With Columbia’s campus spread across the bustling backdrop of the South Loop, it is easy to forget all of the amazing facilities that the college provides for all students. One such place in the Fitness Center, located at 731 S. Plymouth, directly to the left of the front security desk. If you just want to stretch out and do some yoga or want to start your own health regiment, the Fitness Center is an open facility free for Columbia students.

But what does the Fitness Center have to offer? Though the setting is more intimate than many of the gym chains throughout Chicago, you should be able to find anything that you need to get your heart rate up. From treadmills and free weights to weight machines for every muscle, the Fitness Center has all of the tools available for students to workout however they like. The Fitness Center also has lockers with provided locks along with showers for students to use at their convenience. To make things even easier on students, the facility is open from 9am to 9pm on weekdays and from 3pm to 7pm on weekends, so you can go burn calories between classes or use your days off to get fit.

If you are looking for more structure in your exercise, Mark Brticevich has you covered. Mark is the Coordinator of Fitness, Athletics, and Recreation at Columbia and has worked hard to develop the Fitness Center, including the creation of free Fitness Classes for every weekday. “What I’ve tried to do is create classes that are transferable and relatable to a dorm or apartment,” says Mark. The classes utilize little to no equipment, so students can replicate the activities at home. They offer head-to-toe workouts, high-intensity training, and the brand new core-power yoga class on Friday at 5:30pm. The classes are held on the lower level below the main Fitness Center location.

For several years, Mark has been dedicated to developing opportunities for Columbia’s students to maintain a healthy and active lifestyle, even as far back as when the school first started coordinating with Roosevelt University to share a gym. As Columbia moves forward, Mark is very outspoken about how he wants students to take advantage of the center.

“The whole reason for setting up the program was to help people get well. It’s not about ‘looking good,’ though for some people it is an aesthetic thing. But you don’t get healthy by accident… That’s what this program is about.”

As wonderful as having free and convenient access to a workout space and exciting classes are, Mark Brticevich wants to keep pushing towards higher and higher goals to support the entire student body of Columbia.

“The Fitness Center should be a place of community. The whole Columbia community should be involved. This is a place we want people to be comfortable. If you want to come here and exercise, come and exercise. If you are between classes and want to visit and support friends, that’s cool, too. It is a safe place and everyone is welcome.”

Plans are in the works for a new Fitness Center in January 2019, where not only will there be more space, but also additional programming designed around self-care. From cooking meals at home to making sure your sleep schedule is adequate, fitness is a lot more than just doing some bench-presses and squats. But don’t let that be an excuse to put off a visit to our current facility. Mark and his team are there to support all students on their individual paths towards healthy living each and every day.

For information on the Fitness Center, click here. For more details on classes offered, you can click here, or visit the Fitness Center for a detailed handout. Follow the FAR on Facebook here for a wide variety of health tips.

Photography by Daniel Livingstone