UNIVERSITY PARK, PA – Students at Penn State University will be paying more to work out this year. The fitness membership fee increased $9 per semester from last year because of the addition of the Rec Hall fitness center, according to the university’s newspaper, TheDaily Collegian.

Last fall, a student fitness pass cost Penn State students $41 per semester. This fall, the cost is $50 per semester.

Penn State fitness program coordinator Jill Garrigan tells The Daily Collegian that another factor for the fee increase was the rise in minimum wage. According to the Economic Policy Institute research group, the minimum wage in Pennsylvania rose from $6.25 an hour to $7.15 an hour.

Everyone is affected by the minimum wage increase, forcing costs to increase as well, Garrigan tells the newspaper. With the addition of the Rec Hall fitness center, she says, equipment costs, staff hours and the number of fitness classes have also doubled. Garrigan adds that even with the increase in costs, the university tries to keep the fee at or below commercial fitness facility prices.

The fitness membership allows Penn State students access to the Rec Hall fitness center, the White Building fitness center, the Natatorium fitness loft, the Intramural Building fitness center, all indoor pools at the Natatorium and White Building, recreational aerobic classes and open recreation hours at the Sarni Tennis Center.

The Rec Hall fitness center was a $13 million project that was completed in the summer of 2006. An increase in the fitness membership was not assessed before the 2006-07 school year, according to the newspaper, because university officials were unsure about whether the Rec Hall fitness center would be completed in time before the school year.

The Daily Collegian reports that most Penn State students haven’t been too disappointed about the fee increase. Eric Simbeck, who just returned to campus from the military, says that although he has yet to look into buying a membership, the increase in the fitness fee is not a big deal to him.

“Twenty dollars isn’t really a huge difference,” Simbeck tells the newspaper. “I mean, if you’re talking going from $80 to $150, then I could see people not getting [a membership].”

Another student, Monique D’Entremont, tells The Daily Collegian that although she understands the reason for the fee increase, she says it’s not worth it to her to get a membership.

“I live in South [Halls] so I go to the White Building,” D’Entremont tells the newspaper. “I’ve heard that Rec Hall is nice, but the increased fees would only really be worth it for people who actually go there.”