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Sun Devil Fitness Complex aims to increase student engagement

Many ASU students say they don't have time to head to the gym, but SDFC directors want to change that


Joseline Torres, a junior majoring in social work, uses the equipment at the Sun Devil Fitness Complex on the downtown campus on Thursday, Nov. 9, 2017.

Top Sun Devil Fitness Complex staff aim to increase student engagement at the SDFC locations across the four major ASU campuses.

Despite the availability of fitness centers on the four main ASU campuses, less than half of students actually utilized them from July 2016 to May 2017, according to an email from Courtney Smith, the assistant director of fitness for the Sun Devil Fitness Complexes. 

From July 1, 2016 to May 15, 2017, all four SDFC campus locations saw 1,783,277 visits. There were 43,250 unique users across all locations, and "of that number, 36,967 were students across all locations," Smith wrote in the email.  

Smith wrote that just above 35 percent of students were using the facilities, and that SDFC leadership aims to increase engagement to 60 percent by 2020. 

“We're constantly trying to get students into our building,” Smith said in an interview. 

The SDFC currently promotes its facility by partnering with school organizations such as Undergraduate Student Government and the Programming and Activities Board, according to Megan Dalton, the director for the Well Devil Coalition, an ASU-based health advocacy group.

“Students have very, very busy schedules, so I don’t know how many students treat exercise and wellness as their top priority,” Smith said.

Some students who use the SDFC early on in the semester usually start to forget about it or push it off, which leads to a decrease in retention of gym users, Smith said.

“What we have a low percentage of is students coming back for second, third and fourth visit in our building," Smith said. "We know that we’re having a lot of students come in, just not as frequently as we want to.” 

Dalton said students have the perception that using the gym takes too much time. However, she said students can easily make time for a 15 or 20-minute workout within their schedules and that small training sessions can make a difference.

Dalton said many students may be discouraged because they're unfamiliar with how to use gym equipment and that they think that they have to follow a certain routine when working out. 

"...They think that they don’t have time, (but) most of the time they do," she said. "They just have that preconceived idea that they don’t because they have homework due and they have so many requirements.”

Elizabeth Salas, a freshman majoring in medical studies, said she used to visit the gym during the first month of the semester but stopped because of mounting schoolwork. She also said she feels that the walk to the gym takes up time that can be used toward studying or doing homework.

“I feel like I prioritize more on my school than making time to actually go to the gym," Salas said.

Salas said she would start going to the gym again if someone could frequently encourage and remind her to do so.

Jasmine Cervantes, a sophomore majoring in psychology, also said she wishes she could use the gym more, but work, school and commuting prevent her from going.

“I've always wanted to (use the gym). It's just like I'm busy all the time. I have to go to work and stuff, so it's hard to find time to actually do that," Cervantes said.

Smith said engaging in a healthy lifestyle has been proven to help students perform better not just in the gym, but also in the classroom.

“It’s about getting students well and making sure that they’re being active. Science has proven time and time again that exercise does help students to focus and helps to retain information,” Smith said. 

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