Summertime Outdoor Recreation

Today is April 6 and it is still overcast, cold, and windy in Michigan. How many sunny days do Michigan residents actually get? Based on studies from, Michigan averages about 180 sunny days per year, which is lower than the average state. While there’s a higher percentage of sunny days between the months of May and September, weather plays a big role in our physical activities. Only the brave set outdoors to run during blizzards or rainy weather! What we don’t seem to get during non-summer seasons is the sun beaming down or the fresh air keeping us cool during our runs or sports games. Summertime in Michigan means utilizing the sun and beautiful weather to it’s full advantage! Believe it or not, outdoor recreation activities benefit our social, emotional, and intellectual well-being, along with our physical well-being.

According to, “People who exercise regularly tend to do so because it gives them an enormous sense of well-being. They feel more energetic throughout the day, sleep better at night, have sharper memories, and feel more relaxed and positive about themselves and their lives. And it’s also powerful medicine for many common mental health challenges.” These benefits are amplified with safe levels of sun exposure, which is one of the main reasons I savor every minute of my outdoor workouts. With sunshine comes increased production of vitamin D, melatonin and happier moods. I always keep a bottle of sweat-proof sunscreen or a hat in my gym bag, taking extra precaution if I am spending more than thirty minutes in the sun.

If you live within driving distance to Oakland University in Rochester, MI, or any nearby college campus, be sure to keep the outdoor amenities in mind. The weather is slowly changing, and the opportunity will come about soon! Here is some information on how I utilize my collegiate campus to the fullest during the few months of sunshine.

What is the Outdoor Complex?

Oakland University Recreation and Well-Being (Rec Well) maintains an outdoor complex which includes the super-field lined for different sports, turf fields, softball field overlays, tennis courts, an outdoor track, golf course, and a support building. These are located past the recreation building and across from the George T. Matthews Apartment complex. The operational season starts on April 1 and ends October 31 of each year. 



Playing Your Favorite Outdoor Sports

Being an avid tennis player since a young age, I love to gather a group or play one-on-one on the tennis courts behind the track. The support building will especially come in handy, with a $1 tennis racquet rental for the one who forgets their racquet. Soccer balls, footballs, and frisbees are available for checkout as well. One of the reasons I have stayed so loyal to the great game of tennis is because of the social benefits. Two or more people are always needed, and it is the type of sport that can be casually taken up or played very seriously. You can start at any age, and only get better with practice! The outdoor complex has 8 courts that are open from dawn until dusk. I always find myself getting together with some friends to play during the summer.


Switch Up Your Running Routine

To stay fit and have fun during the summer, I also tend to switch up my running routine. Running indoors on the treadmill can be very monotone and boring. It is so hard to stay motivated when you are not having fun! With the outdoor track and trail routes available, there are endless opportunities to head outdoors for your summer runs. According to, the difference in terrain and wind speed, uphills and downhills, and various muscle activations are just a few of the small things that make a huge difference when it comes to running outside versus on a treadmill.


My running routine varies and ends up being very fun with the outdoor complex. I usually use the outdoor track for sprinting, and even sometimes create mini circuits with the 70 yard by 120 yard marked soccer field inside the track, sprinting from line to line and seeing how fast I can go. I even recreate the stair climb machine with the bleachers, running up and down the steps as fast as I can. Rec Well’s outdoor complex also has its own running/walking routes. The 2.3 mile loop, 4.3 mile loop, or 6.5 mile loop are great scenic routes for those inclined to have a run or hike with a view. It is not rare for the light 2.3 mile loop to be my cool down after running miles of sprints.



Getting creative with the outdoor complex is not hard. It is almost irresistible to create new exercises; I definitely let my imagination take control. Whether it is a competitive game of tennis, variety of sprinting, or a relaxing walk, the amenities of the outdoor complex will always remain a staple of my summer activities. I highly encourage students to consider the possibilities of creating new memories using Rec Well’s outdoor amenities, all while soaking up some vitamin D and dwelling in the benefits of healthy physical activity. 


Enhance your Rec Center experience with Member Services

thumb_img_0050_1024The member services desks at the Rec Center and Recreation and Athletic Outdoor Complex (RAOC) are primary resources for students, faculty and staff to rent or buy equipment to assist with and optimize their workouts.

“Member services within Recreation and Well-Being is here to enhance any patrons experience, whether that’s scanning them into the building, making sure they have active memberships, selling new memberships or selling them lockers,” Coordinator of Member Services, Bill Singleton, said. “And answering questions about our programs and services, that’s our biggest thing.”

