programs in the nation, including indoor and outdoor facilities and adventure recreation.
The University of Houston Campus Recreation Center stands alongside any competitor. Three basketball courts, two high-school sized courts, an indoor soccer field, a 53 foot climbing wall, and a 70 meter competition lap pool – and that’s just the beginning. UH also has one of the most impressive leisure pools out there, a 31,000 square foot facility with three lap pools, two water slides, a 20-person hot tub, and a lovely waterfall with underwater seating. Outdoor fitness includes intramural fields and functional fitness units around the outdoor track for training in the Texas sun.
53 foot climbing wall
University of Colorado Colorado SpringsColorado Springs, CO
Students at the University of Colorado Colorado Springs couldn’t have it better, if they love an active lifestyle. A top-ranked regional university, UCCS has health entrenched deep in its DNA – in fact, before it was a university, UCCS was the site of a sanatorium nicknamed The Sun Palace. In that spirit, CU Colorado Springs has developed a unique approach to holistic student health and wellness that will undoubtedly prove to be influential; combining Campus Recreation, Student Health, and University Counseling together under one program dedicated to fitness, health, and mental health.
The UCCS Gallogly Recreation and Wellness Center, opened in 2016, is a nearly 100,000 state of the art facility funded fully by student fundraising – more than $16 million. With 4 basketball courts, an indoor track, and nearly 15,000 square feet fitness center, students have plenty of opportunity for indoor recreation. Meanwhile, an Aquatic Center with a 25 meter lap pool, leisure pool, and water slide provide fun in the water; a 20 person hot tub also offers views of Pikes Peak and the Garden of the Gods. The Student Outdoor Learning Experience (SOLE) Center makes the most of Colorado for UCCS students, from bike rentals to a bouldering wall.
Student Outdoor Learning Experience (SOLE)
Missouri State University-SpringfieldSpringfield, MO
Beginning as a small teacher’s college in 1905, Missouri State University has always prioritized the needs of Missouri’s people for practical knowledge and skills. As Missouri’s second-largest university, MSU provides education for more than 26,000 people on four campuses, from bachelor’s to doctoral degrees. Missouri State is for the people, and a student life focused on community and engagement (more than 400,000 hours of community service annually) extends to recreation and athletics as well.
Missouri State campus recreation offers two main student recreation facilities, the Foster Recreation Center and the Hammons Student Center. Foster, the main campus recreation center, is the largest and one of the most comprehensive recreation complexes in the region. There, students have access to an Aquatics Center with a 25 lane lap pool, current channel, spa and sauna, and a zip line. Basketball courts, a climbing wall and boulder, and a large selection of weights and cardio equipment are also available. Don’t miss paddleboard and logrolling classes in the FRC. Hammon Student Center also offers a lap pool, indoor track, multi-use courts, and more.
Paddleboard and Logrolling
*photo sourced from CannonDesign
California State University-FullertonFullerton, CA
The largest university in the California State University system, CSU Fullerton is also one of the most diverse institutions in the nation, designated both as a Hispanic-Serving and an Asian American Native American Pacific Islander-Serving university. With its location in Orange County, CSU Fullerton has the endlessly beautiful weather and active lifestyle everyone thinks of when they think of Southern California. With beaches to the west and mountains to the east, there’s no end of activities.
CSU Fullerton’s Titan Recreation offers Fullerton students access to all sorts of fitness options, from a full selection of equipment in the Weight Training/Cardio Fitness Room, to three full basketball courts and an indoor jogging track. A 30-foot climbing wall gives students room to improve their climbing skills, while racquetball courts, spin room, and multipurpose rooms provide exercise options. The outdoor pool has lap swimming lanes as well as a comfortable leisure pool area for students and guests. Fullerton’s campus recreation center is a prime location for fitness.
30-foot climbing wall
Lap and Leisure Pool
* photo sourced from Anderson Howard
Virginia Commonwealth UniversityRichmond, VA
Technically, Virginia Commonwealth University was only founded in 1968, when the Medical College of Virginia merged with the Richmond Professional Institute, but the oldest portions of VCU have been a part of life in Richmond since 1838. With more than 31,000 students, VCU is a major source of professionals, researchers, and leaders, and a vivacious student life provides a foundation for community engagement and development. A top-notch campus recreation center also works to keep VCU’s Rams health and active.
