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Sense of Belonging and Other Social Outcomes Tied to Frequency of Use at the George Street Fitness Center


If you spend any time at all on a college campus you are sure to hear talk of learning and other developmental outcomes that occur outside of the classroom.  Is this just idealistic banter or is it possible that some of this learning does take place, and of all places at the George Street Fitness Center (GSFC)?  You may be delightfully surprised by the findings of a recent investigation.

Having previously examined College of Charleston students enrolled in our group fitness classes and finding measurable improvements in various components of physical fitness, it was time to direct attention to another side of student wellness, that belonging to the social domain.  Intramural sports and other fitness programs offer an important avenue for student interaction. This interaction can translate into strong development of social skills, integration into the university and even a higher retention rate among students that frequently participate in these activities (Belch, Gebel and Maas, 2001).

What prompted this investigation was a disappointing finding that over several semesters a large number of students visited the GSFC just one or two times over the course of a semester.   For the first seven weeks of the spring 2021 semester, 1119 different students visited the GSFC.  Of this total, 430 students came just once or twice during these first seven weeks.

That statistic begs the larger question about what is lost for those not returning.  Does participation in the activities at the university fitness center help shape certain social-emotional outcomes that are considered critical in one’s personal development?  Moreover, is there a difference to be found between groups based on their frequency of use of the university fitness center?  Sense of belonging, social bonding, self-confidence, and the ability to interact with peers were among the 10 social behaviors compared.

Belch, H.A., Gebel, M., & Maas, G.M. (2001). Relationship between student recreation complex use, academic performance, and persistence of first-time freshmen. NASPA Journal, 38(2), 254–268.



Email surveys totaling 1008 were sent to the population of students, N=1119, who visited the GSFC at least one time from the start of the spring semester through February 28.  The returned surveys, n= 110, equated to a 10.9% return rate.

The survey contained 17 questions, with numbers 1-13 using a 5-point Likert scale for scoring: 1= strongly agree, 2= agree, 3= unsure, 4= disagree, and 5= strongly disagree.  Questions 1-10 focused on the individuals’ social attributes, questions 11-13 evaluated the respondent’s connection to the university and the GSFC, and the remaining questions asked for personal information.

Table 1.  Survey Questions.  n=110. Mean SD
1.  The George Street Fitness Center, or GSFC for short, helped me create a strong emotional tie at the College of Charleston. 2.91 1.09
2.  The GSFC is essential in creating a social bonding experience. 3.15 1.20
3.  I feel more responsible toward the College of Charleston as a result of my participation at the GSFC. 2.95 1.19
4.  My ability to interact with new people improved as a result of my participation at the GSFC. 3.24 1.23
5.  My overall happiness improved largely due to my participation at the GSFC. 2.06 1.07
6.  My self-confidence improved as a result of my participation at the GSFC. 2.02 0.99
7.  My leadership ability improved as a result of my participation at the GSFC. 3.25 1.09
8.  My trust in peers increased due to my participation at the GSFC. 3.11 1.06
9.  Participation at the GSFC improved my sense of belonging here at the College of Charleston. 2.71 1.14
10.  My overall college experience has been enhanced as a result of participation at the GSFC. 2.29 1.10
11.  The GSFC was a major attraction when choosing universities to attend. 3.59 1.20
12.  I have considered leaving the College. 3.88 1.31
13.  One primary reason I have not left the College is the GSFC. 3.89 1.03


Measure 1:  The null hypothesis was there was no difference between the population mean and that of the sample group for each of the 10 social outcomes listed in the survey.  A t-test was run for each of the survey questions.   The alpha level for determining significance was p<.05.  The degrees of freedom= 109.   Calculated t-scores above 1.99 permitted the null hypothesis to be rejected.

Of the ten questions related to social behaviors, these four outcomes showed a significant increase attributable to the students’ participation in activities held at the GSFC.

