Rec Center rule against sports drinks ridiculous

This summer, I set a goal to lose 10 pounds by working out. I drove to the Student Recreation Center, bringing my Gatorade and a towel to work out. But that day, I found out that sports drinks are not allowed in the weight room or anywhere outside the Jui ce Bar.

There is an exception to the rule: if a person has a medical condition, he or she is allowed to bring juice or sports drinks into the weight room after notifying staff. Consequently, even though I have a medical condition, I was berated for having the au dacity to bring in Gatorade.

Since one of the guidelines in the Mission Statement of the Department of Campus Recreation is for the "development of healthy lifetime nutritional habits," it would seem that the Rec Center would want people to drink sports drinks instead of plain water.

Dr. Richard Sampliner, the chief of gastroenterology at the Arizona Health Services Center (UMC) said that because of the climate in Arizona, sodium and electrolytes, which water does not have, become depleted. The possibility of becoming dehydrated and i ll is "not as critical" for a healthy person. But if the person does not have healthy kidneys or a normal gastro-intestinal system or is part of a "subgroup with chronic illnesses, these people can become volume depleted (dehydrated)."

Dr. Lynne Smiley, the Student Health Center nutritionist who works inside the Student Recreation Center, has a different perspective. She said people only lose electrolytes if they work out continuously for 1 1/2 hours or more and that the amount of elect rolyte and sodium loss depends on the conditioning of the person. Smiley said "the less in shape a person is, the more electrolytes and sodium they lose." It's a fact that sports drinks replace electrolytes, but Smiley ended the interview with the affirma tion that "in the opinion of a nutritionist," sports drinks are "not necessary."

You make the call for whose advice to take: the person with an M.D. in gastroenterology or the person with a Ph.D. in nutrition. Gee, that's a tough one.

Susan Benner-Hughes, the assistant director of Campus Recreation for Fitness said sports drinks are not allowed to protect the floor and equipment. However, after the remodeling and expansion done later this year, there will be no carpeting left in the we ight room, just virgin rubber. Benner-Hughes admitted there is a "bigger problem on carpet surface than virgin rubber" for clean-up. But, there is a professional janitorial service and the weight room staff to keep the weight room floor and the equipment clean with soap and water and a Simple Green solution.

I did my own experiment with Gatorade; I poured some onto a glass table and a washcloth. Granted, the fruit punch did discolor my washcloth, but the stain disappeared after I washed it. Also, the glass became slightly tacky, but was fine after being clean ed. The results showed that the cleanup of spilled Gatorade is minimal.

The rule prohibiting sports drinks outside the Juice Bar seems a little odd considering what staff from other fitness centers in Tucson had to say. Steve Iacullo, the service manager of Bally's Total Fitness said sports drinks are allowed in their weight rooms as "long as they are in bottles." David Maggart, a member of the weight room staff at the Jewish Community Center affirmed the same philosophy: people can bring in sports drinks, as long as they are in bottles not cups.

Tom Ferrentino, owner of World Gym, does allow sports drinks. Ferrentino said that "once in a blue moon people will spill, but I have a great staff who always clean up immediately. Also, since I sell the drinks, I have to allow them in my gym." Gosh, what other recreation center can I think of which sells sports drinks?

The rule against sports drinks is inane. There should be no reason that others cannot bring sports drinks into the weight room. By replacing the carpet in the weight room with virgin rubber, there will be no chance of stains. As for the sticky issue, no o ne is going to stick to the floor and lose a limb.

The Department of Campus Recreation needs to recognize that the students at this university are adults. Many will act responsibly when they spill their sports drinks and will clean up the mess.

Jeremy Pepper is a philosophy senior. His column, 'Dash of Pepper,' appears every other Thursday.