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Running head: BARRIERS PREVENTING OFF-CAMPUS STUDENTS

Barriers Preventing Off-campus Students From


Using On-campus Recreation Facilities
Ryan Bradshaw
George Mason University
EDRS 812

BARRIERS PREVENTING OFF-CAMPUS STUDENTS

Barriers Preventing Off-campus Students From Using On-campus Recreation Facilities

Every time a student enters a Mason Recreation facility or takes part in a Mason
Recreation program, a record of that interaction is generated through one of three ways: the
students ID card is swiped and logged in a facility management software, the participation is
logged by staff members or student leaders through an online management software for
intramural sports and club sports, or staff members manually check in participants on paper. All
participant records are kept using the students university ID number. For the 2014-15 academic
year, a total of 15,295 unique students entered a Mason Recreation facility or took part in a
Mason Recreation program. That group of students accounted for 394,537 visits. The mean
number of visits per student over the course of the 2014-15 academic year was 26.7.
The university ID numbers of Mason Recreation facility and program users were shared
with Masons University Life Department of Assessment, Research, and Retention. That office
compared the ID numbers to the entire student populations demographic information in five
categories: gender, international student status, course load, housing status, and in or out-of-state
residency.
The results showed two main demographic factors that influenced if and how frequently
students were using Recreation facilities and programs: gender and housing status. 64.5% of
female students interacted with Mason Recreation less than 2 times during the academic year
(59.3% never interacted with Mason Recreation), while 72.3% of off-campus students interacted
with Mason Recreation less than 2 times during the academic year (67.3% never interacted with
Mason Recreation).

BARRIERS PREVENTING OFF-CAMPUS STUDENTS


In the 2014-15 academic year, Mason Recreation interacted with 40.7% of the total
individual students who registered in at least one credit at the institution. The demographic of
female, off-campus students was identified by Mason Recreations Executive Director and
Assistant Director of Assessment as the largest market that could be targeted to increase
participation and facility usage.
Existing Research
Student usage of recreation facilities has also been positively tied to students retention
rates and cumulative Grade Point Average (GPA). Belch, Gebel, and Maas (2001) found that
campus recreation users had a slightly higher GPA than non-users, but that campus recreation
users persisted from first to second year at a rate of 71% versus only 64% for non-users.
More generally, students who are involved in 1-5 hours of on-campus activities have are
found to have a GPA that is 0.1 on a 4.0 scale higher than students who are not involved in oncampus activities (Zacherman & Foubert, 2014). Educationally purposeful activities outside of
the classroom can have an effect of increasing a students GPA but up to 10% (Kuh, Cruce,
Shoup, Kinzie, & Gonyea, 2008). Students who are engaged in campus activities also in also
reported having a higher sense of belonging on campus, which also leads to a higher persistence
rate through to graduation (O'Keeffe, 2013).
Piazza, Ode, Lowry, and Mudd (2008) looked at barriers that prevented students from
achieving the American College of Sports Medicines recommended minimum amounts of
moderate and vigorous physical activities per week and found, using a list of 15 pre-selected
barriers that participants rated as being a barrier on a 5-point Likert scale, that lack of time and

BARRIERS PREVENTING OFF-CAMPUS STUDENTS

lack of self-discipline were the top barriers for students who did not achieve the minimum
recommended amount of physical activity.

On campus quantitative research


A byproduct of the data results were that members of the divisions administration
viewed these results as showing that off-campus, female students were not being healthy and
were not leading active lifestyles. If this were true, it would go against the institutions strategic
goal of being a wellbeing institution.
Mason Recreations Executive Director and Assistant Director of Assessment believed
that this was not entirely true, and that off-campus, female students were being active, just not
with Mason Recreation. A quantitative survey was created in the fall of 2015 to be administered
to off-campus students via mobile devices on campus to attempt to prove this hypothesis.
The quantitative survey was administered on campus throughout various points of the
first two months of the fall 2015 semester on electronic devices. Most surveys were administered
along walkways that connected parking lots commuter students frequently used with the center
of campus by Recreation staff members who were identifiable by their name tags and apparel,
although some were administered at a student services fair at one satellite campus with no
residence buildings and others were administered in a student lounge at a second satellite
campus, and a small number were completed online. In total 332 surveys were started and 315
were completed. To ensure that the respondent lived off-campus they were first asked if they
lived off-campus before being given the electronic device to complete the survey, and were also
asked in the survey how far away from campus they lived. The results of 14 surveys were

