At the epicenter of activity

For students all across the nation, one of the most difficult aspects of college life is finding some balance in daily activities.

For students all across the nation, one of the most difficult aspects of college life is finding some balance in daily activities.

At Portland State, perhaps more than most universities, students are forced to strike that balance between the demands of employment, the pressures of academics, tending to family obligations, spending time with friends and even volunteer work.

Despite the surmounting stress and time constraints all these obligations typically cause, plenty of students have found time to exercise and be active. Activities, intensity and frequency may vary, but among students who make time to exercise, though, all students should recognize the importance of being active.

“Exercise and recreation is one piece of being balanced,” said Alex Accetta, director of Portland State Campus Recreation.

Accetta and the rest of the Campus Recreation department are constantly making adjustments and improvements to their program format and scheduling to accommodate students’ busy schedules.

“Our job is to provide a place for activities and other recreation that people can do on their own schedules,” Accetta said.

With Portland State being a large urban university home to nearly 25,000 students, the conditions on campus are sometimes cramped, and the Stott Center is no exception. While many universities have separate facilities for varsity sports teams, physical education and campus recreation, the Stott Center is home to all three departments, as well as several classrooms.

The crowdedness of the facility often leads to students looking elsewhere for their exercise.

“It has been frustrating at times. Sometimes you come down here to work out or play in the gym, and there is a practice going on, or the weight room is locked,” said freshman Vin Murdock.

Murdock’s feelings were concurrent with those of several other students using the Stott Center facilities over the past few days. Sophomore Casey Underhill was on her way to use the Stott’s circuit room.

“I think it is getting better here,” Underhill said. “There are frustrating aspects, the locker room for instance, but overall I think the options they have are good, and much cheaper and more convenient for me than a gym membership would be.”

While waiting for the new six-story rec center to be constructed, which is expected to be finished in January 2010, the Campus Recreation department said they committed to providing the diverse student body with a wide range of activities to select from.

“We program to the student body as well as to the facilities,” Accetta said. “We recognize that here we may not have as many people interested in participating in team sports as other schools, so we rely on a different model to hopefully meet more students’ needs.”

While Accetta does not begrudge students for using other facilities, like a local fitness club, to work out, he encourages students to use the existing facilities and programs to make connections with other students.

“We want to be able to have a community here, and have students feel connected with the university,” Accetta said.

Here are some of the available resources available through the Campus Recreation Department:

Aquatic center:

The Stott Center houses a junior Olympic-size pool with daily opportunities for recreational use or lap swim. A student pass for locker room and aquatic services is $24 per term. The pool also offers a weekly family swim, where family members can swim for free.

Racquetball / tennis / squash:

Each of these sports can provide a fun, fast-paced workout. The racquetball and squash courts are sparsely used, and the tennis courts, on the Stott Center rooftop, are used mainly by the Portland State tennis teams. Courts are lit and surrounded by a covered track that measures an eighth of a mile.

Climbing center:

One of the Stott Center’s most extreme features is the climbing center. The center is part of the outdoor program and is available to students every weekday. Additionally, the center rents out gear for a student rate of $5 per day.

Circuit room / weight room:

Offering a more traditional form of working out, both these rooms are available for student use in the morning, midday and evening. The weight room has plenty of free weights, while the circuit room’s equipment includes a varied assortment of exercise bicycles, Stairmasters, treadmills, among other cardio equipment.

Group X:

Group X offers students and faculty workout classes led by certified instructors. Those interested can attend their first session for free, and then pay a fee for every subsequent session.

Outdoor program:

In operation for over forty years, the outdoor program won the David J. Wallace Program of Excellence in 2007. The outdoor program features a climbing center, an equipment rental center for students needing outdoor gear such as kayaks, wetsuits and tents, and provides students with an opportunity to explore Oregon through adventurous expeditions.