So Hoos Asking? A New Feature Will Answer Your Cavalier Queries

March 28, 2024 By Mike Mather, Mike Mather,

You don’t get to be a 205-year-old university without generating a few questions along the way. And we’re here to answer them. 

You’re reading the first installment of “So Hoos Asking?,” an occasional feature that will tap a crack team of University of Virginia historians, experts, students and staff to field your queries on all manner of topics and to dive into common questions about the University and how it operates. Send those questions to

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Today’s question:

“I want to join a gym. Who can use UVA’s facilities, and how do they compare to the commercial gyms in the Charlottesville area?”

To answer, we turned to UVA Rec Executive Director Erica Perkins.

For full-time students, it’s a no-brainer, Perkins said. Their student fees cover a UVA Rec membership that includes four recreation centers and everything from climbing walls to swimming pools.

So, the question really comes down to others affiliated with the University who are eligible for membership, and whether the UVA option is the best bargain.

“Typically, a UVA Rec membership is significantly lower than other options in the area when comparing apples to apples, which is not always easy to do,” she said. 

Erica Perkins

Erica Perkins says a key benefit of a UVA Rec membership is that it’s like joining four gyms, because each recreation center has different amenities and a different vibe. (Photo by Dan Addison, UVA Communications)

UVA Rec facilities memberships are available to faculty, staff, alumni, University retirees and others associated with the University, as well as spouses, dependents and “plus-ones,” Perkins said. The costs vary by group. For faculty and staff, for example, a membership works out to be under $30 a month when factoring in the University’s health-benefit subsidy.

Perkins said the low cost is just one benefit to a UVA Rec membership. 

“Far from being a cookie-cutter experience, each of our four rec centers on Grounds has its own unique amenities that appeal to different fitness and wellness interests,” Perkins said. “Whether you want to take a group cycling, strength or yoga class, try a new route on our ever-popular climbing wall, go for a run on one of two indoor tracks, swim laps in either of our two indoor pools or reserve a pickleball court to play with your friends, we’ve got it all covered.

“There’s no need to venture out to a niche studio or specialized gym and pay market rates for one or two activities when you have access to all amenities at UVA,” she said.

And like some commercial gyms, UVA Rec lets potential members “try before you buy,” allowing two weeks of cost-free visits, Perkins said. 

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“We also lend out free racquets, paddles, balls, climbing shoes, protective eyewear and anything else you might need to explore a new activity without additional costs,” she said. “Plus, there’s always the luxury of a post-workout soak in our massive whirlpools or a relaxing steam in one of our saunas to look forward to.”

For an extra fee, Perkins said members can sign up for fitness and wellness classes and participate in a variety of other activities, including hikes, backpacking, caving, ice skating, snowboarding, kayaking and sports leagues.

“There are countless ways to make new friends, be active and thrive on Grounds,” she said. 

Is there something about UVA or the UVA experience you want to know about? Send an email to and we’ll get you the answer.

Media Contact

Mike Mather

Managing Editor University Communications