Singleton explained that just under 30 student employees work in the three areas of member services – the welcome center on the upper level of the Rec Center, the service desk at the lower level and the service window at the RAOC. He described the staff as a “jack of all trades,” because they know a little bit about everything and can always direct people in the right place.

“One of the things we’re stressing this year with our staff as far as customer service is creating wow moments for people, so making sure we answer any questions they have and if we can’t figure it out, going one step further to find that answer,” Singleton said. “We pride ourselves on that customer service aspect and making sure we’re that touch point for everyone that comes into the building.”

Rec Center members may not necessarily see the fitness, aquatic or intramural staff every time they enter the building or outdoor complex, but they will most likely see or interact with someone from member services. Singleton knows the importance of this, and that’s why member services focuses so heavily on making sure members have a positive experience.

In addition to customer service, member services also has items patrons can rent or buy. Members must have their ID to rent out and return items, and all rented items must be returned back to the service desk by the time it closes.

Singleton said popular items that the member services desk at the Rec Center rents out are foam rollers, yoga mats and basketballs, but they also rent out TRX cables, locks and lockers, and additional workout equipment.

While the welcome center is open during all hours of operation of the Rec Center, the service desk and RAOC service window aren’t. The service desk opens at 7:30 a.m. until the building closes from Monday through Friday, and on the weekend, it’s open the entire time the building is open. The service window at the RAOC is open from 2 to 10 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 2 to 8 p.m. on Friday and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on the weekend. The service window will close for the season on Oct. 31.

Below is a full list of all rental and retail items offered at the Rec Center and RAOC.


Men’s/women’s basketballs

Soccer balls



Table tennis paddles

Full and half foam rollers

Jump ropes

Weight belts

Dip belts

Bosu balls

Resistance bands/tubes

Stability discs

TRX suspension sets

TRX workout binder

Life jacket

Aqua joggers


Yoga mats

Hand paddles

Boxing gloves

Sliding disks



Racquetball racquets*

Badminton racquets*

Day locks*


Soccer balls



Giant Jenga



Tennis rackets**

Disc golf set**

*items cost 50 cents to rent

**items cost $1.00 to rent


1-month half locker $5.00

1-month full locker $10

4-month half locker $15

4-month full locker $30


Swim Essentials

Nose clip $2.50

Silicone goggle strap $2.75

Swim cap $5.00

Bungee goggle strap $5.50

Speedo sprint goggles $10.00

Force swim gloves $10.00

Workout Essentials

Socks (men’s and women’s) $1.50

Workout towel $1.50

White T-Shirt (medium and large) $3.75

Athletic tape $4.50

Ear buds $5.00

Yoga socks $10.00

Blender bottle $10.00

Just The Basics

Hair tie $0.25

Table tennis ball $0.50

Water $1.50

Gatorade (multiple flavors) $1.75

Muscle Milk (multiple flavors) $2.00

Clif Builder’s Bar (multiple flavors) $2.00

Bath towel $6.00

What is social well-being?

14114816_1407677019246722_7513876393724031527_oA person’s ability to establish and maintain healthy relationships, as well as socialize and interact with others, is the basic concept of social well-being. The prime focus of achieving this dimension of well-being is creating positive relationships with family, friends, coworkers and classmates.

Stephanie Willis, Wellness and Educational Outreach Coordinator at Oakland University Recreation and Well-Being, explained that for her, social well-being is just getting involved in different activities or conversations, whether it’s with her family, friends or coworkers.

“That’s just for me personally,” she said, “but it can vary depending on who you ask.”

Being involved and having strong relationships is important to health because it provides people with the ability to connect and relate to others, increasing their sense of belonging and inclusion in society. It also increases a person’s feeling of support from others when they experience and strengthen these connections.

When people feel as though they are connected to society and their peers, this can improve things like overall happiness and self confidence. Having the ability to create this connection is what social well-being is.

Besides building a strong social support network, social well-being also includes participating in healthy communication, handling interpersonal conflict in a healthy and respectful way and interacting with a diverse array of people from different cultures, backgrounds and those who hold different beliefs.

“Even though the basis of social well-being is getting involved, we also recognize that you need time to yourself because that’s how you can then be your best self when you’re around others,” Willis said. “Taking the time to regroup if you have a stressful week, or doing something relaxing to rejuvenate, it’s so important.”

Willis explained that utilizing alone time to allow yourself to destress will help set yourself up for successful social interactions because it will make it easier for your true self to come out.

