GW officially introduced its new Health and Wellness Center to the student community Wednesday with a non-traditional cutting of a basketball net in place of the usual ribbon, and an offer of a free membership for President George W. Bush.
The opening drew praise from eight-time Mr. Olympia Lee Haney, who called the facility “the finest facility I have ever seen.”
“The creation of the Health and Wellness Center is a statement made by The George Washington University to the nation,” said Haney, chairman of the President’s Council of Physical Fitness. “It shows that GW is committed to the health of both the body and mind of its students.”
University President Stephen Joel Trachtenberg presented Haney and with a one-year membership to the facility, and announced the offering for Bush.
University Marshal Jill Kasle opened the ceremony, and the Rev. Kirtley Yearwood of St. Mary’s Episcopal Church gave blessed the new facility, located on the corner of 23rd and G streets.
“This is a great addition to the Foggy Bottom area,” Yearwood said. In his remarks Trachtenberg called the opening a wonderful occasion. After being diagnosed with adult-onset diabetes, he said he understood how important diet and exercise is to people of all ages.
Trachtenberg said the University is dedicated to education, adding that the addition of the Wellness Center will help “create sound bodies and minds for students, faculty and staff.”
Senior gymnast Devon McCulla praised the benefits of the 183,000 square foot facility and its mission to involve more students in fitness programs. On behalf of the students, she thanked GW and those involved in creating the Health and Wellness Center.
Vice President for Student and Academic Support Services Robert Chernak said he conceived the idea of the building in 1988 with the help and support of Trachtenberg, Senior Associate Athletic Director Mary Joe Warner and trustees.
“This facility is long overdue, and it will give students an opportunity to live the lifestyle they want to while at GW,” Chernak said.
Chernak said his only disappointment is that the pool will not be ready until December, because leakage problems were discovered when the pool was filled twice.
Chernak said he hopes to resolve zoning issues so that alumni and community residents will be able to use the facilities, which he said D.C. law currently bars them from using.
“Do you delay the start of construction on the building, or get it open for the students who are the primary concern and deal with the other issues later?” Chernak said in an interview.
The new facility houses two gymnasia with two basketball courts each. Students can play volleyball and badminton on new courts, in addition to indoor soccer and hockey. Warm-up and cool-down areas border the gyms.
A three-lane jogging track is located above one basketball court at the perimeter of one gymnasium. The three-lane lap pool will support aqua aerobics. There are four racquetball courts and six squash courts, all with viewing areas. The fitness area has free weights, weight machines, wellness and cardiovascular fitness areas complete with sound and video systems.
A large wooden-paneled room will be used for aerobics, dance and martial arts. Other features include locker rooms, family locker rooms, pro shop, equipment issue, lobby, juice bar, lounge, parking and administrative areas.