K-State Parents and Family Association (PFA) Intern Annie Jewell ’18 met with Steve Martini, Director of the Chester E. Peters Student Recreation Center to learn about the services and programs the rec has to offer to students, faculty and alumni. She also wanted to learn more about their role and the vision for overall student wellness.
Annie: Thanks for your time today, Steve. Tell me more about the history of the Chester E. Peters Recreation Complex and your leadership since starting at K-State.
Steve: Well, I’ve been here since 1980, and it’s kinda become my way of life. When I got here, the original building was just being finished. Prior to the current location, we were located in Ahearn Fieldhouse with only two professionals working for the rec. The students then primarily utilized intramurals as a source of exercise before the cultural switch to individualized sports. Now students can watch a TV show or read a book while working out which wasn’t too common back then. K-State Athletics had control of the courts during basketball season until late in the evening, meaning intramural basketball teams would be playing until 2 AM! As a result, students passed a referendum to pay for more space and equipment. That building was opened in the fall of 1980.
Annie: Since 1980, how much has the recreation complex grown?
Steve: The first building was about a third of the size it is now. Since then, exercise has become more popular. Not in the sense that its a fad, but people are more aware of their bodies and how to take care of them. The latest renovation, with another student referendum, was opened in 2012 at 265,000 square feet. We were able to add more cardio area, more equipment, more space for fitness classes and personal training.
Annie: How many people utilize the rec?
Steve: We have a card swiping system for students so it’s fairly easy to tabulate who uses it day in and day out. Students have access through their privilege fee while faculty and staff can purchase a membership just like they would any other gym in town at a lower cost to them. Additionally, members of the K-State Alumni Association have the opportunity to purchase a membership as well. We’ve done studies to look at student usage and last year we had 79 percent of students use the facility at least once. That could be working out, watching a game, attending a personal training session, etc. That doesn’t even count the games located outside. We’re proud of this participation.
Annie: Can students bring their parents if they come to visit?
Steve: Oh yes, if parents come up to Manhattan and they want to take a tour, or use the facility we’d let them do that. Family day in the fall brings in a lot of guests as well as just normal junior days, senior days and personal visits. We want parents to make this their last stop after they see campus since either they or the students will be paying each semester’s privilege fee to use it. This part of campus, the north west side, is really developing and we want people to come check it out.
Annie: You mention this part of campus developing. Could you touch on any future plans for the rec?
Steve: Main campus doesn’t have too much space to add to, however out here, alongside the football and basketball complexes and Jardine Apartments, we have potential to grow. We’re looking at the footprint of rec services and the future of health and wellness on campus. It’s becoming a driving force nationwide. As a parent, with your children going away to school, you want them to get a good education, but you also want them to be taken care of and have things to do that isn’t all just social life or Aggieville. All the elements of student life are elements of wellness and looking at a potential space to take care of all these needs, is what we are looking into and seeing where we could go. This includes counseling services, financial planning, a pool, a medical facility, etc. We’re just looking at what could be something really great for students. We’re not looking at something built off student dollars, but more so help from donors. Tuition costs keep hiking up, students are paying off the rec and the student union through fees so we understand that more student dollars aren’t an option and we don’t necessarily want them to be.
Annie: That’s exciting. I can’t wait to follow along with those plans and see where that goes. I’m sure future generations will benefit from a wellness center like you described. Anyways, I’m curious about the opportunities you have for students here. Do you hire students part-time? Is it a paid position?
Steve: We have many opportunities for students. Of all the privilege fee dollars the rec receives about 60 percent of that goes back to student wages. We have nine full time professionals and maintenance staff, but all the rest of the employees are students. We employ about 350 students per year. They’re tough positions to get, because many people are interested in it, but it’s there for them. We continually hire during the course of the year and want all ages to apply.
Annie: During my visits to the rec, I’ve seen students and faculty/staff working with personal trainers. Tell me more about the personal trainers at the rec.
Steve: It’s a program directed by Megan Maransani. The students have to go through the required certified courses, then are able to work with clients to prescribe exercise. About 50 percent of those clients are students and half are faculty and staff. Clients are able to buy certain packages and determine how many times they want to meet with a personal trainer. These services are for those that need guidance, or if they want to learn weight training, race training, etc. It’s really a great low-cost program for K-Staters.
Annie: I’ve heard talk about a wellness initiative on campus? Can you tell me what that means?
Steve: Yeah, so we have a partnership with Counseling Services, Lafene Health Center, Powercat Financial Planning, K-State Libraries, Housing and Dining, Academic Assistance Center, and LGBT Resource Center to make the Wildcat Wellness Coalition. This isn’t something to tell other groups what to do, but rather collaborate to emphasize the importance of wellness. Representatives have come together to plan a 5K, a wellness week, farmers market, and more. They want to continue to grow as the years go on.
Annie: I can tell you enjoy what you do as director here. Students definitely benefit from your leadership and the rec has grown into such a great place for students to train, exercise, play, hang out and learn. Thank you for all you do!
K-State Recreational Services strives to educate and is committed to the development, promotion and management of quality recreation facilities, services and programs for the Kansas State community.
The Chester E. Peters Recreation Complex is located on Olympic Drive, just east of the K-State football stadium near the intersection of Kimball and Denison Avenues.
The rec hours are M-Th 5:30 AM-midnight, F 5:30 AM-11 PM, Sat 9 AM-10 PM, Sun noon-midnight.
To learn more about recreational services, visit the Chester E. Peters Recreation Complex.