Editor's note: This story was originally published on April 7, 2013.
The Recreation and Wellness Center, along with President John C. Hitt, hosted a block party to celebrate the success and grand opening of the RWC @ Knights Plaza, this past Friday.
The 8,700-square-foot space offers a wide variety of cardio equipment, a weights area and a mind and body studio.
Hitt said he was excited to offer students who live at the north end of campus more opportunities to become healthier in both body and mind, especially with the past success of the full-size Recreation and Wellness Center.
From the 2010-11 academic year to 2011-12, Recreation and Wellness Center use has increased by 26 percent, and just recently hit one million visitors since its opening.
RWC Director Jim Wilkening, who has worked with the university for 20 years, said he believes the new location is a great place to become a successful Knight. He added that physical fitness leads to higher GPAs and a greater likelihood of graduation.
Through a very careful and strategic process, administration aimed to create a more inviting environment for students. The quaint size, soft colors and tubular design are meant to offer a less intimidating atmosphere.
Gabriel Hernandez, a freshman biomedical sciences major, liked the "cute" layout and design.
"It's intimate," he said.
Hernandez mostly uses the new gym between classes because of the gym's proximity to his classrooms.
Senior Kayla O'Brien MC'd the ribbon-cutting event. A Member Services employee and radio and television major, O'Brien works at the new location twice per week. She said the relaxed space creates a less threatening environment, especially for girls who may be hesitant to lift weights at the full size gym.
Current Student Government Association President Cortez Whatley said there's nothing more rewarding than providing a service for students to utilize and enjoy. And with 15,000 visits since its soft opening in January, the RWC @ Knights Plaza is getting plenty of use by students.
Whatley, who doesn't come across free time often, even tested out one of the treadmills dressed in a full suit and tie.
"It's a great feeling," he said regarding how it felt to see such a huge project come to fruition.
He added that the efforts of former SGA President Matt McCann also contributed to the grand opening of RWC @ Knights Plaza.
Vice President Dr. Maribeth Ehasz, leader of Student Development and Wellness Services, was proud to add a 13th state-of-the-art fitness structure to the UCF campus.
She cited the RWC @ Knights Plaza's mission: "To foster lifestyle choices and wellness through efficient services, comprehensible programs and high quality facilities."
Above all, students seem to love the convenience of the new location.
"I like it a lot; it's a lot more convenient," said Emily Malachowski, a freshman accounting major, after hopping off one of the machines.
Paris Wunn, an RWC @ Knights Plaza employee and sports and exercise science major, has seen an overall positive reaction from students.
"They love it," she said. Students especially appreciate the facilities extensive hours of operation, Wunn said. On Mondays and Wednesdays, the gym is open 24 hours.
Party attenders also had the chance to sweat it out with a "hip hoppin'" yoga session.
Interdisciplinary studies major Stefanie Harmon teaches vinyasa yoga every day, and said she's very happy about the new facility.
"I love it," she said. She added she can definitely see people seeking a mind and body workout, instead of just a physical one.
The block party also featured giveaways from vendors such as Subway, Barnes and Noble, Dominoes, Knight Aide and Jimmy Johns.
Administration and staff said they hope to see even more students visit the RWC @ Knights Plaza.
Hitt ended his address, "Let's give it a good workout and go Knights!"