What incoming freshmen need to know about UNF’s Student Wellness Complex

Courtney Green

College is a time to reinvent yourself, and many people see physical fitness as an integral part of reinvention. To get our new students acquainted with UNF’s Student Wellness Complex, Spinnaker spoke with Ashley Ballard, Senior Director of Recreation and Wellness.

The most important thing you should know about our gym, according to Ballard, is that it isn’t just a gym. “It’s a complex because it’s full of other important components that look at students holistically” Ballard said. “For example, when you come into the Wellness Complex and you want to be physically active, you may not know what to do or where you are physically, so you could easily go to the Assessment Center and get a full fitness assessment that tests the five components of fitness. We would then link you to a fitness trainer that can walk you through the dynamics of the fitness center floor. If you want to go further, of course you can do personal training.”

“It’s not just your average gym. It’s much more,” said Ballard. 

What makes UNF’s Student Wellness Complex unique in comparison to other university gyms is that it focuses on the well-being of the entire student.

A service you might want to look out for is the Assessment Center, which is located upstairs inside the Dottie Dorion Fitness Center. The Fitness Center also offers a free fitness orientation of your choice, from novice to interval to free weight workouts. In addition, the Osprey Cliff, a 34 foot rock wall designed to challenge you physically and mentally, is available if you are just looking for something fun to do.

Group fitness classes are offered downstairs for those who would prefer to be walked through a workout or prefer to workout among friends. In-house dietitians are also available to assist you with nutritional concerns. Recreation and Wellness services host a series of fun activities students are encouraged to try including the Tough Talon (a 2-4 mile endurance challenge in UNF’s Nature Trails), the weightlifting competition and the Zombie Run.

In addition to providing all of these services and experiences, the Student Wellness Complex strives to make sure every student is safe while using the facility.

“When we developed this gym, Jim Baur [Associate Director of the Student Wellness Complex] looked at other universities across the state of Florida. He talked to faculty, staff and students to see what was right and what was wrong,” Ballard shared. “Of course we have other risk management protocols and safety procedures to ensure that if anything happens, whether it’s something as dreadful as an active-shooter, that we have policies in place and our student staff and professional staff are trained to handle those types of situations.”

Why should you consider giving the Student Wellness Complex a try?

Well, the answer boils down to a few simple facts. As a UNF student, your gym membership is included in your tuition, whether you use the gym or not. Might as well get your money’s worth, right? In addition, staying fit and active is an easy way to keep yourself healthy and de-stress after a long day of classes and the gym offers many ways to achieve this, whether you prefer group fitness yoga classes or solo weightlifting.

As a final parting thought, Ballard encouraged both new students and those who have attended UNF for some time to come give the Student Wellness Complex a try.

“I think the biggest thing is if you’ve never tried us, give us a try. And we’re always open to new suggestions, so, you know, if you’ve come from a high school or even another college or university, and you say ‘hey, this worked at my university,’ we are so open to making changes and to always being better.”


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