Central Fitness Center

Jimmieka Mills, News Editor

As students at Houston Community College, we have many great recreational benefits. However, free access to the Central campus fitness center is not one of them.

At HCC, students pay for recreational sports programming through a $6 per semester fee.
Many campuses throughout HCC have free fitness and weight rooms for students, but Central students must pay more to use their campus fitness center.

HCC reopened the Central fitness center in 2014 after some changes. After the renovations, the fitness center no longer has a pool, so there are no aquatic activities. The center now has a row of treadmills, three 55-inch flat screen TVs, elliptical machines and a list of other amenities—all of which students and staff are required to pay for.

With fitness center student fees of $75 for fall and spring semesters, and $50 for summer, struggling students are paying $200 for access to the facilities every year. Some people may have no problem supporting their college by purchasing a membership, but that’s not what’s happening at Central.

The fees do not go to the college. Even though the fitness center is inside of the San Jac building on campus, the fitness center is not actually owned by HCC. According to Troy Jefferson, the college’s Rec Sports director, “The fitness center is a separate entity just as any other stand alone business in the midtown area.”

What does this mean for those choosing to purchase a membership? Know your facts and compare prices with surrounding fitness centers.

Since the fees are not going to HCC, a membership to the central fitness center holds the same weight as getting a membership from a big-name gym. There may actually be more benefits to joining a traditional gym.

Although the $200 yearly student fee may seem affordable, consider that many outside gyms have extended hours with 24 hour gyms becoming more of the norm. Access to the fitness center is based on the school schedule for the semester. If the campus is closed, so is the fitness center.

In the past, Central’s fitness center had hours that extended to 9pm, which is a more feasible time for staff and faculty to use the gym. The fitness center never stopped operating on a summer schedule, which means facilities close at 7pm.

A staff member, who requested to remain anonymous, stated that, “We really aren’t sure who to talk to in order to get those extended hours back. With access only being from 7am–7pm, faculty and staff have a difficult time trying to make it in before 7pm.”

Gyms that may charge a bit more (such as the 24 Hour Fitness at the corner of Elgin and Louisiana) offer access nearly everyday of the year with the exception of Christmas day. Their membership fees cover group cycling, steam room access, indoor lap pools and a kid’s club.

At Central, family membership purchases are available, but only family members over the age of 16 are permitted.

The Central fitness center has a few payment options. Students can choose to pay for a full semester at $75 or can get a day pass for $5. Fitness Center Manager Kristen Ledezma discourages the day pass option, pointing out that, “If you go to the gym four days on a day pass, you have already paid for a month’s use. It saves you a lot more if you just pay $20 for the month.”

Paying the monthly fee has a catch as well. “Monthly fees are not prorated, so regardless of when you pay, your fees will only be good until the last day of that month in which you pay,” stated Ledezma.

There is currently no yearly option for students, membership is only available on a semester by semester basis.

Meanwhile, the neighboring 24 Hour Fitness also offers day passes. “We have special offers that give you up to 3 days for free,” said Destiney, a Fitness Instructor at 24 Hour Fitness, “but coming into one of our locations will guarantee you one free day. As long as you have not held a membership to 24 Hour Fitness in the last 6 months, just provide an ID and you’re set.”

Although the fitness center is not covered under recreational fees, there are certain recreational sports and classes paid for by recreational fees that take place in the center.

The Central College’s Recreational Sports schedule includes boot camp and MMA conditioning classes on Monday and Wednesday 4:30–5:30 pm; Self Defense Tuesday 4:30–5:30; Step Fit classes Thursday 5:45–6:45pm; Zumba Monday and Wednesday 3–4pm; and Free Play Friday 3–5:30pm. These are some of the recreational sports programming which students’ $6 per semester fee go toward.