Staying Active at U-M: A Review of Recreational Facilities, How to Access Free Fitness Classes on Campus, and Club Sports and Student Organizations to Join

Find some time to decompress with exercise that you enjoy on campus.

By Maryam Masood December 1, 2021
Blog post - Staying Active at U-M

Most years, the three-week race to the end of the semester between the long Thanksgiving weekend and winter break is typically when my physical activity starts to deteriorate. I adopt a finish-line mentality and allow my “brain gains” to consume any time I would ordinarily reserve to make physical gains by going to the gym or for a walk. This year, however, physical activity is a rare occurrence in my week-to-week. (This is 20% injury-related, 30% actually being busy, and 50% laziness/lack of motivation.)

After the long weekend, I’ve been reflecting on how my physical inactivity is something I’d like to change. Luckily, there are plenty of opportunities available on and near campus for prospective and current students like myself interested in staying active in college.

Try One of U-M’s Three Recreational Facilities 

  • Central Campus Recreation Center (CCRB): The CCRB is located on Central Campus around the corner from the Central Campus Transit Center (CCTC). The CCRB has a mix of new and more worn equipment, as well as a boxy layout that can be confusing for newcomers. It’s also my favorite campus gym. 
    • Location Best For: Anyone who lives near or around the Hill, Central Campus, or Kerrytown.
    • Layout Highlights: The third floor where you check in has a full-sized basketball court. You can check out basketballs and other equipment on the second floor. The second floor also houses the bulk of the equipment (squat rack, free weights, weight machines, etc.). Lastly, the first floor is where you’ll find cardio machines and the squash courts.

 A peek at the CCRB weight and cardio rooms. 
 A peek at the CCRB weight and cardio rooms. ​​​​

  • Intramural Sports Building (IMSB): Located near the Ice Arena and Stadium, the IMSB is one of the newly renovated facilities. It’s a little less centrally located than the other two gyms for most people living in the dorms, but it’s definitely worth a visit. 
    • Location Best For: Anyone who lives near or around Central Campus, especially people living off-campus close to the Stadium.
    • Layout Highlights: The first floor (i.e., beneath the main floor where you check in) has a large open room with kettlebells, medicine and slam balls, and mats, which is great if you just want to get in and out without navigating multiple parts of the gym. There is also another area on the first floor with platforms for Olympic and regular lifting, weight machines, and free weights. Cardio machines are dispersed through virtually every floor, and there are additional free weights and equipment throughout the upper floors as well.
  • North Campus Recreation Building (NCRB): The NCRB is also one of the more recently renovated facilities and mainly used by undergraduates who live in Bursley/Baits, as well as graduate students. It’s smaller and usually less densely packed than the Central Campus gyms, so it’s a good choice if you like having space when you work out. 
    • Location Best For: Anyone who lives on or near North Campus. 
    • Layout Highlights: Unlike the other campus gyms, everything you need in the NCRB can be found on the main floor where you check in. There’s also badminton or basketball usually going on in the courts if you want to pick up a game. 

Free Fitness Classes in Ann Arbor

  • Free Week of Group-X: Group-X offers group fitness classes through Recreational Sports for students and members. You can take classes like Gentle Yoga, Total Body Strength, and Cycling for free the first week or so of the semester when they run a trial week.
  • Pure Barre: Pure Barre is an off-campus (but centrally located) barre studio that offers low-impact, high-intensity workouts. They’re always running a free class deal, and I would recommend it to anyone who’s looking to try out a different type of exercise.
  • Free Yoga, Everywhere: There’s always someone offering a free in-person or virtual yoga class on campus. Usually you can find these promotions in a newsletter you might not typically open or by searching “yoga” in the U-M Events Calendar. As of this writing, there are two upcoming virtual yoga offerings on Dec. 1 and Dec. 8 at noon each day!

Health & Fitness Student Organizations

path along nature trail
Walking path on nature trail. 

There are an abundance of health and fitness organizations that are student-led or sports clubs affiliated with the university aimed at bringing together people who want to compete, be more active, or work out with friends. You can check out the full list of organizations on MaizePages, some of which require dues and some of which are free. Here are a couple of popular names I’ve run into before: 

As the end of the semester approaches and our ability to focus wanes, staying active can help revitalize what’s left of our energy. Whether it's getting a walk through the Arb, visiting one of our three recreational facilities, attending a free yoga class somewhere on campus, or joining a sports club, find some time to decompress with exercise that you enjoy on campus. If you are in need of an extra kick of motivation to get active like myself, I hope you found it here!

Maryam Masood

Maryam Masood (she/her) is a senior in the College of Literature, Science, and the Arts majoring in Organizational Studies. During the year, she keeps busy managing the Michigan Refugee Assistance Program and working as a trainer at Rec Sports. Outside of class and work, she can most likely be found making another cup of coffee, procrastinating at the CCRB, or rewatching Kim's Convenience on Netflix.