Recreational Sports Facility’s massage program closed, effective this year

Calvin Tang/Staff

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The Recreational Sports Facility will no longer offer massage service, as part of its ongoing plans to make Rec Sports programs more student-centered.

On Dec. 31, Rec Sports officially discontinued Cal Massage, a program that provided professional massage services to students at subsidized rates, as well as to campus faculty and community members. According to former Cal Massage program coordinator Alaina Lipp, Rec Sports’ senior leadership and interim director Brigitte Lossing informed her Nov. 10 that massage services would no longer be available, after deciding in October to cut the program.

According to Davis, the decision to discontinue the Cal Massage program was part of a larger, ongoing effort to ensure that Rec Sports services are better oriented for students. He added that the move was not related to a report published by an independent review committee in June, which found that Rec Sports should re-evaluate the relevance of certain programs.

“We valued what Cal Massage brought to the campus, but at this time, it was no longer serving the core mission of Rec Sports of student focus and student interests and needs,” said RSF spokesperson Andy Davis. “So we made the difficult decision to discontinue the program and reinvest those efforts elsewhere.”

The space formerly occupied by Cal Massage will be used for more student-centric programs, Davis said. Rec Sports has already designated the space for personal training consultation, fitness composition testing and athletic training, which is part of the student-run Sports Club Program and not affiliated with Cal Athletics.

Despite the fact that the cut was met with criticism from former students who used the massage services, Lipp said, no discussion took place between Rec Sports and the facilitators about finding other ways to continue Cal Massage. In an attempt to save the program, Lipp and Director of Fitness and Wellness Devin Wicks proposed to move the program to other departments on campus but could not find a new space in time.

Although Davis stated that Rec Sports aimed to be more student-focused and that the program “no longer met those criteria,” Lipp said that about two-thirds of her customers were students and that the program held contracts with the office of student housing in order to give students subsidized rates.

She added that the portion of her clientele composed of non-students and other community members helped raise enough profit to sustain low student prices.

After evaluating the program, however, Rec Sports determined Cal Massage was “not in line with the student needs and interests relative to some of the other programs we offer.”

“It’s a shame to lose such a successful long-run program that really had the opportunity to support staff and that allowed them to be one of the premier universities,” Lipp said. “Now, they have to resort to expense off-campus services.”

The Cal Massage program generated $36,000 in 2016, which Lipp and Wicks had tentatively aimed to double in 2017. Davis said the decision to discontinue the Cal Massage program wasn’t based on financial reasons.

With the closure of Cal Masssage, Lipp said she is concerned that Rec Sports does not offer enough wellness programs. Davis, however, said Rec Sports understands “the need for holistic wellness programs and services.”

According to Davis, the RSF offers up to 25 mind and body group exercise classes per week, including yoga, tai chi and pilates. In addition, Rec Sports is working with University Health Services to bring a REST Zone — which will provide a place for students to sleep and relax —  to the RSF in the spring semester, Davis said.

Contact Francesca Munsayac and Charlotte Kosche at [email protected].