UC Berkeley to install massage chairs in Recreational Sports Facility

Calvin Tang/File

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UC Berkeley will be installing a new Relaxation Enhancing Study and Tranquility, or REST, zone to the Recreational Sports Facility this semester.

RSF staff members, the Wellness Initiative Fee Advisory Committee and ASUC Academic Affairs Vice President Frances McGinley have been working since the start of the new year to add a REST zone to the RSF. The project is being funded by the Wellness Initiative Fee, the ASUC and the Chancellor’s Advisory Committee on Student Services and Fees, according to RSF communications manager Andy Davis.

While the RSF will not contain nap pods, it will include three new massage chairs outside of the Pro Shop, according to Davis. McGinley said each chair will cost $2,895. The chairs will feature customizable styles, intensities and speeds.

Davis said the project is expected to be completed near the end of March.

The RSF attracts more than 5,000 students per day, making it an ideal location for the new REST zone, Davis said.

According to McGinley, the RSF approached the ASUC with a request to implement the REST zone.

“(The RSF) is accessible to a large number of students, and with the amount of traffic the RSF gets, we determined that it was a fair use of funds for the project,” McGinley said.

Some students who frequent the RSF, however, have expressed doubts about the project.

“Massage chairs probably aren’t the most effective way to reduce stress for most students,” said campus freshman Nikita Acharya. “I think the money could be used on other forms of stress relief.”

Campus junior Alec Cwener said he noticed that some of the equipment in the RSF was worn and old. He added that he would rather the funding was used to fix existing equipment rather than to install something new.

The REST zone campaign has been in effect for more than a year, since its installation in several campus locations, including the basement of Eshleman Hall and the Bechtel Engineering Center.

The REST zone campaign is focused on giving students the resources to balance a rigorous academic environment with relaxation and stress relief, according to Davis.

University Health Services spokesperson Kim LaPean said each REST zone has a slightly different purpose. Some, such as the ones in Eshleman and Bechtel, contain nap pods to provide places for students to nap. The Tang Center, on the other hand, features two massage chairs that allow students to relax and enjoy a bit of quiet time.

It’s about the fact that students are so scheduled from the time they get up to the time they finally get to put their heads down,” LaPean said. “Sometimes they just need a space to take a break or to take a little nap.”

Interim Director of Recreational Sports Brigitte Lossing said in an email that the RSF was “thrilled” to be able to partner with the REST zone initiative and support the student body.

“Our students are our priority and when we can serve their needs in new and innovative ways, our entire campus community benefits,” Lossing said in her email.

Contact Amber Tang at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @ambertang_dc.