MU Recreation App

Monmouth Recreation App Changes Gym Experience

A free Monmouth Recreation app that gives the campus community the ability to schedule workouts and view the availability of exercise equipment through their mobile devices is now available for download. The app was released on Jan. 30 through a contract between the University and fitDEGREE, a recreational software company.

The app offers live occupancy counts, and after an update on Feb. 15, the number of cardio machines occupied. It also shows whether or not the indoor track and areas of Boylan Gymnasium are being used at any given minute. Additional features include the ability to check into the fitness center, view the hours of operation, see and sign up for upcoming group classes. Users are able to interact with other users, posting on the fitFeed, and direct message.

According to Nick Dennis, CEO of fitDEGREE, the app saw over 200 downloads in the first couple of days simply by word of mouth.

Dennis, a former alumnus, contacted Christian Esola, the campus’ Fitness and Wellness Coordinator, during the fall semester.  “Monmouth is one of our most successful schools so far. Christian and I were pleasantly surprised at how fast the students adopted the app.”

According to Esola specific terms of the agreement, and the cost of the APP cannot be disclosed as per the request of fitDEGREE.

“Our goal was to streamline everything about how we use the fitness center[…]and make the student experience more efficient and enjoyable,” said Esola. “The fitness center gets extremely crowded; we all know that. So, being able to get a live look at just how crowded the areas are, and also an hour by hour breakdown, was something we thought students would be inclined to use.”

The team at fitDEGREE has been working on similar software since May 2016. It was first introduced in Sept. at Rowan University, followed by the University of West Florida, the University at Albany, and now Monmouth University.

“I think it’s great,” said John Jackman, the Director of the Fitness Center. “It helps us utilize the use of the Fitness Center more efficiently. It’s helpful to the busy student that wants to check when a good time would be maybe when the FC is a little less busy so he or she can use their time and effort more efficiently and productively. It’s a win win.”

Brandon Geier, a freshman marine biology student appreciates the app. He said, “I like that it lets me know the best times to go to the fitness center so I can see what’s available.”

Jennifer Urmston, a senior fitness instructor in the fitness center, said, “It’s getting everyone more connected by providing information about what’s going on in the fitness center on this social media-style app. I think it will be great for encouraging more people to come out to the gym, fitness classes, and just to get involved too,” she said.

While Urmston hasn’t seen a huge increase in attendance yet in her yoga classes, she has noticed many positive reactions to the app. She said, “I think having the app will remind people that classes are going on, so instead of having to look back through their emails they can just check the app. I’ve also overheard a lot of people talking about it, and they all seem to really like it.”

Some of the apps features depends on employees of the center. Jill Murphy a a  junior tv/radio communications major, and a desk assistant in the fitness center, said that every 30 minutes the desk assistant counts how many cardio machines are being used and how many people are in the free weight area and puts it into a system that creates the percentage of how full the free weight area is.

“The feedback has been tremendous so far,” said Esola. “Gym-goers are frequently checking the occupancy levels to find the best times to work out, our group fitness instructors have streamlined their sign-in process, making their classes much more time efficient and effective, and we are noticing an overall spike in group fitness participation due to the simplicity of signing up for classes as well as being able to invite friends.”

Despite its growing popularity, there have been some criticisms of the app. Raman Lakshmanan, an adjunct computer science and software engineering professor, was informed of the app by a student, and downloaded it from the app store.

Lakshmanan said that while it is a good idea to have mobile apps specifically for the university, they should come from Monmouth students rather than outside companies. However, Lakshmanan said, “the gym app is a good start given that students get most, if not all, of their information on mobile devices.”

Esola and the team at fitDEGREE are continuously working to improve the app. He said, “We are closely listening to feedback from students, instructors, et cetra to make the user experience the best it can be.”

IMAGE TAKEN by Lauren Niesz