Update, May 22: The UC Davis Activities and Recreation Center was recently named as a 2019 recipient of the Thong Hy Huynh Award -Excellence in Community Involvement award by the City of Davis, recognizing significant efforts to improve the quality of life for Davis residents through the areas of health, human services, housing, education, or employment. Read more.

Nearly five years ago, the administration responsible for the University of California, Davis Campus Recreation identified a need to expand the UC Davis Activities and Recreation Center (ARC) and its available services. The growing number of students who frequented the existing space was resulting in longer and longer wait times for equipment and training offerings were hampered by limited room for expanding.

We asked Deb Johnson, Director of Recreation at UC Davis, to reflect on that experience and share insights into the obstacles they faced in opening a new space and to let us know how the new facility has been received since opening earlier this year.

Matrix: What were the goals for the new ARC?

Deb Johnson: Student enrollment now at 38,000 students has increased by about 8,000 students since the Activities and Recreation Center (ARC) opened in 2004. To meet the growing needs of students, campus recreation expanded the core of the facility into the courtyard and added a new level above the existing lobby, adding 16,300 new square feet of space and renovating 24,800 square feet of existing spaces.

The goals of the expansion and renovation were to optimize:

  • Dedicated space for strength and cardio equipment
  • Functional uses for the building
  • Energy efficiencies

Did you have any specific problems you were hoping to resolve?

The expansion has helped eliminate the excessive wait times we’d been experiencing for free weight racks, benches, and platforms. The space is now allowing ARC patrons to start and complete their workouts in a timely fashion before returning to class, studying, or work. The ARC has an open concept with lots of windows and exterior views.

Expanding the ARC facility provided an opportunity for us to add:

  • 164 new strength machines,
  • 10 new racks, bringing our total to 20
  • 15 insert platforms
  • Six free-standing platforms
  • 80 new cardio machines in addition to the 75 machines that were upgraded last year brings our total to 219 cardio pieces
  • Outdoor Fit Yard for group exercise and strongman-style workouts
  • Expanded space and number of bikes in our cycling studio
  • Expanded cardio loft with exterior views
  • New day-use lockers throughout the first and second levels
  • Brand-new functional equipment including medicine balls, foam rollers, atlas stones, kettlebells, stability balls, sand bags, tires, sleds, Olympics bars, curl bars, additional dumbbells, weight plates, bumper plates, change plates, technique plates, and more
  • Enhanced Wi-Fi data and security
  • Daylight harvesting LED lights

What led to UC Davis’ decision to partner with Matrix?

Our students had an opportunity to demo equipment in our facility and provide feedback on the pieces they wanted us to purchase. We chose Matrix because of the feedback we received from the students during this experience. We were also able to customize our equipment order.

How has your facility been received? Has it met your goals?

Our students love the new ARC! We’re averaging 1,000 additional patrons per day working out. We are welcoming so many new students to the rec center who haven’t used it before. Prior to the re-opening, approximately 80 percent of the student body used our programs and facilities. Our swipe data indicates that students who enroll in our programs are 288 percent more likely to enroll the following quarter than patrons who did not. Reaching the 20 percent of students who aren’t currently using our facility is a personal passion of ours, and the new facility is helping us achieve that goal.

Our weight room is so popular that we’ve already ordered 10 more benches and three additional bench press units to ensure our students can continue to get through their workouts in a timely manner. Prior to the renovation, students would stand in line for a rack or bench; now the lines are gone. The equipment is still always full, but there is much more working in and sharing of our equipment now. The positive energy in our facility is evident when you walk through the doors.

The students, faculty, staff and community love our facility. The energy is palpable. One of my favorite responses to our weight room so far is that “it’s more impressive than the Dallas Cowboys facility!”

About Matrix

Matrix is among the world’s premier—and fastest-growing—commercial fitness brands. Leading clubs and fitness facilities around the world choose to partner with us because Matrix delivers. We show our strength in our top-notch quality: our belts last longer, our motors run more smoothly, and we deliver a total cost of ownership that’s among the lowest in the industry. Matrix is a Diamond Partner of NIRSA and we have been an Associate Member since 2004.

Ashley Haberman is currently Marketing Manager – US Commercial for Matrix Fitness Systems; you can reach him at ashley.haberman@johnsonfit.com.