Friday, December 14

Kristina Iliopoulos: Free recreational classes would allow students to invest in their health

(Daily Bruin file photo)

(Daily Bruin file photo)

Many students try to fit physical activities into their schedules, but the gyms on campus usually start clearing out by the second or third week of the quarter.

What better way to work up the motivation to stay active than recreational classes? UCLA Recreation is responsible for offering these classes to students – courses range from swimming to tennis to yoga and Zumba. But there’s one problem: Taking classes a couple times a week comes at a price higher than 24/7 gym access.

A majority of recreational classes the John Wooden Center offers require a quarterly $25 fitness pass. However, some of the more popular recreational classes, such as yoga, cost between $35 to $55 per quarter per class – a hefty amount for a broke college student, to say the least.

UCLA should follow in the footsteps of other schools such as UC Berkeley and make recreational classes free for students. Doing so would provide opportunities for students to explore physical practices and make important investments in their health, and UCLA Recreation can recoup any lost revenue with a nominal increase in the Wooden Center’s general fee.

Many students were surprised recreational classes weren’t free to begin with. Skylar Leonard, a third-year psychobiology student, was disappointed when she found out classes aren’t free. “I don’t like spending money. At least give me an [academic] unit or two out of it,” Leonard said.

The revenue currently generated from recreational classes doesn’t pay for other aspects of the gym, according to UCLA Recreation. Instead, it pays for qualified instructors and covers other costs of hosting the individual classes, like equipment and space. However, UCLA Recreation does a good job of keeping costs relatively low by sharing equipment with other revenue-generating programs, so the main cost is the instructors’ fees.

These fees stand in stark contrast to that of other schools such as UC Berkeley, which offers all of its recreational classes at no additional cost to students and offsets the cost of the classes through slightly higher student fees. And Berkeley has a comparable number of students – if it can handle the volume of students enrolling in free classes, so can UCLA.

According to UCLA Recreation, undergraduates currently pay less than $6 per month for unlimited access to Wooden.

Increasing the overall quarterly fee would generate more revenue for recreational classes than students individually enrolling in classes, as over 30,000 undergraduate students would be contributing a small amount of money.

Even increasing the fee by $2, to $8 per month, would generate an extra $60,000 per month just for the purpose of recreation classes. Yoga, the most expensive class, is currently generating under $10,000.

Furthermore, an $8 fee still benefits the student body at large. It’s significantly cheaper than the average monthly cost of a gym membership – $26 per month at the nearest LA Fitness.

If a class becomes popular enough, enrollment can have a cap. That may not be necessary, though – UCLA would be able to open more classes and hire more instructors with the increased revenue from the higher gym fee.

More available classes means students are more likely to be able to find a class that fits their schedule and interests. They can try a class out for a couple weeks, and if they decide they don’t like it they can stop or try another one out with no direct loss of money. This system would also benefit the students that enjoy and stick with a class, because they would overall be paying less per quarter.

It’s true that even now, the current fees for recreation classes are significantly cheaper on campus than they would be if taken through a non-UCLA affiliated program. However, as a college, UCLA should be inviting students to explore their interests in a convenient, affordable way. Paying $55 to try out yoga and discover it’s not something you can really get into – or even do – isn’t appealing. Students already pay a fee which includes gym access, whether they use it or not, and nominally increasing that fee to offer optional recreational classes – open to the entire student body – for free shouldn’t cause too much of an uproar.

Free recreational classes should be a keystone of any college campus. Providing students with the accessible opportunities to explore things they normally wouldn’t have the means to is invaluable.

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Kristina Iliopoulos was a columnist from 2015-2017.

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