Union opens Oasis retreat

By Bridget Maiellaro

Amid the noise and bustle of the Illini Union, students will be able to relieve stress and stay fit by working out in a new lower-level exercise facility. A relaxation and rejuvenation center, known as the Oasis, will have its grand opening Friday, when students will be able to begin participating in several health, wellness and fitness services.

“We hope that it creates the idea that health isn’t just when you go to the health center when you are sick,” said Lisa Burgoon, SportWell coordinator and sports nutritionist. “It’s a place where you can be healthier, increase wellness and take care of yourself.”

The Oasis, located across from the Cactus Grill, will provide services that are currently unavailable in close vicinity to students. BodyWork Associates, a local massage parlor located at 407 W. Windsor Rd., will be performing professional massages on students and faculty members for discounted prices in the Oasis. Clients can choose from sessions ranging from 10-75 minutes.

Guests who attend the opening tour of the Oasis will receive a free mini-massage and the first 500 people will get a free stress ball.

“I’ll stop over there in between classes,” said Jessie Neyt, sophomore in FAA. “I need something to take my mind off of school for a while.”

Another important feature of the Oasis is the SportWell Center, which moved from the Intramural Physical Education Building on Jan. 17. SportWell’s staff includes athletic trainers, registered dieticians and exercise specialists, who will be available for appointments and classes.

“I believe that we will see a different population of students using SportWell,” said Ed Slazinik, director of Illini Union. “That is based on conversations I had with students. They believe students who maybe wouldn’t have gone to IMPE would come to the Union facility.”

The SportWell area will consist of an open exercise area, which Illini Union Hotel guests can also use, and a smaller room that is designed for students who are not comfortable working out in front of others.

“I think the fact that they created the room shows that they really do care about students’ needs,” Neyt said.

The Health Resource Center, where students can obtain free condoms and cold packs, also moved to the Oasis at the beginning of the semester. The center used to be located next to Ticket Central in the Illini Union.

“The Resource Center has been our best marketing tool,” Burgoon said. “When students come down to get supplies, we mention everything else that’s here. It’s helping the Oasis be successful.”

Other new services include a retail store that will sell items ranging from meditation compact discs, aromatherapy, athletic tapes and other items that relate to wellness. The retail store will not be complete by Friday.

A new relaxation room provides students with a 20-minute audio-visual guided imagery experience while relaxing through the practice of progressive muscle relaxation, said Jennifer Carson, wellness promotion specialist and McKinley’s stress management coordinator.

The relaxation room at the Oasis is not the only relaxation room on campus. The second, created five years ago, is located in room 330 at the McKinley Health Center.

“I had conducted a survey asking students what stress-related services they would be interested in having available and as a result many wanted some place to just relax,” Carson said. “So, the McKinley relaxation room was created.”

Room 330 is a place where students can “kick back, chill out, and relax for while between classes or while waiting for an appointment,” according to McKinley’s Web site.

The room, which has soft lights and meditation music constantly playing, includes items designed to help students relax, such as lava lamps, coloring books and crayons, crossword puzzles, word finds, etch-sketch, and playing cards. Students will also be able to sign out meditation CDs.

“I think the uniqueness of both relaxation rooms benefits the student and their desire to find relaxing ways to cope with their stress, which ultimately needs to fit the needs and interest of those individually,” Carson said.