EXPLAINER: Who has access to OCC’s Fitness Complex?

The main entrance of the OCC Fitness Complex located in Monitor Way. 

After a long day of school and work, students try to make an effort to take care of their health by working out with such a tight schedule. Marvin Diebel, an Orange Coast College international student and resident at The Harbour, chooses to prioritize his health by working out five to six days per week at Planet Fitness, one of the closest and cheapest gymnasiums available for him. He is currently taking night classes that enable him to go to work in the morning and work out in the afternoon. However, it takes him some time to arrive.

If he decides to walk, it will take him 30 minutes, but it will only take him 10 minutes if he rides his bike. Diebel is able to get his workout done, but he is not happy with his current gym. “I don’t really like the spirit in my current gym,” Diebel said. “Because of that reason, I think I could benefit from using the [OCC] Fitness Complex to have more fun while expanding my workout routine.”

Some students assume that every student is allowed to use the Fitness Complex but that is not the case. “I don't really know why they are not able to open it up for all students,” Diebel said. 

He thought that maybe as a Harbour resident, he would get special treatment to use the facility, but he does not. “I was frustrated. I really thought I was able to use it. I figured out that I would have to take a class,” Diebel said. “Even if I would use it, I am not allowed to use it outside the hours of the class.”

The Fitness Complex is a two-story building with a total area of 49,000 square feet has a large multipurpose area that can be used as a gymnasium or a large group instruction space. An equipment room, a 6,000-square-foot Strength Lab, a 2,600-square-foot Cardio Lab, an Exercise Science Testing Lab, and a fitness studio and classroom are all part of the Fitness Complex. 

The Fitness Complex is currently being used by two programs: kinesiology activity classes and open training classes. Kinesiology activity classes have two types: weight training classes, which have a specific meeting pattern, and athletic teams that are scheduled to work out and prepare for games. 

“The second one is open training times, where students sign up for a class, Kinesiology 109, and that gives the students the flexibility to utilize the cardio side or weight side depending on the time that the faculty specifies,” Dean of Kinesiology, Public Health and Athletics Michael Sutliff said. 

According to Sutliff, most universities have a fitness center that is paid for through student fees, but OCC does not charge students for the Fitness Complex.

“A fitness center is run and operated as an independent organization. Universities will build a fitness center so students can use it like a 24-Hour Fitness,” Sutliff said. “Those are well funded through those fees and are able to hire people to manage and provided the supervision that is required.”

Sutliff also explained that on-campus living at four-year schools differs greatly from two-year schools.

“Universities also have dorms which allow and require access to these sort of things on evenings and weekends. We don’t have that structure here,” Sutliff said. “We operate more like a class-based scenario, but we’ve tried to accommodate the flexibility of freedom by creating classes that allow for that flexibility.” 

The Fitness Complex was built with the intent to have it as an educational experience, according to Sutliff.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, all students had to do remote learning, which affected the demand for the Fitness Complex. With the recent creation of The Harbour campus student housing, residents like Diebel wonder if they can use it. 

“We’ve collected some data which is not as extensive as I was hoping it would be. We were anticipating more involvement from The Harbour. We’re not finding that yet. But I do anticipate an increase over time,” Sutliff said. “I believe that COVID played a huge role in this thing. I would like to respond to the data because I am in a position to create more options, it’s just a matter of students expressing the interest, committing to signing up and making classes justifiable.” 

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