Open gym offers place for students to connect, compete

By Assistant Campus Editor

Kelly Wenzel
Students play pickup games and interact with fellow students from other South Loop colleges at an open gym, hosted at Roosevelt University’s Goodman Center, 501 S. Wabash Ave. The open gym sessions run Monday–Thursday during the semester.

For the last three years, Columbia has collaborated with Roosevelt and East-West universities to host open gym sessions at fitness facilities that students from all three institutions can use.

Columbia students benefit from this association because the East-West University facility now offers students from South Loop colleges an opportunity to participate in pickup games of basketball, volleyball, soccer and dodgeball, according to Columbia’s Fitness, Athletics & Recreation Coordinator, Mark Brticevich.

Extramural facilities available to Columbia students include Roosevelt’s Goodman Center, 501 S. Wabash Ave. and the basketball court located in East-West University’s residence hall The Flats, 829 S. Wabash Ave.

The Goodman Center that welcomes students for open gym sessions Monday through Thursday from 10 a.m.–1 p.m. Additionally, East-West has partnered with Columbia in opening its gym in The Flats for Columbia’s sports teams to practice for six hours each week, aside from the time  set for open gym opportunities, Brticevich said.

East-West hosts open gym sessions on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday every week from 5–9 p.m.

In addition, The Flats offers Pilates Mat classes from 4:30–5:30 p.m. on Mondays and Zumba classes from 4–5 p.m. on Wednesdays. Roosevelt’s Crown Fitness Center, 425. Wabash Ave., hosts Dance Fitness from 4:30–5:30 p.m. on Tuesdays and Pilaties/Yoga Fusion from 6:30–7:30 p.m. on Thursdays.

Brticevich, also a part-time faculty member in the Science & Mathematics Department, said  the partnership between the colleges began about 21 years ago from a need for resources other institutions had. The addition of new facilities at Roosevelt and East-West was an opportunity to continue that relationship, he said.

“It became increasingly evident that we needed new facilities, not only for our sports teams but just for students to go out and play,” Brticevich said.

He said the schools negotiated a way for all students to have access to one another’s facilities and programs. Columbia students can use Roosevelt’s gym during specified hours, and in turn, Columbia hosts two classes that are open to students from both schools at Roosevelt’s Barry Crown Fitness Center, 425 S. Wabash Ave., as well as allowing their students and athletes to join fitness courses at Columbia’s fitness center at 731 S. Plymouth Court, Brticevich said.

East-West constructed The Flats in late fall 2013. The dorm, which houses both East-West and Columbia students, is also home to a new gym with one basketball court.

Kendall Delashment, a second-year interdisciplinary arts graduate student at Columbia, said he is taking full advantage of the open facility opportunities on campus while he pursues his master’s.

Delashment said the variety of places offers a change of scenery for students to exercise and allows them to avoid the repetitiveness of attending a traditional setting of a gym in a more entertaining way. The open gym sessions also allow him to play sports and interact with students from other institutions and disciplines that interest him, he said.

“When you have open gym between different communities, it inspires a deeper sense of community—a more whole community,” Delashment said.

Similarly, Bernard Forson, a freshman cinema art + science major, said he is excited about the opportunity of meeting new people at open gym events.

“I get to meet people that are not only from Columbia but are from other schools in the city, and it’s pretty fun meeting new people,” Forson said.

Forson said he frequently participates in the pickup basketball games held at Roosevelt’s Goodman Center and East-West’s gym in The Flats as a way to not only stay active and get exercise, but also to stay connected to the entire campus community.

“On a campus like this where fitness is not something that is widely embraced, anything that we can do to get students to move around, to not sit so much and to be active, network and have fun, we’re trying to do,” Brticevich said.