The University of the Virgin Islands St. Thomas campus was abuzz Friday as the university finally opened to the public its new, $2.2 million state-of-the-art Wellness Center.
The Wellness Center is a dance, aerobic and weight training facility that makes going to the gym a little easier for students and the community. Right next to UVI’s Sports and Fitness Center, its 6,250 square feet has specialized zones for training, cardiovascular endurance and fat-burning.
Plans for the center, which was funded by the Department of the Interior, UVI Foundation grants and UVI’s own funds, were drawn up four years ago under the direction of Peter Sauer, UVI’s athletic director. Sauer, along with his team, travelled to Florida to research ideal wellness center designs and came back with a vision for UVI’s own wellness facility.
The building is designed for easy expansion. Charles Martin of the UVI Physical Plant made sure that the building was structurally designed so that a second floor can be added without disrupting first-floor operations. The cost of a second story addition is estimated to be one-third of the original building.
The Wellness Center houses $100,000 worth of state-of-the-art equipment, including pulse-metered Classic Series and Life Fitness treadmills and elliptical machines. Le Monde spin bikes for indoor group cycling and two multi-exercise jumbo gyms are also available. The facility also has the only hip machine on the island, specially designed for persons with hip injuries.
The facility boasts a 2,800-square-foot dance studio, with fully mirrored walls and sprung wood floors that minimize impact. The largest classroom of its kind in the territory, it can hold up to 50 people at one time. This space will be the venue for Pilates, yoga and zumba classes, which are available to members for an extra fee.
The Wellness Center is manned by certified fitness instructors, as well as UVI student employees with nursing or athletic backgrounds. Under veteran fitness instructor Amy Gurlea, the students went through training in anatomy, physiology, use of equipment and balancing programs for the members of the facility.
While membership priority is given to UVI students and employees, other residents are welcome to use the facility, although at higher membership rates.
Assistatn Secretary of the Interior for Insular Areas Anthony Babauta, who was particularly involved in getting the ball rolling for the construction of the facility, is optimistic about the role of the UVI Wellness Center in the greater VI community.
“It’s carrying out a vision that was thought about by its leaders years ago,” said Babauta. “And the result of this vision would be a healthier community and a student population that is ready to excel at learning.”
Also present at the opening ceremony were Gov. John Dejongh Jr.; Senate President Louis Patrick Hill; Delegate to Congress Donna Christensen; as well as former UVI presidents Laverne Ragster and Orville Kean.