WIMPE reopens after construction delays

Melissa Smoler, sophomore in education jogs on treadmills on the second floor of the newly opened Campus Recreation Center East (CRCE) Tuesday night. Troy Stanger

By Tracy Douglas

Outside of Campus Recreation Center East (CRCE), signs proclaimed that it is now open for Wednesday’s grand opening. Pronounced “sir-see,” it is no longer WIMPE.

“We wanted to make sure everything was right,” said Jayne DeLuce, associate director at the Division of Campus Recreation, about the delayed opening.

Inside the revamped facility, people played in the new aquatic center, worked out in the new fitness area, played racquetball and basketball, and joined in the new fitness classes.

DeLuce said the goal of the renovation projects is to try to create a distributed system and attract non-users. She also said that it can be a place to go to work out or hang out between classes.

Among the new amenities are a new lobby with computers and a table area, three racquetball courts with glass doors, an aquatic center with a glass wall and multi-activity rooms with glass doors. DeLuce said the glass introduces activities that people might not normally do.

“A ton have been coming through. Recreations have been great,” DeLuce said.

The new CRCE, located at 1102 W. Gregory Drive in Urbana, has triple the space of the previous building, including double the fitness area, three racquetball courts, two multi-purpose rooms, an eighth of a mile track, and an aquatic center, she said.

The aquatic center includes a slide, pool, spa, water volcano and a wall with water cascading down it.

DeLuce said the aquatic center is more inviting for family-oriented activities and disabled persons with its zero-depth entry.

Inside the aquatic center, the floor tiles are various shades of blue and white; tables surround the pool area, and palm trees decorate the area.

The palm trees are real ones treated with a preservative, said Ed Morford, assistant director of risk management and aquatics at the Division of Campus Recreation.

Inside the building, there is a list of “50 Things You’ll Like About CRCE.” Number one is the 104-degree spa. Another sign advertises the new group fitness workouts, including yogalates (a combination of yoga and pilates), trekking (a group treadmill workout) and hip-hop dance.

Martel Jackson, junior in business, leads one of the hip-hop group exercises. He became an instructor after fellow member in Dance 2XS and instructor, Maren Mack, told him about it.

“I’m looking forward to it. I want to go into dancing or choreography for the music industry, so this is a good experience,” Jackson said.

DeLuce said Campus Recreation is offering new formats for the group fitness in addition to the existing formats.

She said the upper level of CRCE was added. It includes a treadmill area overlooking the south campus, afitness machine area, and a track.

Assistant director of fitness for Campus Brian Baxter said all the exercise equipment is new and some is still on the way. Among the equipment are 16 bikes, including recumbent bikes that allow you to sit back, and upright bikes.

“(A bike display screen) walks you right through it,” said Michelle Mermelstein, a personal trainer and sophomore in applied life studies. For a more difficult workout, students can use the Stair Master that makes people actually walk up stairs.

Grad student Jung Hyun Lim exercised on the treadmills for her first time going to the gym.

“I like it very much. It was very impressive,” Lim said. She said she also enjoyed the music that was playing in the building.

Fitness facilities are becoming a recruitment tool, and Campus Recreation is working with the Office of Admissions on becoming part of the recruitment pamphlets and tours, DeLuce said.

The Campus Recreation renovation project is being done in two phases with CRCE and IMPE, she said.

DeLuce said renovations on the Intramural Physical Education Building (IMPE) will begin sometime this summer depending on when the second bid is approved. When those renovations on IMPE, 201 E. Peabody Drive in Champaign, are finished, the University will have the largest fitness facility in the nation, DeLuce said.