Since social well-being is achieved in unique ways for each individual, there is a variety of ways to promote and improve it.

Getting involved in campus organizations/groups, along with volunteering and/or completing community service is one way. This brings together people with shared interests, making interaction easier.

“I think social well-being is promoted in almost everything we do in the Rec Center,” Willis said. “It’s just really engaging with others that you might not know or participating in events we offer. It doesn’t have to be one specific way, there’s so many different things.”

One example of a way OU Rec Well promotes social well-being is simply by encouraging people to come to the Rec Center. Once they’re in, there are many opportunities for involvement, like participating in club and/or intramural sports, going to a GroupX class or attending a program like a Lunch and Learn or Walk with Campus Leaders. These experiences offer opportunities to interact with many people and potentially make new friends.

The Recreation Leadership Council (RLC) is another opportunity for the campus community to get involved and improve their social well-being. The organization provides members with quality leadership, networking and professional development opportunities not only in the Rec Center, but also beyond, helping mold members into well-developed professionals. RLC is open to anyone to join.

Willis’ advice for those wishing to improve their social well-being is to start where they’re comfortable because that makes it easier to branch out. A good starting point is joining a student organization or simply talking to someone new in class.

“Find different things to get involved with and look for individuals that you share a similar interest with,” Willis said. “Finding that common ground makes it a little bit easier, especially if you’re introverted, to put yourself out there.”

BarBelles – The Women who Lift

Oakland University Recreation and Well-being is providing a beacon of hope for thousands of women on campus who wish to improve their health through strength training.  This new program known as the BarBelles is designed to help educate women on how to effectively and safely train with weights.

Eileen McNally, the woman at the forefront of the BarBelles program, aims for this to be a safe place for women to gain insight on how to train confidently and just be comfortable in their own skin.

“BarBelles reminds us that our bodies are not who we are,” says McNally.  “Our bodies are just containers that hold something greater.”

McNally goes on to say that BarBelles will help show women that their purpose on earth is not to look perfect, but rather gain the inner confidence to help share compassion and support to the surrounding community and other women.

The intimidation exists when women fear they are being judged and walk into the gym feeling as though they don’t belong.  Too often women face this dilemma as they enter the one place where they can depend on to squash their insecurities but end up too self conscious to face them head on.

Bound by their lack of knowledge and their fear to go up and ask someone to educate them, women simply stay away and avoid the situation entirely.

Realizing the parallels between weight lifting intimidation and the dropping numbers of women who enter the gym, the BarBelle program addresses this challenge specifically.  They will give women a second chance and an opportunity to experience a worry-free workout environment.  Reclaiming their strong and healthy bodies one curl at a time.

Striving to build the inner and outer beauty, the BarBelles use liberating techniques and focus on organically forming powerful connections.

As McNally puts in nicely, “BarBelles will create a community that allows girls to be their true authentic self.”

More information regarding the BarBelles meeting time and place will be available shortly.

Feature photo courtesy of

OU Rec Well’s H2O Stations are taking Campus by Storm

The days of bland water are over, thanks to the introduction of fruit and veggie infused water stations set up around campus.  In the midst of temps reaching the mid-90s, making the thermometer sweat, it is too easy to become dehydrated. Thankfully Stephanie Willis, Wellness and Educational Outreach Coordinator for OU Rec Well, is making it hard to succumb to the sweltering heat.  She has provided up to 228 gallons of water in as little as five weeks to 15 departments across campus.

We are hearing praise from those who simply don’t like the taste of water, who now have options other than sugary juice or soda to quench their thirst and cravings.

Four different “H2O stations” were available that circulated through different departments across campus.  Up to nine different flavor combinations were created including, strawberry and mint, watermelon and mint, orange, and strawberry and blueberry just to name a few.  And each one was a hit.

Willis, the woman behind the program as well as the distributor, is becoming a beacon of hope around campus.  She provides each department with a station for 3 days and rotates in new flavors each day before she moves on to the next department.

“I’ve had staff start clapping and cheering when I walk in with the water dispensers,” said Willis.  “I’ve had people run up to me to refill their water bottle before I took the dispenser away.”

With the fruit and veggie infused water, individuals are benefiting from vitamins and minerals providing a great detox all the while staying hydrated. It’s a win-win-win.

With such a positive reception to this program, it will be extended through August and potentially re-established next summer.

