How to hit the gym or trail, not the screen, at GCU

GCU students enjoy the first night of indoor soccer last week. It's a new intramural sport added this fall. (Photo by David Kadlubowski)

By Mike Kilen
GCU News Bureau

As fall semester classes kick into full gear, it’s important to remember that college is not all about hitting the books. It’s also about hitting the hiking trail, or the ball, or the yoga mat.

“These are all opportunities to be ‘non-digital’ and connect with people,” said Matt Lamb, GCU Director of Campus Recreation, which offers many ways to stay active during the academic year.

“Students all come here to go to school, obviously. But it’s these sorts of things that keep them coming back or keep them willing to try new things and succeed. The data show that the more students are involved in programs like this, the better they do. It keeps them plugged in.”

It’s good for faculty and staff, too, who can take advantage of fitness classes, facilities and outdoor recreation trips.

Here's what is available:

Outdoor Recreation

One of the favorite trips last year for GCU Outdoor Recreation was canoeing in the Black Canyon.

If you can imagine it, you can do it this year. There are 70 programs and adventures planned, open to full-time traditional GCU students, faculty and staff.

Just in the last two weeks, there were opportunities to take a backpacking trip to Ice Lake Basin, a whitewater rafting trip to Rio Grande Gorge and a hiking trip to Fossil Springs. Fees apply to most programs, though a few are free. Go to and click outdoor recreation for a list and registration.

“The reason we encourage students to get outside is it helps them balance their life, it keeps them plugged in by building community and, especially for people from the Midwest, it introduces them to Arizona,” said Chad Schlundt, Outdoor Recreation Manager. “Lastly, it is an introduction to outdoor skills.”

Schlundt is excited for GCU to retain its 2017 title as “Most Outdoorsy College in the States.” This year’s Association of Outdoor Recreation and Education Campus Challenge is a chance for students, faculty, staff and alumni to log their outdoor adventures from Sept. 16 to Oct. 13 and compete against 98 other colleges.

Also new this year for outdoor types is a climbing wall in the Canyon Activity Center and a new rental center, where backpacks, tents, paddleboards and many other outdoor equipment items can be checked out.

Go to to see gear prices and make reservations.

Intramural Sports

Intramural Sports is offering a new sport this fall – indoor soccer – to go with flag football and sand volleyball. Later this fall, outdoor soccer, three-on-three basketball and spikeball join the offerings.

Students got a kick out of the first night of Intramural indoor soccer on Tuesday. (Photo by David Kadlubowski).

“We found that students love soccer here, and now it can be in an air-conditioned space,” said Zach Erdmann, Intramural Sports Manager.

Erdmann said Intramurals are especially suited to the “average to above-average” athlete who doesn’t have the opportunity or skill to play intercollegiate sports but wants to keep competing. There are men’s, women’s and co-recreational leagues based on skill levels.

“It also provides students a community,” he said. “It gives students a chance outside the classroom to meet people and, a lot of times, to burn off steam. They are able to develop teamwork and conflict-resolution skills because, when it’s sport and something happens that you don’t agree with, it helps them learn to work through those issues.”

To sign up for Intramural sports, go to

Fitness and facilities

The Canyon Activities Center features 10 basketball courts that also can be adapted for other sports. (Photo by David Kadlubowski)

There are five fully equipped student fitness centers on campus at Lopes Performance Center, Juniper Hall, Chaparral Hall, Papago Apartments and Canyon Activity Center.

New this year is updated equipment in Juniper Hall, and another fitness center is coming soon in Antelope Apartments.

Numerous classes are also available, from strength and conditioning to yoga or spinning. Go to and click fitness for a list of classes and registration.

“Three is a great sense of fellowship,” said Noemi Howard, Student Fitness Centers Manager. “Also, there is a mental health aspect. We get a lot of students that are dealing with challenges, and I encourage them to get in a fitness program. Just work out and it makes a world of difference with fellowship -- and just to be able to feel good about themselves through fitness and wellness.”

This is also the first full year of the Canyon Activity Complex and its numerous recreation options, including the outdoor hockey rink, tennis courts and outdoor basketball courts. Don’t forget about the new skate ramps outside CAC. The cement is being poured now, and they should be ready to go later this fall.

Meanwhile, indoors at the CAC, its 10 basketball and 13 volleyball courts already have led to a big uptick in student participation, said Kris Kuchler, Canyon Activity Center Facility Manager: “It’s awe-inspiring. We can really do a lot there on the largest wooden floor in the state of Arizona.”

Because of the added space, GCU will host the National Intramural Recreational Sports Association regional tournaments this year.

Grand Canyon University senior writer Mike Kilen can be reached at [email protected] or at 602-639-6764.


Related content:

GCU Today: Just like that, Canyon Activity Center is a big hit

GCU Today: 27th Avenue fitness center expanded, improved

GCU Today: Expanded facilities making workouts an easy fit


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