To the editor:
I applaud Kassie Stewart’s advocacy of healthy lifestyles for Case Western Reserve University students and, ultimately, alumni who experience the benefits of fitness while enrolled here. Unfortunately, her column last week, “Finance over fitness,” suggests solutions unlikely to achieve those goals. Her intent is admirable, however, and we do want to be responsive to the CWRU community in every way that we can.
I want to begin by thanking Stewart for acknowledging the significant improvements that 121 Fitness has made since assuming management of the Veale Convocation, Recreation and Athletic Center this summer. I also want to commend her for being among those students who consistently pressed for improvements in the center’s hours and cleanliness.
The first point to keep in mind is that 121 Fitness is not a for-profit entity. Since 2003, Case Western Reserve has owned and operated 121 Fitness Center. We are a unit of the university, just like athletics, counseling services or university health services. The university put the Veale fitness spaces and Donnell pool under the management of 121 Fitness in August 2014, and more recently, the first floor fitness room at the newly opened Wyant Athletic and Wellness Center. Our initial work at Veale has centered on facility renovations, new equipment, reupholstering of other equipment, lots of deep cleaning and staffing. We recently added a few small group training classes and are rolling out introductory weightlifting offerings this month.
We will continue to add new programs as the year unfolds. Many of the offerings at Veale will be free, but select ones that include specific equipment, small groups or involve particular advanced degrees or certifications will require a small fee, though no more than $5 per class. Like most universities—including Harvard University, Carnegie Mellon University and Washington University at St. Louis, to name a few—there is also a charge for personal training and individual nutrition counselling. By limiting this fee only to those who want more intensive, one-on-one guidance with certified professionals, we spare the rest of the student body the cost of subsidizing a relatively small number of participants.
Finally, the university does charge for membership in the original 121 Fitness Center location. It is open to the public and provides a volume and range of incentives free with membership that significantly exceed traditional campus-based programs. Examples include free parking, child care, lockers, towels, intro training sessions, full maintenance and housekeeping staff, discounts on programs and services and access to 80 different exercise classes per week. Members of the university community receive discounted memberships, and graduate and professional students pay even lower fees as part of the university’s wellness initiative. As with select classes, personal training and nutrition counselling, we charge additional fees for 121 membership at this location so that only those who want its much higher level of services bear the expense, rather than passing it along to the entire community. Our pricing structures are designed to provide the highest-quality experience at the fairest and most reasonable cost.
Ultimately, Stewart is to be commended for seeking ways to make exercise more attractive and engaging for students. We share that goal, and look forward to continuing to work with the campus community to realize it.
Director of University Fitness Centers at CWRU