BARRIERS PREVENTING OFF-CAMPUS STUDENTS

eliminated as a result. Participants were offered a bottle of water and a chance to win an iPad
mini for completing the survey. Participants were also asked if they were interested in
participating in a focus group to further explore this topic and, if they were interested, were
asked for their email address.
The results of the quantitative survey confirmed the hypothesis off-campus students
were in fact working out regularly, but not with Recreation. It also indicated that off-campus
students who used Recreation facilities, programs, and services, were not using them as their
only outlet, most were also working out elsewhere on top of their exercise routines on campus.
This was determined by asking respondents two questions: How many days in an average week
do you engage in at least 30 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity and How many
days in an average week do you engage in at least 30 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical
activity at a Mason Recreation facility. The question was developed based on the U.S.
Department of Health and Human Services 2008 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans
(2008) that recommends at least 30 minutes of moderate physical activity at least 5 times per
week OR 25 minutes of vigorous physical activity at least 3 times per week.
Of the 103 respondents who indicated that they did not use Mason Recreation facilities,
only 10 (9.7%) indicated that they typically did not achieve 30 minutes of moderate to vigorous
physical activity per week at all, while 56 respondents (54.4%) indicated that they engaged in at
least 30 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity on 3 or more days in an average week.
Of the Mason Recreation facility users, 113 of the 170 respondents (66.5%) engaged in 30
minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity 3 or more days in an average week, but only
75 respondents (44.1%) did so at the Mason Recreation facility. This indicated that even for the
off-campus students who were using Mason Recreation facilities, it was not their only outlet.

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Students who responded that they did not use Mason Recreation facilities were also asked
to identify the top 3 things that prevent them from using Mason Recreation facilities, programs,
and services, based on a list of 14 potential barriers. The top 5 responses chosen were: I
workout on my own (41.8% of respondents), I live too far from campus (35.9% of
respondents), I did not know about Mason Rec (30.1% of respondents), None of my friends
use Mason Rec (29.1% of respondents), and I dont have enough free time (26.2% of
respondents).
The quantitative survey results, along with the initial demographic report, showed a need
to further explore identifying the barriers that prevented off-campus students of both genders
from using Mason Recreation facilities for all of their workout activities due to the mix of
barriers that survey participants selected. Particular emphasis was put on identifying barriers that
prevented off-campus female students from using Mason Recreation facilities for all of their
workout activities.
Methods
The study was conducted at a large, suburban, public institution in the Mid-Atlantic
Region. It has one main campus and four satellite campuses. A phenomenological approach was
used in order to explore the lived experiences (Ravitch & Carl, 2016) of off-campus students
related to the barriers to participating in physical activity at on-campus recreation facilities that
they encounter.
Data was collected through three focus groups and one interview conducted with
currently enrolled students. Interviews were conducted until data saturation was reached and no
new themes were emerging (Ravitch & Carl, 2016). A total of 14 students were purposefully

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selected (Maxwell, 1996; Ravitch & Carl, 2016) and participated in the focus groups and
interview, 9 female, 5 male. 8 students were in their senior year, 3 were freshmen, 1 was a junior,
1 was in a masters program, and 1 was in law school. One participant was an international
student, while all others were domestic students. All were asked if they were an off-campus
student prior to being invited to participate and identified as such, although 2 later identified
themselves as living on-campus during the focus group itself.
Table 1
Demographic Information and Identifiers for Interviewees
Participant
Sex Year in Distance from Uses Mason
Identification
School home to main Recreation?
campus
A
F
Sr
Over 10 miles Yes
B
M
Prof.
6-10 miles
Yes
C
F
Grad
1-5 miles
No
D
F
Sr
6-10 miles
No
E
F
Sr
1-5 miles
Yes
F
M
Sr
Over 10 miles Yes
G
F
Sr
Over 10 miles Yes
H
M
Fr
6-10 miles
Yes
I
F
Fr
1-5 miles
Yes
J
F
Sr
On campus
Yes
K
F
Sr
On campus
Yes
L
F
Sr
Over 10 miles Yes
M
M
Fr
Over 10 miles No
N
M
Jr
1-5 miles
Yes