Social Outcome
Question 5 overall happiness. -9.19
Question 6 self-confidence. -10.44
Question 9 sense of belonging. -2.67
Question 10 overall college experience. -6.74


Measure 2:  Is there a difference in these social outcomes between the two user groups based on frequency of use in such a short period?  From the population of infrequent users, those visiting 2 or fewer times, N=430, a sample group was formed from those returning a survey, n=42.   The frequent users group was set using 10 or more visits for inclusion.  The population for frequent users with 10 or more visits, N=310, allowed the formation of a sample group, n=45, from those returning a survey.

“Sense of belonging” was the item that held the most interest to this investigator.  Did it differ between the two groups?  A statistically significant result was found for “sense of belonging” for the frequent users group (M=2.22 , SD=0.927 ) compared to the infrequent users group (M=3.29 , SD=1.24 ), t(85) = 4.56, p<.05 indicating the frequent users had a stronger “sense of belonging” than did the infrequent users group.

These other social behaviors were compared between groups and showed statistically significant results with the frequent users scoring higher on these items.  The alpha was set at p<.05.  The degrees of freedom were 85.  The critical t-value used to reject was 1.99.

Question Social Outcome
Question 1 strong emotional tie. 3.60
Question 5 overall happiness. 4.66
Question 6 self-confidence. 4.71
Question 8 trust in peers. 4.00
Question 9 sense of belonging. 4.56
Question 10 overall college experience. 4.56



Perhaps the term “Center” has dulled over the years to the point it simply means another facility.  The GSFC is in every sense a center of the campus world for numerous students who avail themselves of its opportunity for activity, fun, and fitness, and in return, their personal “center” is enhanced.  The data quantify something that for the most part persons were left to comment using broad generalizations.  Now it can be said with greater confidence that a number of social development outcomes found within our student base are improved through their active participation at the GSFC.  It also leads to a goal to redirect our infrequent users to the GSFC in hopes of helping them gain that sense of belonging.

How COVID Impacted Physical Activity Levels in 2020

As we start to see a glimmer of hope that the despair and catastrophic loss caused by this dreadful virus is on the wane, national associations are beginning to quantify and report the impacts along various segments of our lives.

Last March, groups such as our campus recreation program were all trying desperately to find ways to continue to offer programming, especially fitness programming, using a largely untried virtual format.  While we improved considerably in our delivery since that time, did it help persons during this period?

Recent research by the National Recreation and Park Association revealed a few outcomes worth noting, especially given our primary field of interest is physical activity and recreation.  They reported that 33 percent of adults in this country upped their physical activity during this time.  On the other hand, and not surprising, forty-six percent showed a decrease in their physical activity.  Another 20 percent claimed no change in their physical activity.

A short version of the report is provided at the link above.  And for a parting thought, “Today is a good day to start adding physical activity to your lifestyle.”


National Rec Day is February 22

“Leave all the afternoon for exercise and recreation, which are as necessary as reading.  I will rather say more necessary because health is worth more than learning.”   — Thomas Jefferson

Stay tuned to the CRS social media sites for events we will hold as we join university rec departments around the country in celebration of this important day.  The College continues to be an institutional member of the National Intramural-Recreational Sports Association, NIRSA, now for over 40 years.

New Year, New Fitness Plans?

Call it convenient if you like, but the World Health Organization recently issued an update to its longstanding physical activity guidelines.  With many of us considering new approaches to our daily regimen at the start of a new year, these guidelines may come as good news.

The revised message says that all activity counts toward your daily exercise expenditure.  Cast aside those older ideas where you traveled to a workout center and then undertook a 45-60 minute workout.  That, in and of itself, is one reason persons let slip their exercise plans — the time it took.  Now whether it is a 10-minute walk to get from behind your desk or a spontaneous dance session alone in your office, these all count toward your daily minimum.  Sure there is a bit more to it than that, but it is within your reach.

This short page includes a couple of videos worth taking a quick glance.  Our hope is this will be enough to propel you forward.  If you’d prefer to read from the World Health Organization’s website, this page will provide a more thorough explanation.

