Saorrono's Fitness Center analysis shows strengths, trends in facility use

Release Date: 4/20/2012

What started out for Cassie Saorrono as an internship paper topic has now bloomed into a useful key to her future employment.

Saorrono, who graduates this semester, has compiled a detailed use assessment and analysis of the new Mabee Student Fitness Center, which includes the Rawhouser Weight & Fitness Room and the Boreham Aerobics Room. She wrote the report for Coach Brett Stone as part of an internship this spring, then prepared a condensed version for the President's staff.

"Her presentation on the utilization of the fitness center is extremely helpful in our planning how to best use our facilities here," said Ozarks Executive Vice-President Steve Edmisten, who attended the presentation.

Such information has multiple uses. Saorrono cites as one example their ability to track which areas of the facility receive the most use. "The Boreham Aerobics Room didn't get much use in the beginning, back in September," Saorrono said. "However, use had tripled by March, which we attribute to the Zumba classes taught there."

Zumba is a Latin dance-inspired fitness program created during the 1990s which involves dance and aerobic elements.

The information also helps shape the hours the center is open for use. "When we started, we were opening at 5:00 a.m.," said Saorrono. "But we realized quickly virtually nobody came in that early, so we changed it to 6:00 a.m. starting in January. And we'll be able to fine tune the hours again in the fall. Making best use of available hours helps save on the costs of running the center, not only keeping the equipment running but also paying someone to operate the front desk."

Keeping track of usage in this way allows the fitness center to see the popularity and use of the different types of equipment. "The cardio equipment - the treadmills and exercise biking equipment - get the most use," said Saorrono. "From the first day, over 40-percent of equipment use is in that category." The Rawhouser Weight & Fitness Room also offers free weights and machine weights.

Saorrono says maintenance comes into play as well. "For example, it's important to know how often they need Matrix [the company behind the new equipment] to come and do maintenance on the equipment based on how much individual pieces are being used. You can look on the machines themselves, but just glancing through this data I can see they're going to have to come out pretty soon and rotate the treadmills. If you work there awhile you observe that most people using the treadmills automatically go to the middle ones. For some reason most people don't like to go to the outsides. So that puts a lot more hours on those machines, and they have to be occasionally rotated out, like rotating the tires on your car, so the other machines are getting some of those hours."

Saorrono said although she started out her project as a paper for a class, it has turned out to be beneficial in more ways than one. "I am a Physical Education major, and doing this project has been good practice for my future employment," she said. "In fact, I have a second job interview tomorrow in Little Rock to be a fitness manager, so I am going to use this project to show what I have done and can do."

Saorrono said ultimately the message the center sends is the importance of health and fitness. "Our target it to promote that on campus and get people active and try to let them know there's more to the place than just walking on the treadmill," she said. "It's a great facility, and it will only get better."