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Students, along with their guests, are rushing to the Recreation and Wellness Center in anticipation of Valentine's Day and spring break, causing an increase in traffic at the facility, RWC employees said.

"The general participation of students usually follows national trends, such as spikes after the New Year and before spring break," said Michelle Fitzgerald, the assistant director of facilities for the RWC. "I hadn't really considered Valentine's Day, so it was interesting to see an increase in participation."

Over the past three years, the RWC has experienced an average of 5,000 additional patrons in February, according to Fitzgerald's research based on monthly participation reports.

However, the numbers to do not provide insight into who the additional patrons are – only that they're participating.

"I've definitely noticed more girls and a lot more couples," said sophomore accounting major Allison Chaney, a RWC member services employee. "There has been an increase in patrons with guest passes. A lot of people will bring their boyfriends or girlfriends who might not go here."

Chaney, who works out every day, said she noticed a definite increase in the number of people in her group-exercise class on Thursday and said this increase in participants is because people are trying to get fit for the holidays.

But these extra thousands of people have had an effect on the pace of the gym and how quickly patrons can move from machine to machine during a workout. Sophomore hospitality major Jordan Schwartz, who goes to the gym at least five times a week, experienced this firsthand.

"It's not an inconvenience because the gym welcomes all, but it definitely slows down my workout routine when I have to wait five minutes for each machine," he said.

However, Fitzgerald said she feels confident the facility can accommodate the higher traffic.

"We have great preparation in place to begin with," she said. "We know there are times when the gym will be busier than others, such as from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m., which are our peak hours. Those 5,000 additional guests are spread out throughout the day, so we make sure we are adequately staffed and prepared."

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Daniela Marin is a Contributing Writer for the Central Florida Future.

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