This year departments interested in having the H2O Stations were able to sign up at the Poker Walk, however if we continue this program next summer, we will be doing online requests based on a first come, first serve basis for those who want to put a spin on their traditional water cooler.

Great job staying hydrated everyone!

2016 Brooksie Way Training Program

Rec Well is seeking Oakland University employees who want to take their running to the next level.  We’re offering two training programs geared towards the 5k and the 10k distances in preparation for the 8th annual HAP Brooksie Way race this Fall.

As an outdoor runner, no one is more geared up for the summer season.  If you long for the warm sun on your shoulders, the breeze cooling your face and exploring the beautiful trails of Michigan, join the club.  Running is not only an inexpensive way to relax and stay healthy, it can curb your competitive streak.

For as long as running shoes hit the pavement, there have been races to accommodate them.  This year’s HAP Brooksie Way race is no different.  Hosting a 5k, 10k and a half marathon, the races will begin right on the campus of Oakland University on Saturday, September 25th.

Training for the 10k race will kick things off, June 30th.  This program lasts for 10 weeks, meeting once a week.  This progressive training program is designed for runners who have marginal experience.  It is recommended that runners are able to run at least 2 miles before the start of the program.  Meetings will be held at Oakland University’s Rec Well at 6:30 pm.

Even if you’re newer to the sport, we have a program for everyone.

The 5k training begins on August 9th at the Auburn Hills Community Center at 6:30 pm.

Trainers are ready to help you reach the next milestone in your training.  So put a spin on this summer and push yourself past your limits during the most renowned and charitable health and fitness event in Oakland County.

For more information and registration, click here.

OU Rec Student Employees Graduate from The Emerging Recreation Leadership Program

When Marie VanBuskirk coordinated the Emerging Recreation Leadership Panel, she was selective in the recruiting process.  The goal was to find students who have demonstrated natural leadership skills and were willing to further their development as a young professional.  Each participant was required to fill out a survey discussing their accomplishments, why they thought this program would benefit them, and how they will make the most of each session.  Fourteen students were ultimately chosen to participate.  In order to graduate from the program, students are required to conduct a presentation early April 2016, demonstrating how the program impacted them.

The accepted participants were a combination of Rec Center staff from member services, aquatics, fitness and several building managers who devoted high quality service to the Rec.  Participants have spoken very highly of the program, utilizing this experience as a launching pad to begin building their professional careers.  Speakers were a diverse group of Oakland University alumni who are specialists in their respective career fields.  The variety of presentations and experiences brought forth by each speaker, challenged students to look at the path of success from all angles.  The program demonstrated the importance of adaptability and perseverance and the positive outcomes that stemmed from combining the two.  This experience really hit home when speakers shared their personal struggles and setbacks.  Through each speaker’s authenticity and openness, they provided participants a look inside their journey of rebuilding themselves, and discovering their purpose and value within the community.

Taylor James was one of the few who was accepted into the program.  She was interested in the program to build her confidence and approach professionals to discuss her career goals.  As a health science major, she felt a strong connection with one speaker in particular. She recalls how Simon Keleel, a nursing professional and OU Alumni impacted her with his story of overcoming obstacles.  Having failed his board exam at first, he preached tenacity and utilizing other strengths of networking to achieve his purpose despite taking a different route.

Taylor reflected back on the how the program had benefited her as a student branching out into her career.

“The program pushed me to not be afraid to make those relationships,” says Taylor.  “It helped me communicate better with those who have higher positions and to not be intimidated by their status.”

Some students even received valuable resources to take home as a thanks for engaging in the presentation.  Mike Binge was the first to answer a question during Derek Dickow’s presentation and received the book “The Art of Selling yourself” by Harry Beckwith and Christine K. Clifford, which had been a huge influence for Dickow.  Binge was interested in the program in order to develop his skills as an aspiring history teacher.  For Binge, this program worked to develop his leadership skills necessary to conduct a successful classroom environment.  He values how the program featured a wide range of speakers, from nurses, to a journalist, and even the mayor of Rochester.  This has provided Mike with an enriching experience that he is able to channel into other parts of his life.

“I have learned many skills that I can bring to other things that I do such as my fraternity and future career,” says Mike.

Each student who had the privilege of attending this program was able to witness the stories of struggle and overcoming challenges.  The authentic lessons shared by those who discovered their purpose through relentless pursuit, helped graduating students realize that there is more than one way to achieve success.

This program premiered in October 2015 making this the first of many to come.  Students who graduate from the program this year, will return to mentor the second year’s promising, young leaders.