UCLA Spotlight

UCLA Recreation — Yesterday and today

  • By Cynthia Lee
  • Published Jun 1, 2005 8:00 AM

The new Wooden Center West addition gives students, staff and faculty a chance to set aside their work temporarily to pump, heave, pull, cycle and move with the help of more than 250 state-of-the-art pieces of cardio exercise and strength-training equipment.

Exercise is nothing new for Bruins, who have taken physical fitness seriously from the outset. When Goldie Moss first set foot on the embryonic Westwood campus in 1928, there was “nothing but a couple of buildings, weeds, fresh air and lots of hopes and dreams,” the class of ’29 alumna recalled. But the lack of amenities such as playing fields, a swimming pool and proper sports equipment didn’t keep energetic Bruins from finding recreational outlets.

By 1930, more than 40 women were learning to clog dance, despite “numerous setbacks and inadequacy of facilities,” sniffed writers of 1930 Southern Campus yearbook. Moss wasn’t interested in sports but did take to the dance floor. In fact, female students in 1929-30 participated in 14 different sports and activities that ranged from ping-pong to fencing and natural dancing, choreographed by their own creative impulses. It was the third most popular form of exercise among the lady Bruins, behind golf and basketball. For male students, intramural and big-league sports were already foremost among campus activities, enlivened by cricket, rifle-shooting, boxing, badminton and rugby.

Today, the campus has far surpassed even these diverse recreational experiences. “It’s fantastic and undreamed of,” said 95-year-old Moss of the amenities the campus now enjoys. “I’m so shocked by what I see, I can hardly believe it.”

Seventy-seven years after Moss’ first visit to campus, more than 80% of students utilize recreational facilities, fields and services. More than 4,000 staff and faculty hold individual UCLA Recreation memberships, and nearly 10,000 staff/faculty families, alumni and other non-students enjoy the privileges of membership.

UCLA Recreation now manages 14 different facilities. Members can climb a 24-foot-high rock wall, choose from among 26 different yoga classes and learn 15 different kinds of martial arts, from Capoeira to Pilipino Kali. More than 16,000 participate in 45 intramural sports annually. And every day, more than 4,400 recreation members drop in to the John Wooden Center, whose 60-plus programming spaces include multi-use courts, workout rooms, lounges and large gyms.

It’s not all about sweat and pumping iron. Inside the Sunset Canyon Recreation Center, the diversions include jewelry making, guitar lessons, dark-room techniques, taiko drumming and magic tricks. Those who kayak, sail, row or windsurf beat a path to Marina del Rey and UCLA’s Marina Aquatic Center, nearly 40 years old.

It’s all part of the rich tradition and respect for the mind-body connection that Bruins have nurtured through the years.


Swimmers training to be lifeguards in 1994 frolic in the pool at the old Men’s Gym, renamed the Student Activities Center.
Copyright © UCLA Recreation


Weightlifters observe a fellow student bench-pressing a hefty barbell (year unknown).
Copyright © The UCLA Archive


A staff member watches TV as she cycles in the new Wooden West addition.
Copyright © UCLA Marketing and Communications Services