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Paying the price for exercise

Fitness classes return to the fee-based policy of three years ago,  providing additional funds for newer equipment and more classes. (Photo courtesy of TCNJ Fitness Center)
Fitness classes return to the fee-based policy of three years ago, providing additional funds for newer equipment and more classes. (Photo courtesy of TCNJ Fitness Center)

If students and faculty want to get fit with either the Zumba, Yoga, Pump Up the Pulse or Kickboxing classes the Fitness Center offers in the Recreational Center, there is a price they will now have to pay. 

Popular among many students, the Fitness Center classes allows students to exercise in a fun, welcoming environment with their friends while being taught by certified student instructors — these classes, however, have undergone recent changes. 

Instead of classes being free for faculty and students, there is now a semester membership fee: $20 per student and $50 for faculty. The Fitness Center is re-implementing the membership fee that was revoked three years ago.

“The fee has been put back in place to provide TCNJ with extra funds to help enhance the fitness center,” sophomore yoga instructor Gina Costanzo said. “We are hoping to be able to offer more classes and updated equipment.”

All of the revenue from the fees will go back into improving the Fitness Center and its programs.

“In no way do we profit from any of this,” said junior Fitness Center manager and Zumba instructor Kristina Kondakji. “We use all the money to add to the Fitness Center, including equipment, more hours of operation, space availability and the like. The fitness team wants to really blossom and make a mark in the TCNJ community.”

According to David Muha, the vice president for communication, marketing and brand management, “the College plans to increase the offerings at the center and the additional funds will be used to help support that.”

“A new recreation director will be starting soon, and students should expect to begin to see some of these changes shortly thereafter,” Muha said. 

The fees could be barriers to some students enjoying the classes, though, as yet one more cost to college life.

“As a college student, we all try to save money,” sophomore special education major Julia McKinnies said. “Therefore, if I can go exercise on my own for free, I would rather do that than have to pay for classes.”

With all the other financial requirements of which college students have to attend, paying for fitness classes may not be considered a high priority, according to McKinnies. 

“I’m sure this will make a lot of people think twice about signing up for these classes,” she said.

Kondakji, however, believes that the new and enhanced program will be a success. 

“I think as far as attendance goes, I don’t really think we will be hindered all that much,” Kondakji said. “I have gotten a lot of e-mails from students eager to come down and take classes.”

Students, surprised to hear about the new membership fee, question why this new price was implemented.

“I don’t think its right to now have to pay for classes — something that was originally a free and fun way to stay fit,” sophomore special education major Heather Weinberg said.

Sophomore psychology major Beth Strumpf, a frequent attendee of Fitness Center classes, accepts the new Membership Fee, yet still questions the decision.

“Last semester, I took a lot of classes there and I loved the concept of a free Fitness Center. It was really great coming and going as I wanted,” Strumpf said. “The $20 fee makes sense because of all the new equipment, but I think that my $30,000 tuition should cover that. Especially since once I pay the $20 fee, I’ll feel obligated to go more often and not just when I want to.”

Students express their confusion over the new price adjustment as they wonder where the proceeds go.

“If the funds were going towards paying the instructors (who are students) — that I guess (would make it) not as bad,” sophomore special education major Kelly Springer said.

“I think it’s a bit ridiculous to charge students  we are paying to go and use the facilities here already,” Springer said. “It seems a little unnecessary.”

Costanzo understands the student’s initial skepticism about the membership fee and was even originally worried about class attendance. “I was a little concerned at first about the fee affecting how many students will take advantage of the fitness classes at the Rec Center, but I think it may actually encourage more students to come and try different classes since they will want to get their money’s worth.”

Costanzo adds that this membership fee is a low-cost compared to other professional fitness studio classes. Fitness Center Manager Kondakji, too, agrees with Costanzo’s reasoning.

“The system we have is easy too — you just swipe your card and that’s all. No more signing in or the hassle of waiting in a line. I think this will improve the center and pave the way for new beginnings, more bright and potential beginnings.”

“I think that at first people may be a little displeased that they now have to pay to take fitness classes,” Costanzo said. “But hopefully everyone will see that it will actually benefit them by helping to improve the program and enabling us to give students the best fitness experience.”

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