Before walking into a university’s gym, you may try to picture all the different personalities you will bump into. The Chads and Brads hard at work pumping iron. The girls frantically doing 12-3-30 on the treadmill. The kids walking around aimlessly in groups and huddled around a singular machine. While you may end up seeing these characters and many others, the Bobby E. Leach Recreation Center— often shortened to “the Leach”— is bound to surprise you with all it has to offer in terms of its environment and amenities.
I sat down with one of the Leach’s employees, Alexandra “Alex” Mendoza, to gain more insight on what makes the gym so special. She is a second-year psychology student who has been working at the Leach for a year now. Mendoza does not seem at all tired of her workplace and is grateful for the experiences she has gained. Her role as Facility Attendant entails various responsibilities. Her job has a major focus on customer service. It is essential for her to help patrons with any questions they have about the gym, for example, clarifying where they may find certain equipment. It is also vital that she ensures the safety of the gym for patrons and staff members. In doing so, she cleans around the gym and makes sure everything is organized.
The Leach offers a tremendous variety of resources and amenities. There is something for everyone. Not every physical activity is suitable for everyone. Therefore, having a great deal of options to choose from aids in allowing each student to find their favorites. When asked to list some of the amenities and activities offered, Mendoza took a second to see where to even start. For those whose cup of tea is running miles on end, there is a track. Students with a set workout split can enjoy the ample weight training and cardio equipment. Individuals who may want a bit more guidance can be put in touch with a personal trainer. Those who prefer taking classes can partake in spinning, yoga, kickboxing, F45, cardio, dance, pilates, total body sculpt, barre, and multiple other group classes. There are also big studio rooms, volleyball rooms (that may also be used for pickleball and squash), and basketball rooms. Students who prefer taking their workouts underwater can utilize the pool. Additionally, there is a sauna for those who feel they didn’t sweat enough during their workout.
I asked Mendoza what she believed to be the advantage of students working out at the Leach as opposed to other fitness facilities. Without hesitation, she affirmed that the Leach may have a more friendly environment in comparison with other gyms. As everyone stepping foot in the Leach is about the same age, it can be a more welcoming experience. Of course, it doesn’t hurt that it’s free. Most of us are living on a budget in college and saving those minimum ten dollars monthly can really make a difference.
Despite this, some people may still be a bit intimidated about going to the Leach the first couple of times. Mendoza provides them with reassurance by attesting that “[You] don’t need to worry. Even though it’s a big facility, you can always ask the staff any questions you have. With time, you’ll get used to working out here, and you won’t feel as overwhelmed.” Moreover, she offers individuals who are nervous to go work out at the Leach a few tips to combat this uneasiness. She exclaims, “Come with a friend!” It may be a less daunting experience with someone by your side helping to navigate the gym. She also advises that before jumping right into your workout, you should be open to walking around first and getting acquainted with everything in the gym. She encourages “wear[ing] something you feel comfortable in.” Lastly, she recommends having a great playlist ready. Ultimately, Mendoza assures that you don’t need to worry about feeling intimidated by others as everyone is focused on doing their thing. Not to mention, most people are probably just as worried as you about getting judged.
Mendoza has noticed many significant changes in her personal life since starting at the Leach in the fall of 2021. She explains, “Working at the Leach helps with my mental health because it’s a good break from school and the staff is friendly.” She has also noted that her experience working in a fitness environment has changed her mindset around health and wellness. She feels motivated to work out more as she sees that the people around her are disciplined and committed to their fitness. Additionally, Mendoza acknowledges the development of her leadership and social skills because of the hat she wears at the Leach. She must demonstrate responsibility to patrons, be prepared for any concerns or questions brought up to her by patrons, and be able to express herself well.
Personally, the atmosphere of the gym I work out in makes or breaks my experience. I may be more inclined to make it to the gym, even on days that I am busy, if I enjoy the environment at the gym I train at. On the flip side of the coin, if I dislike the gym’s climate, I may be less likely to show up if I have any excuse not to. The Leach is a great option for students at Florida State University who are either looking to continue their health and wellness journeys or who are wanting to take strides toward their fitness.