VCU has set a new standard for student fitness facilities in Virginia, with the spectacular Cary Street Gym. Between the VCU Fitness Center and the Aquatic Center, students can do just about anything they want to stay active and healthy. The Fitness Center offers more than 18,000 square feet of weights and equipment (including ADA accessible options), along with 4 basketball courts, indoor turf field, indoor track, and two climbing walls – a 37-foot wall, and 10-foot boulder. The Aquatic Center is one of the most impressive in the South, with a 25-yard lap pool and a Leisure pool, complete with water basketball and volleyball and a vortex.
Cary Street Aquatic Center
Climbing and Bouldering Walls
Nova Southeastern UniversityFort Lauderdale, FL
One of the most promising, up and coming universities in the US, Nova Southeastern University began with the Nova University of Advanced Technology in 1964, reaching its current form in 1994 when it merged with Southeastern University of the Health Sciences. With a focus on health sciences, business, and STEM, Nova Southeastern is rapidly becoming a major force in professional education for Florida. As one of the most diverse universities in the nation (only a third of students identify as white, with many other races and nationalities represented), Nova Southeastern has also become known for its vibrant campus life.
Nova Southeastern offers some of the most luxurious and inviting student recreation facilities in Florida, and even in the nation. The Nova Southeastern Office of Recreation and Wellness (RecWell) is in charge of the RecPlex, a campus recreation center with more than 100,000 square feet of facilities, from 2 basketball courts and 3 racquetball courts, to 15,000 square feet of equipment and a climbing wall. The RecPlex Aquatic Center is also the site of South Florida’s largest leisure pool, while the competition pool can be set up for 25 or 50 meter laps. The new Rolling Hills Residential Leisure Pool provides resort-style accommodations, in classic Fort Lauderdale style.
Rolling Hills Residential Leisure Pool
University of South DakotaVermillion, SD
South Dakota’s flagship, the University of South Dakota, is crucial to the state’s life – it’s the only medical school, law school, and business school, after all. USD was actually founded before the state of South Dakota, and played more of a role in shaping Dakota from a territory to a modern state than any other institution. As South Dakota’s primary public university, USD has a vibrant campus community, and provides the highest quality amenities and opportunities for more than 9000 students.
Keeping in shape during those long South Dakota winters can be a challenge; that’s why USD has developed a campus recreation center second to none in the Dakotas. The 61,000 square foot USD Wellness Center provides everything students need to stay active year-round, in any kind of weather: two basketball courts and a multi-use court, an indoor track, several fitness rooms and a spin cycling center are just the start. A 38-foot climbing wall with 9 rope stations lets students prep for adventure, and the DakotaDome Pool offers lap swimming and water aerobics.
38 foot climbing wall
Liberty UniversityLynchburg, VA
While Liberty University has brought the city to national attention, Lynchburg, VA, is still largely a sleepy small town; it’s often named one of the best places to live in Virginia for its stable economy and quiet community. Founded in 1971, Liberty has always been committed to creating a Christ-centered environment for Christian students, a dedicated and committed educational home for believers. Today, Liberty is the largest Christian school in the world, though its on-campus student body stands at around 15,000, and the university has lost none of its tight-knit nature.
Liberty is known for its strong sense of campus community, and the university makes great efforts to keep students on campus entertained and active. Liberty offers numerous campus recreation centers, including LaHaye Rec and Fit, with comprehensive fitness equipment and a 40 foot climbing wall. The Liberty Natatorium provides a 25 meter competition pool and a 17 foot diving well, while the David’s Place Pool is an inviting leisure pool outside the student center. Liberty is especially notable for having the only university-sponsored skate park in the nation, Liberty Mountain Skate Park.
Liberty Mountain Skate Park
David’s Place Pool
Kent State University at KentKent, OH
As one of the largest regional systems in the US – with seven regional campuses in addition to its main campus – Kent State University has been focused on practical educational needs from day 1. Originally founded as a teacher’s college, Kent State is central to higher education and professional study in northern Ohio, especially in areas related to aeronautics and engineering. But even with a mission spread across eight campuses, Kent State still makes student life and community-building a priority, providing no shortage of activities and recreation for its 28,000+ student body.
