Rec Center committed to improving student well-being


Noora Neiroukh

The OU Rec Center Well-Being Suite.

In addition to the Oakland University Counseling Center (OUCC), another place for students to improve not just their mental health but also their physical health is the OU Recreation Center. 

While COVID-19 has caused the OU Rec Center to scale back some events or shifted them online, they have not given up on providing students with help.

When it comes to to student well-being, Cortney Heileman — health and wellness coordinator — has had to think outside the box to provide students with an outlet while keeping them safe. The majority of the programs have moved to an online format while events such as pet therapy remain in-person but with fewer people in attendance. 

According to Heileman, some students have found that the online format works a little better in terms of convenience. Another positive with virtual is the Rec is able to reach a wider group of people instead of limiting in-person events.

“I think right now in today’s day and age, considering we’ve had to deal with a virtual world for quite a long time now people are getting burnt out and they’re experiencing that virtual fatigue, so it can be challenging but … depending on what the program is, it’s going to be better in person, or sometimes virtually just really depends on the context,” Heileman said.

Some programs are trying to help break the stigma surrounding mental health, such as the Green Bandana Project and iPause. Both can be helpful for those who aren’t quite sure on where to start but also for those who want to help out. 

Employees at the Rec can now also enjoy free wellness coaching and other programs special to them, run by Caitlyn Hennings, the wellness and educational outreach coordinator. 

Hennings has incorporated the eight dimensions of wellness into the programs she offers. The webinar Grow Your Greens promotes environmental wellness as well as physical wellness.

“We have a lot of one time programming throughout the semester and then we have really large events,” Hennings said. “I try to offer different programs that will help their overall well-being.”

On the fitness side, the biggest shift was group exercise, with the Rec opting to do more outdoor activities — weather permitting — and virtual classes to allow people to stay safe while staying active. This has opened some eyes, as virtual classes may be here to stay.

Fitness Programs and Services Coordinator Hailey Forbes said, “I don’t think it’s going to go away. I think virtual fitness is here to stay for the foreseeable future.”

Virtual classes give people the chance to hop into a class when they don’t have a lot of time. Even if students aren’t interested in doing group classes, the fitness center is still open during online learning. 

The entire Rec Center has a common goal of providing a safe space, not just for students, but for everyone in the OU community to utilize. Whether that’s getting involved with these programs or stopping in after a long day to walk the track or play ping pong.

A goal for the future is to collaborate with other organizations within OU to help provide more opportunities for student engagement and to promote their well-being.

The best way to find out about new group exercise opportunities, personal training, student wellness programs and more is the OU RecWell portal. There is also an OU RecWell app that includes all the same features but on the go.

For more information on what OU is doing as a whole, visit the healthy campus section on You can also reach out to each respective coordinator to learn more about their area.