Racquetball, Anyone? New Campus Complex Expands Fitness Options

Posted: August 31, 2009 at 1:03 am, Last Updated: August 27, 2009 at 3:25 pm

By Dave Andrews

The new RAC promises

The new RAC provides multiple facilities for fitness. Creative Services photo

One observation students are sure to make this fall is that Mason makes it easy to stay active. Not many other universities boast four, yes, four fitness facilities on one campus.

Joining the Aquatic and Fitness Center, Skyline Fitness and the Field House on the Fairfax Campus, the new RAC (Recreation and Athletic Complex) opens its doors on Sept. 2.

The RAC grew out of the old PE Building, which was gutted, remodeled and then doubled in size. Locker rooms and shower facilities were updated. The RAC includes a two-story fitness area, two new racquetball courts, two squash courts and office space. The additional gymnasium will be used as a competition venue for wrestling and volleyball.

The RAC also includes more than 100 new cardio machines and 50 weight lifting machines.

Having four fitness facilities may sound excessive. But considering the total enrollment on the Fairfax Campus is nearly 24,000 students, and the faculty and staff members add another 5,000 potential users, Mason officials determined through focus groups and surveys that the entire university would benefit from the added recreational space.

A view from the interior of the new RAC.

A view from the interior of the new RAC. Creative Services photo

“Because the university has expanded greatly in recent years, these types of facilities are in huge demand,” says Mickey McDade, head of facilities for Intercollegiate Athletics. “As Mason continued to grow, we identified the PE Building near the top of our development list in order to expand our recreation offerings to students.”

In addition to intercollegiate sports, the RAC caters to the intramural and club sports. The two floors of renovated office space also house the School of Recreation, Health and Tourism and the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC).

“The students have been very vocal that they wanted that kind of multipurpose space,” says Rose Pascarell, associate vice president of University Life. “It’s not just a first-class venue for intercollegiate and intramural sports, but it also offers countless opportunities for collaboration between programs within University Life.”

The RAC’s fitness areas will be free to anyone with a Mason ID during the month of September. Following the first month of operation, the facility will remain free to all students, though faculty and staff members must apply for campus gym memberships valid at all campus fitness facilities.

“With our ever-increasing number of students living on campus, this adds another great space in which they can meet up and have fun,” says Pascarell. “We know that our students are very excited about all of the social opportunities the RAC offers.”

The RAC will immediately flex its muscles as it opens its doors during Welcome Week. Many activities are scheduled to take place inside the RAC, giving everyone the chance to have fun while they familiarize themselves with the new space.

All are invited to join in celebrating the RAC’s grand opening beginning at 11 a.m. on Sept. 2, outside the building’s main entrance. President Alan Merten and other Mason officials will speak, and special guests — the Washington Nationals mascots Abe, George, Teddy and Tom ― will be on hand to assist in the ribbon cutting.

Cake and refreshments will follow the ceremony, after which the real festivities begin inside the new gymnasium with obstacle courses, gladiator jousting, dunk tanks, prize giveaways and many other activities free to students.

Write to mediarel at gazette@gmu.edu