As the semester winds down, the University of South Dakota Wellness Center data shows card swipes have decrease by roughly 15 percent during the last month of fall semester when compared to the first three months of the fall semester. That same figure rises to 31 percent during the spring semester in January.
The Wellness Center collects data on a monthly cycle. As members enter, they must swipe their card near the front desk, which allows the Wellness Center to calculate the amount of people visiting the facility.
Director Steve Mayer said because of the drop in people working out at the gym, there are fewer staff members and programs during winter and summer break.
“We don’t need 75 fitness classes going on during finals week or the week after Christmas,” Mayer said.
For the first three months of the 2013 fall semester, card swipes average about 25,000 per month. From Nov. 15 to Dec. 15 2013, the amount of card swipes dropped to 21,789. The next cycle coincided with winter break, and there were only 11,120 card swipes.
However, after winter break, activity picked up. From Jan. 15 to Feb. 15 in 2014, there were 37,621 card swipes.
To accommodate the demand, the Wellness Center started a Biggest Loser program two years ago, which exploded into a year-long activity.
“It was popular enough that we didn’t just want to run it during the spring semester,” Mayer said.
By the April 16 to May 15 2014 period, card swipes dropped to 20,756 as the school year drew to a close. During the 2014 summer break, there were around 8,000 card swipes per month.
Additional in-depth Wellness Center data shows who uses the Wellness Center most often — between students and non-students.
From Oct. 27 to Nov. 2 there were 6,680 card swipes at the Wellness Center — 4,931 students and 1,749 non-students. The non-students include university staff as well as members of the Vermillion community.
Junior David Schelske enjoys the fact that community members are allowed to use the Wellness Center.
“This campus and this university thrives because of this community,” Schelske said. “It’s a two-way street — they both need access to it. They started it here so I think they have every right to use it.”
Senior Matt Trammel, who uses the Wellness Center five times a week to play basketball and lift weights, agrees with Schelske. He said community members should be able to use the Wellness Center.
Eleven-year-old Mackenzie Brady uses the Wellness Center about twice a week to play basketball or volleyball with her mom. However, she does not interact with the students.
“I haven’t really met many of the students,” Brady said.
Mayer said it is important to allow community members to use the Wellness Center.
“It’s essential to the paying of the bond,” Mayer said.
A single membership for a non-student costs $350 a year, the yearly fee for a couple is $650 and a family membership is $750 yearly. Monthly memberships cost $35 a month for an individual, $65 for a couple and $75 for a family.
“The Wellness Center gets paid by having community members, so if we didn’t have that it would be very difficult to pay the bond,” Mayer said.
This money adds to the pool of money used for renovations, such as the plans to get all new cardio equipment over winter break.
“All the stuff we have (now, its) shelf life is almost over,” Mayer said.
Mayer also said the revenue from paid memberships could also be used for expansion in the future.
“Whenever time they think about expanding the place, there will be extra money in the budget,” Mayer said.
(Breakout: Data collection by the University of South Dakota Wellness Center for the number card swipes.)
(Photo: Junior Carli Arnoldi swipes her student identification card at the entrance to the Wellness Center Tuesday afternoon. The number of people using the Wellness Center has dropped as the end of the semester has started to come to a close. Phil Millar / The Volante)