In an ultra-fit city like Boulder, it's no surprise that the university Recreation Center offers far more than the traditional campus gym.

In fact, the University of Colorado has two different indoor rec centers. But that's just the beginning.

The Rec Center offers students more than 300,000 square feet of space, spanning multiple basketball and tennis courts, an ice rink, three artificial turf and four grass fields, four pools and a 7,000-square-foot climbing gym and more.

The Bear Creek Rec Center caters to students living in Williams Village.

Full fee-paying students have access to both facilities, although some of the features cost extra. For example, the climbing gym costs $25 extra per semester and group fitness classes are $85. Intramural sports and special instructional classes, such as martial arts, dance and tennis lessons, also have various additional fees, according to Annie Mulvany, the assistant director of marketing for CU rec.

And the rec services' offerings do not stop where campus's boundaries end.

After all, when a school is this close to the mountains, there's a whole natural, outdoor recreational wonderland to explore.


One of the most unique features CU students can take advantage of is the Outdoor Program, which brings students on outdoor excursions and teaches them about safety, the environment and outdoor skills. Learn to kayak, scuba, rock climb or ice climb.

New students can sign up for a whole different kind of orientation program. Before starting their first semester, first-year and transfer students can sign up for one of several different outdoor orientation trips, such as a trip kayaking down the Colorado River, followed by five days of backpacking and climbing in a state forest.

For new students who want a taste of the outdoors, without such a deep immersion, there's CU Bound, which spans a team-building obstacle course, rock climbing in the rec center and a pool party and barbecue with other new students.

Some of these guided trips also have different fees, Mulvany says.

Recreation offerings also include student-run fly fishing and kayak clubs, which organize regular trips and participate in various competitions.

Another unique offering through the Outdoor Program is the Adventure Planning Center, where students can go for help planning an outdoor trip. Experts will help them plan, print maps, browse guide books, find and rent equipment, plan routes and hash out necessary details to having a safe and enjoyable outdoor adventure in Colorado. These services are free to rec center members.

For extra safety and knowledge, students can get certified through the Wilderness First Responder Class.

CU's rec department also offers intramural sports and club sports, from dance to baseball to crew, as well as more traditional group fitness classes, which include indoor cycling and Pilates Reformer training.

For well-rounded health and fitness, students can also take advantage of CU's free Musculoskeletal Injury Clinic, which screens for and injuries and offers injury-prevention techniques with a physical therapist; free basic nutritional consultations through the Nutrition Resource Clinic; and personal training, using the MicroFit Health and Fitness System.

CU has also offered a free flu clinic and fee-based massage therapy for students.

"We like to offer a diverse offering of programs and services to appeal to all CU students, to see if they can find a fit within the rec center," Mulvany says.

The best way to find your personal fit? The first week of school, many programs are free to try out, she says. All group fitness classes (110 per week) are free. Ice-skate rentals are free for the rink. Bouldering at the climbing gym is free.

Weight-training 101, to learn how to properly use the equipment, is free year-round, Mulvany says.

During the second week of the semester, all instructional class, such as martial arts and dance, are free, she says.

The goal: to give students a taste of all that recreation services offers and get them connected and active from the beginning of school.

Aimee Heckel: