Linbo Fan / Sun Staff Photographer

Gyms can be found throughout Cornell's campus, including at Appel Commons. Unlike other schools, Cornellians must pay to get full access to these fitness centers.

February 27, 2020

Student Fitness, Health and Wellness: A Necessity or Luxury in the Eyes of the University?

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For those who continue to procrastinate on their New Year’s resolutions to work out more, Cornell has another barrier to using its fitness centers: price.

Student wellness comes at a cost at Cornell — the University charges students an annual fee of $159 or a semester fee of $100 to access the fitness centers, such as access to any exercise equipment, cardio machines or weights.

The membership includes access to all five fitness centers and group fitness classes. Non-members are also provided with some free wellness services such as nutrition or fitness consultations, counseling to quit smoking and other programs dedicated to student wellness.

There are four gyms spread throughout campus: Helen Newman and Appel are located on North Campus, Teagle is on Central and Noyes sits in West Campus.

In the Ivy League, Cornell is not unique in charging its students for an annual or semester-based gym membership. Columbia University and The University of Pennsylvania also charge their undergrads for access. Columbia prices its membership at $247 for the spring semester pass, while Penn’s fee is $334 for the year.

However, other universities like Harvard, Yale, Princeton, Brown, Dartmouth and MIT offer undergraduates free access to their fitness centers.

For many students, Cornell’s gym fee deters them from utilizing any of the University’s facilities. Craig Schulman ’22 said he neglects going to the gym because of the hefty fee.

“[It’s] why I don’t have a membership. A lot of my friends at other schools aren’t charged for the gym and $159 is a lot of money.”

Lance Rombro ’23 also voiced his annoyance.

“It seems unreasonable that we attend such a prestigious and well-endowed institution, yet the University makes working-out and student wellness a luxury,” Rombro said.

However, Cornell does offer some costless options through its “Fitness for Free” programs. programs. One of these options is that students can access Appel, Helen Newman or Noyes without charge on Friday and Saturday evenings, but a swipe-in is required at any other time during the week.

Students can also play basketball, table-tennis and badminton at Noyes and Helen Newman, or take a free PE class.