GV Recreation and Wellness Center offers vast variety of opportunities for all


GVL | Annabelle Robinson

Lea Gaetto, Staff Writer

For many students, faculty and staff members at Grand Valley State University, the Recreation and Wellness Center is an integral part of their GVSU experience with many opportunities to take advantage of.

Sydney Baker, the Facility Operations and Group Coordinator of the rec center, has been a part of the community for one year and has since expressed that there has been an immense amount of change since she first began. 

“The focus of our attention has been how we can make life easier for our students,” Baker said. 

In order to appeal to its many users, the team is always looking for more ways to improve. Baker explained that some changes can be as simple as adding new equipment, like seven squat racks, or as elaborate as increasing the visibility of ADA accessible items and gender inclusive locker rooms. 

No matter the size or extensivity of the modification, the rec center strives to make all students feel comfortable in this space to explore, exercise and engage with other members of the Laker community.

Baker said the student workers have an essential role in building this sense of reassurance within the facility as they are users themselves so they understand the wants, needs and frustrations other members may have.

“Their feedback is behind a lot of the changes and improvements that the rec has seen recently,” Baker said. “Whether it be a friendly welcome when you swipe in, unlocking your locker or even friendships formed as you become a regular, they love to see you.”

She said the connections formed are a reassuring factor to those who may feel the facility is intimidating at first glance.

“Getting a lift in to shake the day, walking the track when the weather inevitably keeps us inside, attending a group exercise class to exercise physically and socially— I can go on and on,” Baker said. “Seeking balance while in college is important, and I feel a lot of our students turn to the programs and facilities offered to offset the stress of simply being a college student in 2022.”

Student-athlete Brenden Faulkner, who runs on GVSU’s track and cross country team, echoed Baker’s observation and said the facility helps him balance his busy schedule and overcome any obstacles he may encounter. 

“As an athlete, the recreation and wellness center is a staple element in my life,” Faulkner said. “I go in to better my body every trip there, and the wide variety of equipment and vast spacious areas provide one of the best places to improve in all categories of my life.”

Faulkner said the facility helps him not just to better his athletic career, but also to overcome any personal battles he may face as a student-athlete.

“A not-so-explicit value of the Recreation and Wellness Center is its impact on my mental health with schooling,” Faulkner said. “Acquiring education is a hefty challenge to take on, and the rec helps me escape all the madness of it. The build up of stress and assignments can exact a heavy toll on a person, and having a place where I can clear my mind helps me push through and stay positive.”

Many students, however, do not have access to the proper knowledge of how to work out, which evokes a sense of ‘gymtimidation.’ This is where Emma Strasberger, the Fitness and Wellness Graduate Assistant of the Personal Training Program, can step in and help them on their path to overcoming this gym fear. 

“At Grand Valley State University, we have five to six student certified trainers, who are incredibly experienced and eager to help others achieve their gym goals,” Strasberger said. “We train our trainers to help their clients feel comfortable in the gym and know that we are here to answer questions whenever they need assistance.”

All an individual would need to do to sign up for this opportunity is download the Mindbody app, search GVSU Recreation and Wellness and purchase a personal training package. After doing so, the new trainee will fill out an interest form based on their goals during a scheduled consultation.

The mission of these personal trainers is to use their one-on-one interaction time to prepare their clients to keep learning and growing beyond their time with a coach. The action plan they have developed is not one of those “cookie cutter programs.”

“We personalize training for each individual, so every time they meet with their trainer, they get a new daily program,” Strasberger said.

As a result of holding themselves accountable to their course and instructor, students who take advantage of this opportunity experience tremendous success.

“Overall, we want our clients to succeed beyond our private sessions,” Strasberger said. “We want them to benefit from all the physical and wellness aspects that come with exercise and personal training, which is why all of us here at the Rec and Wellness Center are so passionate about working with our clients and helping them reach their goals.”