September 20, 2011 at 12:21 pm

Navigating the jungle gym

photo credit: John Pontarelli

Fortunately and unfortunately for Marquette students, there is food virtually everywhere on campus. Luckily, there are two (yes, two), recreational facilities within walking distance of one another. So don’t worry if you can’t resist a California burger from Sobelman’s. Get yourself to the Helfaer Rec Center on 525 N. 16th St., or the Rec Plex on 915 W. Wisconsin Ave., located in Straz Hall.

But which one should you go to?

If distance is not a factor, here are some distinctions: The Rec Plex has a general fitness center, but there are also three other rooms for lifting. The second floor has a room with punching bags and kickboxing mats near the racquetball courts. Average attendance is 500-800 persons per day, according to John Sweeney, director of recreational sports.

At the Rec Center, however, free weights, weight machines, cardio equipment and mats are in one room with high ceilings. It also has two cardio rooms on the lower level for those who prefer to exercise in privacy. The lower level has a spinning room next to the pro shop, tennis and racquetball courts. Average attendance is between 1500-2000 persons per day.

OK, so you make it to the facility of your choice. But then question becomes, ‘which machine do I get on first?’

It may be easy to settle for 20 minutes on the elliptical, but there is so much more to explore! Both facilities are stocked with Woodway treadmills that display your progress on a digital track. And thanks to tuition dollars, the center now has official spinning bikes. The bikes let you build your workout while a digital instructor prompts position changes and elevation increases. Added bonus: The bikes have a fan attached to the monitor.

If you are looking for a full-body work out, the Stairmaster is a great machine to utilize if you want to tone up your hamstrings and calf muscles.

But what if you prefer to lift weights? Lucky for you, both facilities are stocked with every dumbbell and medicine ball you need. With free weights, you have the ability to control your work out.

One exercise machine you must try is the cable row machine. Place your feet on the platform, firmly grasp the handle and with a straight back, pull the handle toward your body in a smooth, rowing motion. This exercise not only engages your quadriceps, hamstrings and calves, but tones your back muscles while strengthening your core and shoulders. Talk about a total body workout!

photo credit: John Pontarelli

photo credit: John Pontarelli

The multi-purpose room is conveniently located in both facilities, providing plenty of space for basketball games, volleyball, soccer and badminton. Club practices and indoor intramural games are also played in the MPR, so feel free to check out a practice if the coach doesn’t mind.

The HD flat-screen televisions in both the fitness center and weight room facilities at the Rec Plex and Rec Center provide all of the channels that gym-goers enjoy, (they’re a great distraction from that last mile). If you’re not sure what work out is best for your body, schedule an appointment with one of the recreational sports personal trainers.

FAQ at the Rec

  Q: Do I have to pay for a locker?

A: Yes and no; a semester locker is $12 for students, or you can rent a daily locker (for free).

Q: How much are towels?

A: $2 for daily users, and $16 for Towel Service (per semester).

Q: Can my friend get in without an ID?

A: No one without a valid MUID can enter either facility; you may sign a guest in (two hours in advance) and pay a $3 fee upon entry.

Q: Are tennis and racquetball courts free?

A: Tennis court reservations are $5 for students, racquetball courts are free – equipment is free and can be checked out in the service area at the Rec Center/main office at the Plex.

Q: Do I have to pay to check out equipment?

A: No, but you must have a valid MUID to rent equipment.

Q: Are there any more basketballs to check out?

A: If you don’t see any, nine times out of ten, one basketball (or two) is lonely on the MPR floor … take a look!

Q: Do I have to sign up for a machine (treadmill, elliptical, etc)?

A: Please do. If you aren’t signed up and someone else wants to use the machine (and has signed up), you get the boot.

Q: What’s the code to the locker room?

A: Ask whoever is working.