Your CRS fitness professionals lean more on the American College of Sports Medicine for the latest information and guidelines related to physical activity and exercise.  Their site is chocked full of items of interest to the general public.  The highlighted link provides a suggested starting point for those who want to know more.

Yoga Class.
Yoga class underway in J201 in the Johnson Center.



Not Just Another Game of Ping Pong

Most of us were introduced to this sport in someone’s garage, and while a few may have gotten good at it, it just remains a fun way to pass 30 or so minutes.  Make no mistake, table tennis is an international sport and attracts some amazing athletes.

Jordan Familant and Jared Miller, winners of the recent CRS tournament, enjoyed the privilege of playing a challenge for fun matchup with President Hsu and his wife, Dr. Chen.  The special event took place in the Silcox Gym on the Tuesday before everyone dashed off for the Thanksgiving holiday.

The entire campus knows of the president’s penchant for this sport and a number of you no doubt wondered just how good is he.

I’ll let you decide, though he will humbly tell you that he is not the best in the family!

President Hsu punctuates this point with a smash.
Sign of the times? Empty gym and players wearing masks.

An offshoot from this event is that Jordan Familant is interested in starting a table tennis club.  Keep in mind that the tables are set up in the gym for drop-in play with paddles and balls available too.  Make a trip to the Johnson and Silcox Gyms for a little fun.  You never know when President Hsu may stop in again for a quick game.

Silcox Gym Still Standing Strong

Merely getting older is not reason enough to take notice.  Look around, we live in a town full of old things.  This example is different.

We’ve all seen the quick-change costume act at the circus where the performer rapidly switches outfits in the blink of an eye.  The Silcox Gym too is similar.  Over the course of its 80 plus years it has served numerous events and purposes from a platform for presidential candidates, athletic center, a lunchtime cafe, location for intramural sports, department offices for physical education and classes, and holiday parties just to name a few.

It is coming up on the 25th anniversary of its last renovation, having reopened on November 29, 1995.  The change from the last fix-up was remarkable though the envelope of the building was untouched.  Unbelievably another renovation is already on the schedule.  And so the quick change act continues though in our parts we move a little slower.

While the focus of this is on the building, it is appropriate to point out that without persons of vision, strength of character, and the discipline to see it through, this building would be little more than a hollow shell.  Tied to this venerable gymnasium are quite a few individuals who stamped their contributions to the College, the community, and in some cases beyond.  Surprisingly quick were their long tenures: Willard A. Silcox, Anthony Meyer, Andrew Lewis, Tom Langley, Joan Cronan, Nancy Wilson, and Scooter Barnette.

The black and white photos were provided by the Special Collections unit of the College of Charleston Library.   A lot of dreams germinated in this building, and with any luck, that role will continue even if sporting a new outfit.

The facade is the same but the oak tree and fence have disappeared.
The gym was built to serve as an auditorium as well.
Yes, tennis courts where the TD Arena now sits.
Cornerstone being laid back in 1938.
Lobby entry from George Street.
Information plate detailing the building of the gym.
Information plate detailing the opening of the student activities building.
Facade of the Silcox Gym 2020.
Facade of the Silcox Gym 2020.
Panorama shot of the gym on the 2nd floor.
Panorama shot of the gym on the 2nd floor of Silcox 2020.
Lobby of the Silcox Gym 2020.
Lobby of the Silcox Gym 2020.

A Little Friday Afternoon Yoga With President Hsu

Who knew yoga could be so fun!  Well that is the assessment by 30 or so persons that joined in for a yoga session presented by CRS on behalf of President Hsu.  Who can argue that the location at the Cistern with the shadows starting to fall from the large oaks, the perfect crispness of fall weather, and one standout yoga instructor all combined to make a special event for those in attendance.

Many participants joined Hsu’s Crew with a commemorative t-shirt and a special pose  dedicated to President Hsu to wrap up the session.  Hope you get a chance to attend another one before the Thanksgiving break.

