Skip to Main Content


You are in the main content

Mar 10, 2015

5 Things That May Surprise You About UREC

Written by Heather Gately ('13)

I quickly realized during my time at JMU that UREC was no ordinary "gym." It is a recreation center that is home to a wide variety of activities with the goal of "Motivating Madison Into Motion". The environment and people bring an energy to this campus that is truly motivating. I wanted to share some things that surprised me about UREC - that I thought would be beneficial for incoming students, or anyone else in the JMU community that has yet to take advantage of the wonderful opportunities UREC has to offer.

Here are the five surprising things I found at UREC:

5. All Different Kinds of Dukes

Did you know that there were over 500,000 visits to UREC last year? I have found the most diverse sampling of the JMU community within the walls of UREC. Everyone has their own perception about what the “typical JMU student” looks like, but take one step into UREC and that perception will be wiped clean. No matter your year, gender, major, fitness level, or interest, UREC offers something for everybody. It’s the perfect place to meet new people who share your favorite activities or to try something new and exciting!

4. A Place to Relax and Relieve Stress

Exercise can be one of the best forms of stress-relief. I’ll never forget the feeling I had walking out of my first Zumba class at UREC. It was like the weight of midterms had been lifted off my shoulders, and I was ready to meringue and sashay my way to Carrier Library and take on studying with a whole new attitude. Then there was the post-breakup boxing session where I did some seriously therapeutic visualization of my ex’s face in the middle of my punching bag. For those times I was looking for a more low key approach to stress-relief, there were yoga and meditation classes, the spa and sauna, and even my favorite “treat-yo-self” activity, UREC massage appointments.

3. An Awesome Outdoor Park

For those of you who haven't been there yet, University Park is an off-campus recreation facility that just opened in 2012. It has turf fields, courts for basketball, sand volleyball, and tennis, and it even has an 18-hole disc golf course. There are changing rooms, a grass lawn, and a pavilion that is perfect for picnics and cookouts. This summer I had a blast playing Disc Golf with my friends! Even though I’m a novice with no discs of my own, I was able to check out a set from the Gatehouse for free. There are buses that run regularly to the facility, and it’s only a couple minutes from campus up Port Republic Road, so you have no excuse not to get out there this year!

2. Opportunities to Give Back

UREC is a place with a heart. Both the staff and the participants of UREC help make charitable efforts every year. The annual Warm A Winter Wish fundraiser collects hundreds of holiday presents for people in need from several organizations in the Harrisonburg area. The fundraiser concludes with a wrapping party that attracts speakers and entertainment from all over campus. UREC also leads several alternative break service trips, including a Spring Break trip to the Bahamas, at which participants facilitate team building activities and fitness education for children at a primary school on New Providence Island.

1. A Meaningful On-Campus Job

Applying for a job at UREC was the best decision I made at JMU. At the time, I had no idea that it would be the defining element of my college experience, but I soon came to realize that it would have a massive impact on my life. The people are wonderful and the atmosphere is always positive and uplifting. Not only have I formed relationships that will last a lifetime, but I’ve also learned just as much at UREC as I have in the classroom. Working at UREC has taught me skills in time management, leadership, team building, service ethic, as well as the widespread benefits of a healthy lifestyle. My job at UREC has been so much more than a paycheck, and I encourage anyone who’s interested to learn more about working at UREC!

Heather Gately (center) as a Camp Counselor

Heather Gately (pictured - center) will continue her time at JMU with a Graduate Assistantship at UREC while she studies Campus Recreation Leadership.