Rec Center Keeps Active Summer Tempo

By Daniel Perez

UTEP News Service

Under a blazing El Paso sun, more than a dozen UTEP students recently underwent intense safety training to be certified as managers of the High Ropes course outside the University’s Student Recreation Center.

The group needed the practice because the center had booked 12 groups from on- and off-campus to use the challenge course during the first two weeks of June. The course is used to build trust, teamwork and leadership styles.The Ropes Challenge Course offered behind UTEP’s Student Recreation Center is one of the reasons the center has been busy during the summer break. Photo by J.R. Hernandez / UTEP News ServiceThe Ropes Challenge Course offered behind UTEP’s Student Recreation Center is one of the reasons the center has been busy during the summer break. Photo by J.R. Hernandez / UTEP News Service

The revolving groups will add to the daily hustle and bustle at the center, which has been busy throughout the summer as students, staff, faculty, alumni and guests maintain their workout regimes.  Popular fitness programs include spinning, pilates and “Kardio Kickboxing.”

The center offers special deals for classes and reasonable rates for students taking the summer off, said Norma Saavedra, center fitness coordinator. For example, members were encouraged to try out such classes as weight training and conditioning, and body sculpting for free during the first week in June. Numerous classes began June 4 and will run through Aug. 10.

“Our summer numbers continue to increase,” Saavedra said. “I’m happy to see the popularity of this place. We work to instill the concept of a healthy lifestyle, and that is an ongoing effort.”

Sophomore criminal justice major Frank Ayala said he has been a regular customer at the rec center since he enrolled two years ago. While he usually sticks to the lifting and cardio areas, he said the summer fitness program specials – $25 for the first class and $15 for additional programs – may lure him to try something new.

“I want to do yoga and maybe I’ll try a zumba class to take advantage of the deal,” he said before he started his workout.

Cathy Bonner, a 1990 UTEP graduate and Canutillo High School teacher, said she comes about four times per week, usually in the mornings, to use the weight machines and treadmills.

“It’s a fabulous building,” she said during an exercise break.

She added  that she enjoys using the center’s pools that have been closed for extensive renovations that included the pools being re-plastered, new decks and remodeled locker rooms. The pool area should reopen Aug. 29, said Greg McNicol, associate vice president for facilities services.But the impact of the center stretches well outside the building, which enjoyed a $32-million expansion and grand reopening in August 2011. It also is a hub for other activities athletic and otherwise. Center staff oversee the challenge courses, outdoor and out-of-town trips, and equipment rentals of everything from camping gear to flag football equipment for students, staff and faculty for a nominal fee.

Kim Keeton-Pettit is the coordinator of the Outdoor Adventure Programs. She supervised the recent ropes training sessions and shared end-of-the-day insights with the students, who were dehydrated and fatigued. As hot winds whistled through her camp, a short walk behind the center, Keeton-Pettit reminded them to communicate with one another and their charges, and to learn from their mistakes.

“(Your) job is to lead and keep things safe,” she said.

Keeton-Pettit is finalizing the schedule for outdoor trips that will start in September. They include a backpack trip to the Gila National Forest and excursions to Carlsbad Caverns and the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta in October.