Graduate students can now work out at the LA Fitness on Wilshire Boulevard for free.
Some graduate students were concerned they would not have a place to exercise when the university announced in 2015 it would replace their gym, the Kinross Recreation Center, with the Geffen Academy. The university collaborated with LA Fitness to give students a free fitness pass while the new gym is being built.
Students must enroll at UCLA Recreation to receive their LA Fitness passes. Those who enrolled in December could access their memberships starting Monday, and those who enroll during week one will gain access starting Jan. 17. The passes can be picked up at the front desk of the John Wooden Center. After week one, UCLA Recreation will provide a voucher that students must take directly to LA Fitness to receive membership cards.
Initially, UCLA Recreation said the LA Fitness passes would only be available to students who visited the center at least eight times per month in the last six months. However, administrators decided that students do not have to go to the gym a certain amount of times to obtain passes, said Michael Skiles, the Graduate Students Association president.
Skiles added LA Fitness seems to have better quality equipment than the old KREC did.
“It is only a two-minute walk from the current KREC, so I would say it’s a good interim solution,” Skiles said.
The new KREC is under construction at the corner of Veteran and Kinross Avenues and is projected to open by summer 2017. The relocation will cost $5 million in university funds, not including the cost for the LA Fitness passes.
In 2015, UCLA decided to replace the old KREC on Kinross Avenue with the Geffen Academy, a secondary school for children of faculty and staff, and students from the Los Angeles area. The Geffen Academy is funded by a $100 million donation from David Geffen.
Students complained that the university did not consider graduate students in the decision and Skiles organized a protest committee of more than 70 students called Save KREC Task Force to protest the demolishment of KREC in June 2016.
The task force warned they would publicly protest both administration and David Geffen unless administration provided a clear timeline for a new and better gym, Skiles said. Officials promised in early July to have a new gym ready by January 2017.
“You can see why (the administration) would want to go through great lengths to avoid our protesting David Geffen personally, because he has been donating to UCLA for different projects throughout the years,” Skiles said.
However, because of delays, Skiles said the committee would resume its plans to protest unless officials gave students LA Fitness passes for as long as they lacked an official gym.
Though administration said numerous times that LA Fitness passes would be out of the question because they were too expensive, they eventually agreed to provide them, Skiles said. Officials announced the passes Nov. 30.
Skiles said graduate students don’t want to protest Geffen since he is a major university donor, but it was a last resort.
“At the end of the day, we need to make sure students are made better, not worse off, as a result of these donations,” Skiles said.
Some graduate students said they will welcome the passes.
Ian Stringham, a law student, said he might use the passes because he lives close to LA Fitness. Stringham added he has only been to the Wooden Center, which often gets crowded.
Eric Schattl, a public policy graduate student, said the change will not really affect him because he is a commuter student.
“The new options are better than nothing,” Schattl said. “It’s less important because I still can commute, just to a different place.”
Lily Sofiani, a public policy graduate student, said she thinks graduate students care more about the proximity of the gym rather than how nice the facilities are.
“I think it’s better because I prefer to work out in LA Fitness,” Sofiani said. “KREC is too far for me.”
Contributing reports by Raevyn Walker, Daily Bruin contributor.