Domestic/
International
student
Domestic
Domestic
International
Domestic
Domestic
Domestic
Domestic
Domestic
Domestic
Domestic
Domestic
Domestic
Domestic
Domestic

Military
Affiliation
No
Yes
No
No
No
No
Yes
No
No
No
No
No
No
Yes

Participants were solicited based on having indicated that they were willing to participate
in a focus group in the quantitative survey (as well as in a second online survey administered on
campus in which 5 out of 828 respondents who identified themselves as off-campus students
who were non-Recreation users were asked if they were interested in participating in a focus
group). These students were emailed at the address they provided and asked to sign up for a
focus group time based on their availability. The email also indicated that free lunch or dinner

BARRIERS PREVENTING OFF-CAMPUS STUDENTS

(depending on the time of day) and a Mason Recreation t-shirt would be given to participants.
Due to a lower than anticipated sign-up rate from the 98 individuals who indicated they were
interested in participating, additional participants were also solicited by the researcher on campus
by asking students if they were an off-campus student and then inviting them to participate in a
focus group that same day.
The focus groups were conducted in meeting rooms on campus around a large circular
table. Two took place in a Recreation facility, while the third took place in the main student
union building. An interview was also conducted in the student union building meeting room as a
result of only one individual showing up for the interview. The focus groups each had four (two
groups) or five (one group) participants who attended. Participants were offered sandwiches or
pizza, depending on the time of day, and a bottle of water when they arrived at the focus group.
The focus groups and interview were conducted using a semi-structured method (Ravitch
& Carl, 2016) that included eight protocol questions that were developed by the researcher. The
semi-structured method was chosen as it offered the best opportunity to delve further into topics
that were identified through the organic nature of the four interviews. All of the interviews were
conducted by the same researcher. Prior to each interview, participants were informed that their
participation was voluntary and that they could choose to not answer a question or to leave at any
time. They were also informed that their identities would be kept confidential and any reports
based on the collected data would not identify them by name. At the end of each interview,
participants were given a Mason Recreation t-shirt as a thank you for their time.
Additionally, one observation was conducted on campus when a focus group participant
took part in a group walk on campus. The group walk, known as Walking Wednesday, took
place following the interview and was used to examine one of the identified themes of the

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interviews, the social factor as a motivator. The participant, a female student in her senior year
walked with a group of 10 other campus community members for about 30 minutes and
interacted with the other participants. The researcher observed this interaction and took notes on
the interaction with a pen and paper, which were then digitized into a Microsoft Word document
that was kept on the researchers password protected computer.
Data Analysis
All of the interviews were recorded using a digital recording application on the
researchers personal password protected cell phone. Following the interviews, the audio
recording digital file was downloaded onto the researchers computer, which was password
protected. The interviews were then transcribed verbatim into a Microsoft Word document that
was password protected and kept on the researchers password protected computer. Participants
were assigned a letter identifier in the transcripts, such as A, in order to protect their anonymity.
An open coding method was used by the researcher to identify emerging themes (Ravitch
& Carl, 2016). In the first round of coding, the transcripts were analyzed for initial themes that
developed in the 4 transcripts which related to the research question. A second round of coding
was then performed in which the researcher paid close attention for sections of the transcripts
which related to the themes that had emerged (Ravitch & Carl, 2016).
The themes that emerged from the transcripts were also compared to the barriers that
were identified in the quantitative survey to help validate the results as many of the themes were
similar to the barriers that were identified. The observation of a focus group participant
participating in the on campus walking activity also helped validate the data as it related to two
themes that had emerged in the transcripts.

