For UGA employees who like to exercise individually or in smaller group settings with more one-on-one attention from a trainer, it is one of the best-kept secrets on campus.
For more than 30 years the UGA Fitness Center, based in the College of Education and located in the Ramsey Student Center, has provided supervised exercise programs to adults with heart disease and training for students to work as exercise specialists in cardiac rehabilitation programs.
Now, it has transitioned into a contemporary fitness program with a new mission and a new name-the UGA Center for Physical Activity and Health.
Ellen Evans, its new director and an associate professor of exercise science in the kinesiology department, is leading the center’s transformation. The Fitness Center was established in 1980 by Harry Duval, a professor in the physical education department in the College of Education. It was designed as an outreach program that also served as a teaching/learning lab for student practicums and internships.
The center now includes programming for a variety of populations with an emphasis on the prevention and management of chronic diseases and conditions that benefit from physical activity.
Evans is the perfect person to lead this transition. She earned her doctorate in exercise science at UGA in 1998 under the guidance of Kirk Cureton, professor and head of the kinesiology department. She is a widely recognized researcher in body composition and exercise. Since joining the UGA faculty in 2010, she has secured $1.8 million in new external funding, $1.3 million as principal investigator.
Evans says the changes will benefit individuals from the Athens community as well as UGA researchers, faculty, staff and students.
“The goal is to provide community outreach programs and learning opportunities for our students while simultaneously providing infrastructure for research in physical activity,” Evans said.
“Employee health and wellness programs, which always include exercise, are of high interest because the health benefits translate into a more productive employee and reductions in health care costs,” Evans also said. “We plan to reach out to UGA employees. We want the center to be a resource for the ‘working Dawgs’ who prefer a smaller fitness facility with greater one-on-one attention. For about a dollar a day, members receive a very comprehensive program.”