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Published December 12, 2012, 11:30 PM

M State ready to open $1.5M fitness center

MOORHEAD – The newest addition to the Minnesota State Community and Technical College campus here is getting ready to open its doors.

By: Ryan Johnson, INFORUM

MOORHEAD – The newest addition to the Minnesota State Community and Technical College campus here is getting ready to open its doors.

Matt Sheppard, college facilities director, said planning for the $1.5 million student-funded fitness center began in 2005 when members of the Student Government Association wanted the campus to have its own fitness facilities.

But until a legislative change in 2010, Minnesota’s two-year colleges didn’t have fundraising authority for projects like this, which delayed the facility until construction began in May.

“It’s been a dream for seven years to get this,” Sheppard said.

Student leaders seized on the legislative change, and in 2010 a campus vote authorized going ahead with the plan, said Angela Mathers, student life director. Final details on the space are being worked out now, and the center will officially open to enrolled students Jan. 14 at the start of the spring semester.

The 4,400-square-foot facility is housed in a new addition built on the northwestern side of campus, boasting seven treadmills, six elliptical machines and three stationary bikes in addition to free weights, weight machines, a group fitness room, and locker rooms and showers.

Sheppard said after years of studying the possibilities, students decided they wanted a small-scale center mimicking the look and features of private 24-hour fitness clubs.

Mathers said the on-campus facility will offer convenience and accessibility to the school’s 3,500 students.

“Being a community and technical college, they typically have families, jobs and academics, so it’s something they’ll be able to fit in between classes or before they run home for whatever they have to do for the rest of the night,” she said.

Mathers said the facility is funded through a student fee of $2.20 per credit that’s been in place since 2010, and a subsidy of $1.80 for each student credit that comes out of the student government activity fee budget.

Sheppard said revenue from these student fees will be enough to cover all costs of running the facility, meaning it will be fully funded by students and won’t rely on taxpayer support.

The fitness center will be open 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday for enrolled students on the Moorhead campus. Mathers said the college is now in the process of hiring a full-time staff member who will run the facility, and once additional student workers are hired, the hours could be expanded to 6 a.m. to 10 p.m.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Ryan Johnson at (701) 241-5587