Most Lawrentians will use the Buchanan-Kiewit Wellness Center’s facilities during their time on campus. However, many spend their Lawrence careers unaware of the range of services the Wellness Center has to offer and do not use the resources available to their full potential. I believe that implementing a mandatory orientation program for new students who plan on using the Wellness Center would address these issues, and benefit the wellbeing of campus as a whole.
Take the weight room, for example. Many people incorporate weightlifting into their lifestyle during college, but not all of them learn how to lift weights properly, which puts them at risk of hurting themselves. The internet provides people with an absurd amount of possible exercises and workout routines, sometimes with step-by-step explanations and videos of exercises. While this information is helpful, weightlifting is not a “monkey-see, monkey-do” activity. Without proper instruction and feedback, students who are just learning to weightlift expose themselves to a greater likelihood of injury. The cardio equipment room offers the same risk for injury as well, as running or biking with poor form can also lead to injury.
Additionally, many students who use the Wellness Center’s facilities may not have a concrete plan to achieve their fitness goals. A person can walk into the Wellness Center with the goal of getting bigger, faster or stronger, but if they do not have the knowledge about how to do so, they will not see the results they are looking for. This makes them less likely to continue to exercise diligently into the future, as they will not get the results they are looking for.
The Wellness Center offers many resources to help students exercise safely and achieve their fitness goals, but they are not often utilized. Students can reach out to Director of Wellness and Recreation Erin Buenzli to get a tour of the Wellness Center. It also employs a Healthy Viking intern who serves as a personal trainer, but not many students are aware that personal training is a service the Wellness Center offers. Different classes are also offered, but they do not appeal to all students, or fit into every student’s busy schedule.
A mandatory orientation program for incoming students would ensure that the Wellness Center’s facilities are being used effectively. Student workers—who are already employed by the Wellness Center—could be trained to provide these orientations. The orientation could be as simple as a tour and a discussion of the resources in the Wellness Center.
Making sure that all students who use the Wellness Center know how to use its resources and equipment properly also ensures that the students who need them the most use them. It cannot be assumed that all incoming students who would know how to use the Wellness Center properly and to its full extent.
A program like this would not be unprecedented. High schools that have gyms and weight rooms require that students using them are taught how to do so properly. Additionally, many gyms and athletic clubs provide members with an orientation on their first visit.
This should not be misconstrued to say that students be required to participate in an extensive tour of all on-campus resources. The Wellness Center’s fitness equipment offers an inherent degree of risk in their usage that differentiates it from other campus resources. If unfamiliar with how to use free weights or a treadmill, they risk serious bodily injury, whereas if a student uses the Seeley G. Mudd Library, but is unaware that it offers online research guides, they are not too much worse for wear.
Due to the inherent risk of some of the Wellness Center’s resources, an extra level of caution should be taken in ensuring that students who use it know how to do so safely. A mandatory orientation would be a simple, effective way of ensuring they do.