Employee memberships are a new push for recreation services

To help serve students better, recreation services wants to serve more faculty and staff.

The importance of faculty and staff well-being, and the impact it has on students, is clearer and more urgent than ever, said recreation services director Mike Giles.

“From the president on down, there’s been a big push to improve overall employee well-being, especially since the pandemic,” he said. "If our faculty and staff are healthy and well, that will improve the experiences of our students. We're able to be more attuned to our jobs. The ultimate goal is student success."

Because it's focused on students, recreation services has never made a sustained intentional appeal to faculty and staff, Giles said -- though the unit’s programming and facilities always have been available to employees who opt to join as members.

That's changing now. Recreation services and ISU WellBeing are collaborating on a new staff position focused on faculty and staff outreach, and membership fees for ISU employees have been restructured to provide a greater incentive to join, Giles said. The annual fee for faculty and staff is now $350, less than $30 a month if paid in full upfront.

"We felt it was time to implement some strategies to support faculty and staff well-being," he said.

The not-yet-filled new staff position will work to educate employees about recreational opportunities and design programming specific to faculty and staff needs, Giles said. That could involve customized membership options, such as a "walker" plan that provides indoor track access during the winter, or incorporating recreation services offerings in ISU WellBeing's Adventure 2 program.

"It’s not just about lifting weights. It’s about finding those avenues that lead to better well-being," he said.

Before the pandemic, about 600 faculty and staff were recreation services members, Giles said. The goal is to increase that number, though there's no specific target.

Membership provides access to State GymBeyer Hall and Lied Recreation Athletic Center -- which includes two indoor pools, four indoor tracks, climbing walls and boulders, more than 200 pieces of cardio and strength equipment, cycling studio, steam room, and courts for basketball, volleyball and racquetball. Employee members also can take unlimited group fitness classes, get deals on outdoor equipment rentals and are eligible for intramural competitions.

During family hours (weekends noon-6 p.m. in the fall and spring semesters, any time during academic breaks), supervised children can use the facilities with a member for $2 per visit. Employee spouses and adult dependents are eligible for memberships as affiliates, though the rate is slightly higher and they first must purchase an ISU Card.

If paying the annual fee in full, employees can join online. To set up a monthly payroll deduction, visit the administrative office at 1180 State Gym.