UWL REC addresses student need by adding more equipment and fitness space


Image retrieved from uwlax.edu/recsports/.

Jenasea Hameister, General Assingment Reporter

On Thursday, Feb. 16, the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse Recreational Eagle Center (REC) Fitness Coordinator, Nick Berg described new updates at the REC in an interview with The Racquet Press. Updates began almost a year ago, which Berg said included new equipment and more widely spread out fitness zones.

In his role as UWL’s REC Fitness Coordinator, Berg said he oversees the programs and services related to fitness. This includes the REC’s group fitness program, personal training program, the fitness center, all student staff, equipment, and the repair of such equipment. He continued to say that he is the department’s equity liaison which means he has a larger role in equity and diversity efforts.

Berg has been with the REC since the fall of 2018.

The updates at the REC began after surveying participants of Women’s Night in the fitness center. “A lot of women go to the second floor,” Berg said, “It’s less intimidating and it’s less crowded, and they would go to Women’s Night because it was an opportunity for them to try the fitness center and/or come to the REC for the first time.”

Berg said that the responses from Women’s Night sparked a lot of interest in survey users on the second floor. In the spring of 2022, the REC did a passive survey of both the fitness center and the second floor using a QR Code. The survey asked its participants two questions:

  1. How could the space be improved; and
  2. Why do you enjoy or prefer this space?

Berg said that the results from the fitness center revealed exactly what they assumed. “[REC participants] want more benches [and] they want more dumbbell area space.”

After viewing the fitness center results, REC staff were especially interested in the second-floor responses. Berg said, “the second floor was really what we were investigating.” He continued, “We had 70% of second-floor respondents say that the reason they use the [second-floor] space is because it’s less intimidating and less crowded. Of all respondents, 70% were women.”

Berg said the top three responses from the second-floor survey participants indicated users wanted free weights, more floor space, and more privacy. Regarding these responses, Berg said that about halfway through the semester he worked with the REC’s equipment supplier to develop a blueprint.

“We put together some ideas and then got more feedback on those ideas,” said Berg.

He continued, “In the second-floor blueprint, the priority was to first replace all of the strength machines, so those are being updated, and second, to have a closer ratio of cardio to free weights. One-to-one would be perfect, and we pretty much have that right now.”

Berg said that having three functional training spaces upstairs is making the biggest difference in utilizing the space to its best ability. He said the second floor has cable machines in three different locations, free weights in two different locations, and more floor space since getting rid of a lot of cardio machines. All equipment is either brand new or newly added in 2018.

“Overcrowdedness is what we are finding to be the number one issue at the REC and intimidation goes hand in hand,” said Berg.

Spreading out the zones upstairs was an intentional way of mitigating the overcrowdedness that frequents REC spaces. “With the REC being overcrowded, that equates to intimidation,” said Berg. “So when you have all of the new equipment and high demand equipment in one space, that also creates just a cluster of people and that becomes intimidating upstairs.”

Berg said the busiest times at the REC are Monday through Wednesday from 3:00-8:00 p.m. He continued, “Weekends are really gonna be your best option, or mornings between 9:00 a.m. and 11:00 a.m.” The REC is open Monday through Friday from 6:00 a.m.-11:00 p.m., Saturday from 10:00 a.m.-10:00 p.m., and Sunday’s 11:00 a.m.-10:00 p.m.

The REC is trying to center student voices with the updates they are making. Berg said, “The voices we are trying to make sure [are heard] here are the ones that are experiencing more barriers [than typical REC users].” He continued, “We want the REC to be a place for everyone to feel comfortable.”

He said that the REC is currently updating its website to highlight pictures and be transparent.

Berg said that the funding for the new updates comes from student segregated fees and because of that, “[The REC values] student opinion so much that we are very careful about how we spend our money.” He added that the REC wants students to benefit directly from the updates being made since they contribute a portion of their non-allocable segregated fees towards the REC.

The 2022-2023 non-allocable segregated fee students will contribute towards the REC is $247.95. Berg said, “I would love it if people had a chance to use what they’re paying for and if we are not serving them, I would love a chance to talk to them or survey them.”

Berg said, “I think everybody at the REC, student and professional staff included, are fully aware that the REC can be an intimidating space.”

The REC is making a strong effort to “really make it a space where things like toxic diet culture, body shaming, all these things, can be addressed,” said Berg. “We may not be able to fix them, but we don’t want to perpetuate the problems in our society that we already know exist.”

The following information is directly provided by Nick Berg:

Second-floor updates: 


  • 8 treadmills (3 new)
  • 2 rowers (1 repurposed from fitness center)
  • 5 ellipticals ( 5 repurposed from fitness center)
  • 4 stair climbers (3 new)
  • 2 spin bikes (2 new)
  • 4 recumbent bikes
  • 5 manual treadmills

Cable machines all new:

  • Leg press
  • Leg extension
  • Leg curl
  • AB/AD
  • Glute kickback
  • Seated row
  • Chest press
  • Shoulder press
  • Lat pulldown

In two separate locations there are x2 all-new:

  • Dumbbells 2.5-30 pounds
  • Kettlebells 5-45 pounds
  • Medicine balls 6-25 pounds
  • Adjustable cable machine with attachments
  • 2 adjustable benches

In the fitness center:

  • 9 new adjustable benches
  • 2 new adjustable cable machines with attachments
  • New dumbbell area with weights from 5-45 pounds

Free equipment orientation:

This format is designed to provide a basic understanding of exercise techniques and boost overall confidence. Within the inquiry, individuals can select either the Fitness Center or second-floor equipment for this 30-minute service. In addition, the orientation can be further customized to focus on free weights, cable strength machines, or both. This free service is a great way to get started on the right path and meet our friendly and passionate REC staff. You can even bring a friend to the orientation

Inquire here for free equipment orientation.