A Brief History of Member Appreciation Month


Marie VanBuskirk, Coordinator of Student Development, takes us through the history of Member Appreciation Month.

Though the Rec appreciates its members during all months of the year, the official Member Appreciation Month is currently under way! Throughout the entire month of February, keep a look out for the ways we’re showing our appreciation. Members will have the opportunity to sign up to win gift cards from places like Whole Foods, Nike and the OU Golf Course. Also, if someone at the Welcome Center asks you to pop a balloon, you’re not part of some weird social experiment; the balloons are filled with prizes like vouchers for food and coffee on campus and free guest passes to the Rec.

Member Appreciation Month, which started as a small observance, has turned into a celebration packed with more giveaways, prizes and appreciation than ever before. This evolution is due largely to Marie VanBuskirk, our Coordinator of Student Development and creator of Member Appreciation Month.

The original Membership Appreciation Month, which took place in 2005, was on a much smaller scale than it is today. The hard economic times during this period forced many people to give up their gym memberships. To show the Rec’s appreciation for those who stuck around, Marie created Member Appreciation Month. Some of the events in the early days of the annual celebration included employees nominating their favorite members (I wonder if any members campaigned heavily for the honor), and hiding prizes in random lockers. Through Member Appreciation Month, Marie was determined to make sure members felt like they were part of the Rec family.

Based on what Marie has been witness to during her 10 years at the Rec, I’d say she has succeeded in that goal. Marie has seen members’ kids grow up, has seen newly engaged members working out to fit into their wedding dresses/tuxes, and has seen people retire from their jobs at OU only to keep working their tails off in the Rec. Marie has a special fondness for the retired Rec members. Marie says if you ask them why they still work out on a college campus, they say that it helps them to stay young by working out around college kids. It’s also no unusual sight for Marie to notice some of the retired members giving the college students tips about their futures – and maybe fitness advice too!

Working at the Rec and interacting with its members has allowed Marie to meet many people she would not usually have been able to meet, such as Deans, retired staff members, and OU Alumni. Like many of the Rec’s employees, she notices when certain dedicated members miss a work out, and is always interested to hear what members are up to in their lives, even if it not related to fitness.

So if you’re a member at the Rec, here’s another big “thank you:”


And don’t forget: Member Appreciation Month is going on now so make sure you stop in and see how the Rec is working to unite its employees and patrons into – as Marie puts it – one big family.


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