ARCC opens new campus health and wellness center

Anoka-Ramsey Community College unveiled its newest facility, a 36,044 square-foot health and wellness center, at a grand opening ceremony March 26.

And the center, which opened in January, is available not only to the students and staff at the college, but to the community as well.

Autumn Sisson, Anoka-Ramsey Community College student, works out in the new fitness center.
Autumn Sisson, Anoka-Ramsey Community College student, works out in the new fitness center.

On the ground floor, the facility features:

• Three full-sized basketball courts; the college’s baseball team was using the new fieldhouse, which contains two of the courts for indoor training, at the time of the grand opening March 26.

• Three full-sized volleyball courts in the fieldhouse.

• A fitness center of 5,000 square feet, which is triple the size of the previous fitness area. The new center, which has three times the equipment, includes ellipticals, treadmills, dumbbells, barbells, free weights, exercise bikes, stability balls and pulley equipment as well as televisions and sound systems.

• Fitness studio with a wood floor that is available for yoga, karate, dance and other fitness classes.

• Six locker rooms, three for men and three women.

On the second floor above the new fieldhouse is a three-lane suspended walking track with rubberized sports floor, on which 10.5 laps equal a mile.

The upper floor also has a mezzanine fitness area adjacent to the walking track and overlooking the courts, plus classrooms and meeting rooms featuring SMART technology and a conference room.

The project is an expansion of the college’s original gymnasium and fitness center, which have been renovated as part of the construction work.

According to Roger Freeman, college physical plant director, two-thirds of the project is new construction and one-third renovation.

The original gymnasium has a new floor and a new coat of paint, with new bleachers to be installed this summer, Freeman said.

“The new center is the envy of people in the northern suburbs and all over the Twin Cities,” he said.

The majority of the $9.8 million project cost, some $6 million, is coming from a 20-year revenue bond which is being paid for by a special student fee of $4.25 per credit over the life of the bond, Freeman said.

Students have been very much involved and supportive of the project from the beginning, for example there were student members of the design committee, he said.

Another $600,000 was been allocated to the project by the Minnesota Colleges and Universities System (MnSCU) from a heating and air conditioning project at the college, which came in under budget, Freeman said.

Other funding is coming from the college budget as well as user fees charged by the college for the health and fitness center, for example the walking track by members of the public.

“This is a beautiful facility,” said Dr. Jessica Stumpf, interim president of Anoka-Ramsey Community College and Anoka Technical College.

“We are very proud of the project because the design is a result of a collaborative effort with students’ health to the forefront.”

“I’m also extremely proud of our student body because they have found ways to create fitness and wellness opportunities for all types of students and alumni as well as the community that they are part of.”

Construction on the project began in September 2011, but work on the project began long before that.

A lot of the initial work was done by former college president Pat Johns and former vice president Mike Seymour, according to Stumpf.

It was Seymour’s vision that got the project rolling, Freeman said.

Besides Stumpf, taking part in the grand opening were Luanne Kane, dean of business, social science, wellness and world language; Brett Anderson, MnSCU trustee; Freeman; Erica Parker, student athlete; and Lisa Boxwell, health and wellness center coordinator.

According to Kane, college health classes were previously held in dark and dirty classrooms underneath the library.

“The new classrooms with their computer facilities are phenomenal for instruction,” Kane said.

The center will contribute to the wellness of all students, she said.

Anderson, a registered nurse by profession, described the new facility as a “jewel of a center” with a very effective learning environment.

He congratulated students for their involvement in all phases of the project. “Without your support, funding would not have been possible,” Anderson said.

The new facility means a lot to the students at the college, according to Parker.

“There are a lot more opportunities for the sports teams and everyone appreciates the new weight room.” Parker said.

Not only does the health and wellness center bring new opportunities for the students, but the community as well, Boxwell said.

“I’m thrilled to be part of it,” said Boxwell, who has been with the college for 18 years.

Peter Bodley is at [email protected]