Virginia Tech Housing and Residential Life and Recreational Sports has recently opened a new outdoor fitness park with the purpose to improve students’ wellness. University officials hope that this $120,000 park will get students to spend more time outside.
The fitness park is located at the Prairie Quad in front of Lee Hall and behind Peddrew-Yates Hall and New Residence Hall East.
Director of Recreational Sports Ali Cross researched which type of equipment would be best for the students and the execution of the project as a whole. The park is composed of three sections. The first section, which is closest to Pritchard Hall, has outdoor fitness equipment for students to use.
“There is a series of outdoor activities,” said Frances Keene, the interim director of Housing and Residence at Virginia Tech. “There's rings, there’s bars, there’s all sorts of way to exercise in the fitness park.”
The second main component is the improvement of two sand volleyball courts, resurfaced basketball courts, areas implemented for people to spectate, and the installation of programmable lights. Currently, these lights are set to shut off at 10 p.m., but can be adjusted to accommodate late night events.
Finally, on the side of the quad closest to Peddrew-Yates Hall and New Residence Hall East lies a grassy area, intended for soccer or any other activity not requiring outdoor equipment.
“We’re trying to improve the outdoor amenities, particularly around the residential quadrant of campus,” said Frank Shushok, senior associate vice president for Student Affairs. “If we create great spaces for students to do fun things, they’ll use it.”
The project, which commenced in June 2018, was intended to be completed before the start of the fall semester in 2018, but weather implications over the summer halted progress.
While parts of the park unofficially opened for students at the end of last semester, final steps of the project such as laying down sod and adding more sidewalk to the area should be completed in the upcoming weeks according to Keene.
Additionally, Keene stated that Housing and Residential Life and Recreational Sports are looking into starting programs such as “Friday Nights in the Park,” which are intended to provide students opportunities to be active and meet new people.
“I hope the students get enjoyment out of it, build community with other students, and try something they would not normally try,” Keene said.
Shuskok said that there is a major push to improve student wellness in regards to spending time outside, thus the commencement of projects such as the fitness park or the renovated patio outside of O'Shaughnessy Hall.
“There’s lots of good research that says students who spend more time outside are healthier, have a greater sense of wellbeing, they’re more active. I won’t be surprised if we do another fitness park somewhere at some point too,” Shushok said. “We think students using the fitness park will make friends, be healthy, and enjoy Virginia Tech. If those three happen then it is 100 percent successful.”
Editor's Note: An earlier version of this article listed the Recreational Sports department as Campus Recreation. This error has been fixed.