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Results
The assessment of the transcripts identified 9 themes that emerged as barriers that prevent
off-campus students from using the Recreation facilities on campus more regularly, as well as 5
sub-themes. The themes were: intimidation factor of the facilities, with a sub-theme of lack of
knowledge of how to use equipment and of proper workout routines; social factor as a motivator,
with a sub-theme of military community; the availability of online resources; inconvenient
fitness class times with high costs, with a sub-theme of workouts that fit into breaks in class
schedules; distance from home to campus, with a sub-theme of transportation issues for students
with no cars/parking issues for students with cars; lack of permanent equipment/clothing storage
options on campus; running/walking as favorite activities with a lack of places to do it on
campus; isolation of the urban satellite campus; and lack of childcare options for students with
children.
Intimidation factor of the facilities
Based on the results of the quantitative survey, the intimidation factor was not anticipated
to be a key theme as only 6.8% of respondents identified it as one of their top 3 barriers
preventing them from using Mason Recreation facilities. However, the theme was prevalent in all
3 focus groups, particularly amongst females. In one group, all 3 females in attendance answered
yes in unison to the question Is it intimidating to come into the RAC?. Participant E
reported that she was unsure of how to use equipment and is afraid of hurting herself if she uses
the equipment improperly, saying I dont feel like I can do it myself, so she does not come to
the gym. K added People give up. C agreed, saying she would feel more comfortable if
there was someone to teach her how to use the equipment, but that she could not afford a
personal trainer. J added I would love to have like 1 to 2 times where a personal trainer can

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train me on what to do, but others in her group responded they cant afford to hire the personal
trainer at the current rates.
L, who stated that she went to the gym to lift and to run on the treadmill regularly,
noted a lot of girls are scared to go because of the intimidation of the guys that are thereI like
to get girls to come with me so that they are not intimidated. Its not right that they dont use the
equipment. She also added that the big guys who are into themselves are at the RAC, and they
look around and judge people, at least thats what it feels like. J and K agreed. B, a male
student, commented that the gyms were such a masculine environment, females do not feel
comfortable, but neither he, nor any of the other male participants, identified intimidation as a
barrier. E, J, and K all said that they found the Aquatic Center less intimidating as there
were smaller rooms with more community members at that facility. L believed the solution is to
teach them how in order to decrease the intimidation factor.
This flowed with the sub-theme of interview participants reporting a lack of knowledge
of how to use equipment or how to build an appropriate workout routine. A suggested an Intro
to Recreation course, which other students agreed would be useful in building upon the how
to theme, but that it should not stop there. Affordable classes on how to run, how to build
workout routines, and proper nutrition were also mentioned as being ways to stimulate
participation. E also indicated that she did not know if she could ask the fitness center
attendants for help, which echoed by other attendees. B indicated that he himself has had fellow
military members, when he was working out on base, come up to him and point out things he
was doing in the gym that could potentially lead to an injury, and he was thankful that they had
stepped in to help him. Participants in one group asked the interviewer if recreation staff
members in the fitness area are able to provide assistance, saying they did not know what the

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staffs role was. E commented I look around and am like, can I ask for help?. B believed
that staff should step in and assist anyone who is doing something that could injure themselves,
while L believed that many of the staff members did not know enough about proper techniques
and the equipment in the area they were supervising.
When the interviewer reminded participants that there are written and/or graphical
explanations on equipment that indicate how to use those pieces, they responded that looking at
those explanations enhanced the intimidation factor. L said If youre looking at the picture on
the equipment you think oh, what if people think I dont know how to use it?. J added Ive
felt that way a couple of times, while L added that she looks at the pictures and then uses the
elliptical because I know how that works. When presented with the idea of having videos
available on their mobile device to discretely show facility users how to use pieces of equipment,
all participants agreed that videos would be more useful than pictures or written explanation.
This led to a discussion of online resources, which will be explored in more detail.
Social factor as a motivator
The intimidation factor is real if you are not used to going to the gym; going with a
group or a friend really helps me. All three participants who identified themselves as affiliated
with the military indicated that this was a major motivating factor to working out. G indicated
that she is motivated to wake up and arrive on campus before 6am three days per week because it
is a group workout with ROTC. N works out with a group of 5 other military members every
morning at 7am, saying if I did not have them, I would definitely miss a few morning
workouts. B, an active duty military member, noted that in our (military) culture, fitness is
extremely important as active duty and reservists need to maintain their fitness level in order to
keep their job, so it encourages them to work out together. He likes to run with classmates, but