Student participating in Friday yoga at the Cistern.
A few more photos of the event can be found at:


Two New Programs to Lure You Out of Your Room

Parents have expressed concern to us that their youngsters are now spending far too  much time in their rooms.  Well now is the time to try out some new things that may lead to new hobbies.  Consider giving one of them a try.

Fishing Fridays

Check out the video produced by our own assistant director of Campus Recreation Services, Freddie Lipata.  Freddie, an avid fisherman, saw how this unique sport could address some of our present stressors.  Better yet is the noble feeling one gets when introducing others to a new sport.  Equipment and bait is provided!

Pandemic Pandemonium

Here is a unique geocaching game developed by CRS Director Gene Sessoms.  So many of us have not really explored downtown.  Instead we just zoom by in our car or bike.  The game will appeal to those who like to explore cool sites, enjoy a long walk, examine local history, and those who just love a challenge.  This is one of those activities that is perfect to do with a friend or shift it around and compete against members of your club.

REC-Creation: A CRS DIY Blog Post–Slip and Slide

This summer, people found themselves at home more with the pandemic and just like everybody else, I was constantly trying to find ways to entertain myself and my nephews while social distancing. One rainy day, I remembered how my sisters and I used to play in the rain when we were kids in the Philippines and wanted my nephew to experience the same happy feelings that come with running around in the rain with no care in the world. There was a big difference though–we have a plain yard here vs having a lot of trees and structures to run around where we lived back then so it made it more fun. I remembered having some tarps in the backyard and even though soap was a pretty valuable commodity at the time, I decided to sacrifice a bottle for the sake of having a good time. We laid out the tarps on the ground, drizzled some soap all over the surface, and let the sliding commence. For hours until the rain stopped, we slipped, we slid, and laughed calories away–the fun way. It’s become a regular activity for my nephew and me during this crazy time and these days, it has been good to have something else to look forward to, other than the CoVid vaccine. With all the rain that Charleston has been getting the past few weeks, I hope you get a chance to let yourself slip and slide…all the way into the new school year. Good luck with the upcoming Fall semester, Cougars!


You’ll need a tarp, at least 20ft., but we recommend longer if you can get your hands on some. The cheapest we’ve found them were for $5 at Harbor Freight or there’s a selection of them at Walmart or for $5-$10. For the one you see in the video, my nephew and I used two 8×10 tarps I had from Walmart. Each was around $4 in the camping section and can be reused for other activities such as camping and trips to the beach.

The first time we did the slip and slide, I just used dish soap that we already had in the house, but I found out that the best soap to use is the tear free soap meant for babies. I found a big jug for $4 at Walmart. The only downside of the soap that we used for the video below was that it was meant for night time so the scent made us sleepy after we got done. It made nap time for the little guy come sooner than planned.


Make sure to slide part of the tarps that you add at the end of each one under the previous tarp so that it makes transitions from one section to another a lot smoother. If you have some stakes available, we actually took advantage of the grommets that were already on the tarps to stake them down so that they stay flat and in place.

Activity is best done when it is raining so that you don’t run your water bill up. 🙂

National Disc Golf Day

Oh boy!  I missed it again.  The first Saturday in August is designated by the Professional Disc Golf Association as National Disc Golf Day .  Looks like you missed it too.

Well the good news is it is not too late to get a round in this week, and best of all it is one of those sports that can be played with little modification during this COVID-19 outbreak.

Not familiar with the sport.  This really is a great time to introduce a new sporting interest to your repertoire and it is one that qualifies as a lifetime sport.  The health benefits of playing a round or two are incredible.  Start with being outdoors, usually in a scenic setting while walking some distance, enjoying the social aspect since most like to play with a partner, improving one’s hand-eye coordination, and yes re-energizing your emotional state through the fun and relaxation the sport provides.

Go PDGA for an introduction to the sport and to find the nearest courses, latest rules, and anything else disc golf related.  Charleston has several courses and one may be near you.  Most cost nothing to play, and that as we say, “can’t be beat!”

Remember disc golf shouldn’t be relegated to just this one day a year.