Fitness application lifts itself into college gyms

A new fitness application is making college recreation centers more accessible to busy students.

The application, "upace," was created by Rachel Koretsky, a recent graduate from American University. It puts students in control of their exercise schedule by showing facility information, such as building occupancy and room availability.

“(upace) allows you to always stay in the know about what’s happening at your rec center, from knowing how crowded the gym is as well as when it’s open or closed. You can sign up in advance for group fitness classes as well as reserve the cardio equipment,” she said.

The app is both a downloadable and web-based application, meaning it can be accessed by its URL or mobile application, she said.

It has an administration portal for each university to guide their app at all times. This gives each university the ability to input information such as the crowdedness of their recreation centers and the schedule of group classes available.

Universities are able to check in students who use upace to sign up for group classes. They are also able to see the usage of their recreation centers at given times of the day, she said.

Stacy Trukowski, the interim executive director of Recreation for Rutgers University, said that upace gives students much easier access to the recreation center directory.

One key feature is informing the user how full the recreation centers are, helping busy students schedule their time better. Although this is not a major issue at the University recreation centers in the fall, she said there are many issues in the first half of the spring semester.

The app allows the user to sign up for classes with ease. Users can select classes based on the building or meeting time to see what is available, instead of searching through sheets of paper with small font, which she said is helpful for smaller classes that quickly reach maximum capacity.

“We have RU FIT TRX that we can only fit 14 people in because of the type of class it is. The people that like to go there like to know that they have a spot, because we know everybody is busy, and no one likes to show up and not have a spot,” Trukowski said.

This is not as important with larger classes, but it does enable the University to see which students are using certain programs, which can potentially be used to hold competitions for the number of classes a student takes, she said.

Koretsky was inspired to create upace after consistently experiencing long wait times at her university’s recreation center, being unable to join group fitness classes and having to use other recreation centers in the area.

“One day I thought about it and I started talking with other students from my university and universities across the United States,” she said. “I went to about 30 different universities and I spoke with them about this idea I had, and those conversations developed upace.”

Taking upace from its conception to building the application and finally launching it was both a challenging and rewarding experience, she said.

The app mostly spread to new campuses through word of mouth, as many students have connected upace with their recreation centers. Their main focus, though, is ensuring that the current universities and their users are happy with the product they have received, she said.

Spreading through universities brings its share of challenges, such as having to accommodate the University’s four recreation centers and five fitness centers, Trukowski said.

“We’re working with the app to improve it a little bit, and that’s the one thing I like about this app, that they’re looking to change, to improve and to accommodate our situation here at Rutgers,” she said.

One goal of upace is to increase motivation for students to go to recreation centers and exercise. Upace sets reminders for classes that users register for, holding the user accountable for their commitment to exercise, Trukowski said.

“I think exercise should be scheduled in. I think you should be able to say ‘Hey, I’m going to go to the gym and use the treadmill on this day,’” she said. “It’s easy to blow off your workout if you have no accountability towards it.”

Being able to check recreation center availability is a large motivator for students, because it makes students curious about how crowded it is. Knowing that it is not as crowded as expected might make a student more likely to go, she said.

Raina Josemon, an Ernest Mario School of Pharmacy sophomore, said upace would be very helpful to get students into the recreation centers.

“I think it’s useful. It’ll help (students) plan out their time for when to go to the gym, when is a convenient time to go and where on campus,” she said.

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