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has to make a decision to run on campus with people and have fun, or go home and avoid
traffic, but run alone.
Non-military participants, while agreeing that having a workout buddy was a motivating
factor, did not find it as easy to create the social motivator. Its hard finding friends who will go
with you said K. Participants believed that Recreation should help facilitate that connection
via a Facebook page or mobile phone application that helps connect students with other students
who are at a similar fitness level and who have similar fitness routines, favorite activities, and
schedules.
In the quantitative survey, 29.5% of respondents indicated that None of my friends use
Mason Rec was one of the top 3 things that prevented them from using Mason Recreation
facilities, programs, and services, and 18.1% of respondents selected My friends workout in
other facilities as a barrier. This matched the theme found in the interviews.
The observation of participant D taking part in the group walk on campus also helped
confirm the benefit of the social aspect. During the walk she spoke with other participants and
appeared to be having fun. Afterwards she reported that it made the walk much more enjoyable
being with others. Other participants in the walk talked about the group activity being a
motivating factor in ensuring they went out and walked on campus, even in inclement weather,
which the observed participant agreed could be a motivator for her as well.

Availability of online resources as a solution to intimidation and social barriers


All interview participants indicated that they at some point used online resources to find
information about campus recreation options, workout tips, or used applications on their phone

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that customize workouts. Many students use the recreation department website as a starting
point, but some stated that they used other university websites as a place to find out whats
going on. F and I both said they typically only look at the events calendar on their university
online portals home page. There appeared to be no central place where students thought they
could go to find the resources they needed for a healthy, active lifestyle. H, a freshman, said he
was overwhelmed in his first semester and had no idea where to look for information.
Students were also using online videos they found on YouTube and other websites to lead
them through workouts at home, most of which they use because they are free, versus paying for
a subscription to a website with videos. Other students use mobile applications that include
workout routines and how to videos. 20.4% of non-facility users on the quantitative survey had
indicated they typically use home video workouts.
Participants in the focus groups believed that mobile applications and videos could be
valuable in helping students find a workout buddy. L mentioned some of her classmates in a
business course had proposed a mobile application that would help match up individuals with
similar running styles, speeds, and schedules to help them run together. When presented with the
idea that instead of graphical instructions being on equipment, there was a code that could be
scanned to bring up a how to video on the students mobile device, all believed that this would
help reduce the intimidation factor. Videos are better than pictures. A did bring up issues with
Wi-Fi and cellular signal in some recreation facilities and mobile device compatibility issues for
students who cannot afford a late model device.
Inconvenient fitness class times with high costs

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Fitness classes were identified by participants as another potential way to overcome


social and intimidation barriers as the classes have an instructor directing the class and there are
other people present to help them push through when they want to give up. However, many of
the students said that the times classes are offered and the cost of some of the classes prevent
them from participating. This was a surprise as only 4.8% of respondents to the quantitative
survey had indicated that class times were not convenient for them.
Off-campus students plan their trips to campus around their class schedules so as to only
make one trip to campus. They look to fit a workout in during breaks in their class schedules,
particularly looking for the largest gap in their schedule. C, an international student in a
pathway program to upgrade her academic preparation, has a 2 hour break in the middle of her
day, but finds that course times do not line up with this gap. She attempted to rush to a course
one time, but arrived late and found the course was already full, so she never attempted to go
again. Other participants agreed that the classes are not offered at times they want.
The campus recreation department also has two tiers of fitness classes, some paid and
some free. The paid classes require students to purchase a semester long pass for $50. When
asked about it, most students did not know the difference. G and H said they did know about
the paid pass, but did not want to invest in the pass out of fear they would not get their moneys
worth due to not being able to attend classes as a result of the schedule.
The class instructor also played a role in students decisions to attend. F enjoyed Zumba
classes that the department offered, but stopped going when the instructor he liked began
teaching less often. E also agreed that the instructor affects how many classes she attends per
week.

