Rec Center officials expect rise in patrons over summer

BY JOE HITCHON | JUNE 20, 2012 6:30 AM

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With the Sun at its hottest on the first day of summer, students and locals continue to flock to the Campus Recreation and Wellness Center to beat the heat.

"I exercise year-round here at the Wellness Center" said Shannon Sole, a recent University of Iowa graduate. "Even though it's hot out, coming here to exercise is a nice break from studying and its nice and cool inside. I just have to be sure to drink more water and stay hydrated throughout the day."

Kim Jamriska, the facility coordinator at the Campus Recreation and Wellness Center, said the Rec Center sees anywhere between 2,000 to 3,000 people each day during the summer.

"Members like to come and workout when it's hot outside," she said. "We especially see a lot of families and even camps that come to use the indoor facilities."

And the Rec Center has seen increased attendance over the past year. Officials saw a recorded 70,000 visits in May 2011. The number of visits in May 2012 increased to roughly 79,000.

However, despite many UI students leaving for summer, officials say attendance numbers at the Rec Center are consistent with what they saw last summer.

The Rec Center saw more than 62,000 visitors in June 2011, and more than 52,000 in July 2011.

And officials they expect these numbers to continue to rise.

For UI Teaching Assistant Ben Morton the weather has not had much of an effect on his exercise activities.

"I prefer exercising outside, plus the heat helps you sweat more, I think that's what people are looking for," he said.

And several local health experts say it's important to stay hydrated when exercising outside.

Jason Bradley, a nutritionist at the Washington Street Wellness Center, said while he does not completely discourage his patients from exercising outside on a hot day, he does emphasize the need to exercise responsibly.

"If you only exercise outside, it's best to treat a hot, hot day kind of like a snow day and just stay in and ride it out," he said.

Bradley said exercising in a climate-controlled environment will allow one to exercise longer and burn more calories.

"Exercising in extreme heat and humidity is just going to dehydrate you faster."

Johnson County director of Public Health Doug Beardsley reiterated Bradley's advice, noting health dangers can be avoided if people stay hydrated.

UI student Thomas Hoak, who relies on a bicycle to get around, said the only effect of the heat has been riding a little more slowly.

"I bike everywhere anyway but I come here to lift weights," he said. "The only change is I'm not biking nearly as fast."

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