Kent State’s Department of Recreational Services is dedicated to providing the best student activities possible, and the university has designed one of the best recreation centers in the Midwest. The Student Recreation and Wellness Center offers a wide variety of options in an award-winning, 150,000 square foot facility, including one of the finest Natatoriums in the region: 25 meter, 6-lane lap pool, recreation pool, vortex, and spa. A 35-foot climbing wall in the Adventure Center preps students for real-life adventures sponsored by Rec Services, and the Ice Arena includes both a competition rink and a recreation rink. Rather than one campus recreation center, Kent State’s numerous facilities are connected by a two-mile, 18-hole disc golf course to form the Fitness Corridor.
Disc Golf Course
University of Akron Main CampusAkron, OH
The University of Akron is a school on the rise, especially in engineering and other STEM fields. UA was founded by the Universalist Church in 1870, but when it was given over to the city of Akron at the beginning of the 20th century, the university really took off. That was the beginning of Akron’s heyday in the rubber and automotive industry, and the university developed into one of the region’s leading public research institution in engineering and chemistry. Today, Akron attracts students from all over the US to its rigorous science programs, and it provides them with plenty of recreation opportunities.
The University of Akron Student Recreation and Wellness Center puts many larger, more prominent institutions to shame. The SRWC opened in 2004, and at nearly 300,000 square feet, offers more than enough activity and fitness options to keep students busy 12 months of the year. Five multi-purpose gyms, an indoor track, and more than 250 pieces of fitness equipment are impressive, but what has really earned Akron national attention is its leisure pool, complete with a lazy river and 30-person hot tub. A 53-foot climbing wall and boulder are just icing on the cake of an amazing campus recreation center.
53-foot climbing wall
Eastern Washington UniversityCheney, WA
Located in the small town of Cheney, in Spokane County, Eastern Washington University is a leading regional institution devoted to meeting the professional and research needs of the region. With its deep roots in the region, EWU makes outreach to the community a priority – nearly 90% of students are from Washington. Cheney’s rural location, surrounded by mountains, lakes, and the forests of the Turnbull National Wildlife Refuge, makes EWU a prime attraction for outdoors-loving students, but campus life is also full of adventure.
Eastern Washington University offers students not just one campus recreation center, but several exceptional facilities. EWU’s University Recreation Center (URC) is more than 115,000 square feet of fitness and recreation, from a 15,000 square foot fitness center to a Rock Climbing Wall, where students can take classes for credit. The Climbing Wall can also help prepare students for Outdoor Adventure outings, such as ice climbing excursions (yes, really). The Sports and Recreation Center, in turn, is more than 150,000 square feet, consisting of several gymnasiums, weights and cardio, and the Aquatic Center, which provides a 25 meter lap pool and an 18 foot diving well.
For-credit climbing classes
Indiana State UniversityTerre Haute, IN
Indiana State University has long been ranked one of the top regional institutions in the Midwest, bringing more than 150 years of service to the Wabash River Valley. Originally founded as a teacher’s training school in 1865, Indiana State is a comprehensive, service-oriented doctoral research university today. Well known for its community service and engagement – including recognition from the President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll – Indiana State also emphasizes service for the student body.
Indiana State’s Campus Recreation brings top of the line facilities to Terre Haute, providing excellent opportunities to Indiana State students. The Student Recreation Center – opened in 2009 – is a $21 million, full fitness destination, with a 3-court gymnasium, a fitness center, and a Natatorium with lap pool, leisure pool, and 22-person spa, among other amenities. The Health and Human Services Arena (which is currently under remodeling) includes a 6-court gym, indoor tennis court, swimming pool, and climbing wall. Indiana State makes sure all students have access to an exceptional campus recreation center.
Indoor tennis court
Washburn UniversityTopeka, KS
A small, public university in Topeka, KS, Washburn University is regularly ranked among the best regional institutions in the Midwest by publishers like U.S. News & World Report. Washburn began in 1865, and stands today as Kansas’ leading public liberal arts college, providing more than 7500 students a year with a strong grounding in the liberal arts, but with a focus on professional careers. A low student:faculty ratio and a strong on-campus culture provide students with the kind of support and community that makes a liberal arts college attractive.
Washburn also makes sure to provide students with all they need to stay active and healthy; the Washburn Student Recreation and Wellness Center offers ample opportunity for Washburn’s student body. The campus recreation center’s 37,000 square feet are well-used, with three basketball courts, the Fitness Loft, an indoor track, and a 25 foot climbing wall. There are also several programs designed to keep Washburn students engagement, including Active Ichabods (a play on the school mascot, Ichabod), Bod Buddies, and various fitness competitions throughout the year.
Active Ichabods and Bod Buddies fitness programs