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Distance from home to campus


As 35.9% of quantitative survey respondents indicated, the distance from their home to
campus presented an obstacle to them working out on campus. G, who lived over 10 miles
from campus, put it best when asked what the campus recreation department could do to get her
to use the facilities more often: Convince my parents to move closer to campus!. L, who also
lived over 10 miles from campus, similarly said she works out at a community center by her
house on days she does not have class: Why would I come all the way here?.
Parking was described as a nightmare by participant A and a reason she sometimes
stayed away from the gyms on campus. Other participants mentioned they keep their workout
gear in their car at one parking deck on campus, then walk back to the car, and then drive half a
mile to the recreation facility instead of considering the walk their warm-up.
This issue was not just a factor for students who lived over 10 miles away from campus,
but also for students who lived in the 1-5 mile range. Both C and I relied on public
transportation to get to and from campus, and since their buses came only once per hour they had
to fit a fitness class or a workout around both their academic schedule and the bus schedule.
Once they went home, they were not coming back. E had no car, but walks over a mile to and
from campus, considering it part of her workout.
Lack of permanent equipment/clothing storage options on campus
Coupling with the parking and transportation barriers, interviewees identified a lack of a
permanent place to store their workout gear as a barrier. The campus recreation facilities on the
campus have less than 30 lockers per gender that can be rented on a permanent basis on a yearly
basis and there is a waitlist to be able to get a locker. All other lockers are for day use only and

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are emptied each night. A, B, D, H, and I all explicitly indicated that it was a challenge
or ordeal to carry their equipment with them all day around campus. D stated that she just
does not do it and instead works out at home in her apartment complexs gym. F and I also
said they would wear the same clothes to class and to workout to avoid carrying an extra bag, but
that it was not very hygienic. N was the only participant who indicated that he had no issues
carrying his wet swimsuit around with him all day, pointing out the bulge the swimsuit and towel
were making in his backpack.
Students also left equipment in their cars and then had to go back to the car to get the
equipment before heading to the gym, but M reported that this was a major barrier for him as
by the time he went back to the car, he just figured he would go home instead.
Participants also indicated that they currently left their equipment unlocked in the facility
while they worked out. Im confident with the security that is there, which is practically none; I
just trust my fellow students. They did believe that having a single use keyless locker system
would make users feel safer and potentially increase usage in the facilities.
Running/walking as favorite activities with a lack of places to do it on campus
6 of the 14 interviewees identified running as a favorite activity. This matched a trend on
the surveys where 58.8% of respondents said they run as one of the physical activities they
currently take part in, and 54.7% said walking was one of their current physical activities.
A barrier that was indicated by participants is that there is no indoor track on campus that
is open to students on a consistent basis. E, I, J, and L stated they only run outside when
the weather is nice. E and I also shared that they live alone and, as females, do not feel

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comfortable running outdoors after dark, which during the academic year is most evenings when
they arrive home. As a result, they may use a treadmill or just not run.
Information on running on campus, including signed running trails, were identified as
being hard to find. There is no central place to find information on routes and when some
participants asked the staff at the recreation centers about trails they were given incorrect
information. B used Google Maps to identify trails around his campus, and then used a mobile
application to track his routes. He also added on the subject of running that, being in professional
school, he and his classmates need to do it to blow off steam and stay sane.
The observation of a participant doing a group walk also helped highlight that the group
was almost exclusively made up of faculty and staff members, and not students. The participant
mentioned that a similar student group would be a good motivator for some students.
Isolation of the urban satellite campus
B was a professional student who attended classes on the universitys urban satellite
campus, located 15 miles away from the main campus. Campus recreation does not operate on
that campus and there is no fitness facility or shower/locker room on the campus. The students
from the campus do have access to the gyms at the main campus, but the distance and feeling of
isolation made it very unlikely B and his classmates would use the facility. In a subsection of
the quantitative survey, of the 43 respondents from the urban satellite campus, 88.4% indicated
that the lack of a campus recreation facility was one of their top 3 barriers from using the
campus recreation facilities, programs, and services.

