Students exercising on new cardio machines will help to power the University of Central Florida’s expanded Recreation and Wellness Center, which officially opened Jan. 10, the first day of spring classes.

The 65,000-square-foot expansion was completed with sustainability in mind, and its new features include elliptical machines that turn human motion into a usable form of renewable energy.

“We are so excited to be able to offer UCF students this state-of-the-art facility,” said Recreation and Wellness Center Director James Wilkening. “We’ve created a fully comprehensive recreation center that appeals to students’ different needs while incorporating elements that lead to a healthier planet.”

The 20 new ReRev machines capture energy while in motion, and a central unit converts that energy into the form used to power houses and businesses. UCF and the University of Florida are the only universities in the state with ReRev equipment.

A 30-minute workout on one of the environmentally friendly machines generates enough energy to fully charge six cell phones or power a laptop for one hour. The energy produced by the machines will feed into the building’s power supply, reducing energy costs.

Other amenities include a new lap pool, a multi-use gym large enough for indoor soccer games, an outdoor adventure center, four racquetball courts and more space for free weights and fitness equipment. A “wet” classroom beside the new pool will be used for the instruction of CPR and first-aid classes.

The center, which now totals 150,000 square feet, has other “green” features, including sophisticated indoor lights that adjust based on the amount of light shining in through the windows and occupancy sensors in restrooms and locker rooms.

The facility is seeking Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification, the widely accepted benchmark for buildings that are exceptionally environmentally friendly and healthy for occupants.

About 13,000 students visit the Recreation and Wellness Center each week, and that number is expected to climb with the completed expansion.

During a ribbon-cutting ceremony Monday, Maribeth Ehasz, vice president for Student Development and Enrollment Services, credited several student body presidents for their efforts to plan and secure funding for the expansion. The expansion, which cost $21.7 million, was funded by student fees.

“This Recreation and Wellness Center expansion is here today because of students’ vision,” Ehasz said. “We build it, and they come.”

To learn more about the Recreation and Wellness Center, go to