Lack of childcare options for students with children

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A and B both have a young child at home. A, being a single parent, said that after
classes and her part-time job on campus, she has no time to work out when she gets home as she
has to take care of her child until his bed time and then finishes her homework before going to
bed herself. B said he tries to workout by running near campus because I know if I get home
and my sons there, Im not getting away, because Im going to feel bad about it and hes going
to be totally wanting to come with me.
B said he overcomes this challenge by using an online yoga video series that is designed
for children so that he can do it with his son. A said that having a drop-in childcare rate on
campus, as the campuss daycare currently had no drop-in option, would enable her to workout.
Discussion and Implications
This study identified that there are many barriers that prevent off-campus students from
using their on-campus recreation facilities. Distance from campus, a theme that was identified in
both the quantitative survey and through the interviews, is a challenge that the campus recreation
department can do little about as it cannot make students move closer to campus. However, the
department can help students make the connection to see the walk from the parking lots to the
facilities as their warm-up/cool-down time, in the way that E viewed her walk to the gym.
Fitness class times can also be adjusted to better fit into the off-campus students
schedules. The classes can assist in providing how to instruction that the students desire at a
low cost, while providing the social motivational factor that students are also looking for. The
department can look at typical academic class times on campus and attempt to schedule fitness
classes around those blocks to enable students to attend more regularly in the class schedule gaps
they utilize for the physical activity times. A more challenging aspect would be for the

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department to schedule classes around public transportation schedules, as there are many routes
that come and go from campus at many different time increments.
The intimidation factor of using the gyms was a surprise theme that appeared in the focus
groups as it was not highly rated on the initial surveys. Teaching students how to properly
workout was a common theme in combating the intimidation factor. Technology, particularly
videos, was seen as a useful way that students believed the how to obstacle could be resolved as
it would allow students to discretely see how to use equipment and proper techniques without
appearing to be judged by other facility users. One time Intro to recreation courses, with
different themes (such as Intro to running, Intro to lifting, etc.) are another low cost potential
for the department to increase usage by students who feel they are intimidated by the facility.
Technology can again help solve the social aspect by helping connect students with
workout partners. As the departments Executive Director stated, Find something you like to do,
find someone to do it with, do it often. The department should help facilitate the social
connection to both decrease the intimidation factor, as students would have a buddy to go to the
gym with, but also by having that same buddy act as a motivator to keep them coming back to
the gyms.
The built environment of campus is a barrier to running and walking indoors on campus,
due to the lack of an indoor track, but the department can assist in identifying trails on campus
and providing online running and walking maps. The campus can also work with recreation
leaders from the local city and county governments to provide an integrated trail system to
enable walkers and runners to continuously find new routes to keep them interested. The
department can also recommend mobile applications that help students find trails and track their
performance.

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Focus on female students


In looking specifically at barriers that appeared to affect female students, the intimidation
factor was a major one. The male participants did not indicate any intimidation, yet every female
student reported feeling some sort of intimidation to using a facility. This identifies a major area
for the department to explore moving forward.
Female students were also more likely to identify taking part in a group fitness class as a
favorite activity and as a motivational factor to working out, although male students also
mentioned taking fitness classes for fun. The inconvenient class times and the cost of taking
premium classes could be seen as more of a barrier for female students as it was identified as
more of a primary workout activity for that gender. Female students also identified the weather
affecting their decision to run outside more than male students, to which the barrier of not having
an indoor track could affect female students at a higher level.
Limitations and potential future research areas
A limitation of this study started with the quantitative survey. It was administered on
campus, in person, by a staff member who could be identified as an employee of the recreation
department. Students who were not interested in physical activity would be more likely to not
answer the survey as they knew from the outset the subject of the survey. The invitation to
participate in a focus group was also limited in a similar method as individuals who were not
physically active in any way would be much less willing to talk about their workout habits,
particularly in a group setting. Additional limitations were the setting of the institution, which
has a large percentage of students who live off-campus who travel through a region with heavy

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22

traffic to arrive on campus. Barriers such as distance to campus would be much more prevalent
on this campus.
Future areas for potential research could include asking students to keep a workout log to
see if the workout habits they reported, such as the number of times per week they are engaged
in physical activity and the locations in which they do them, match up with their reported data.
Further exploring the barriers that on-campus students experience is another area worth
exploring further the two participants who later identified themselves as living on-campus
spoke deeply of the intimidation factor for female students.
The data from this study could also be compared to barriers that exist for high school
aged students to attempt to determine if barriers, such as intimidation, exist for younger students
as well in an attempt to teach students at a younger age how to use equipment to reduce the
intimidation barrier they experience as college students.

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