How to "do" Rec Sports

When it comes to working out, uncertainty about how or where to start is not uncommon. But these things shouldn’t keep you from working out altogether. Our team is here to help you find something YOU love. So whether you played varsity sports in high school, are training for your 10th half-marathon, or have never seen the inside of a gym…
You are not alone.
We’ve put together a few helpful tips for participating in Rec Sports facilities and programs. We know it can be a little overwhelming to see everything we have going on and not know where to start. Hopefully these tips can help you get started (and look like you kind of know what you’re doing). If all else fails, send us an email or ask someone in a Rec Sports polo for help. That’s what we’re here for!

photo of the natatorium diving well and diving boards
The Natatorium offers two pools, a 25-yard lap swimming pool and a smaller (and warmer) diving well. Check out for facility hours.

How to work out at our facilities
Well, the good news is you’re already a member of Rec Sports if you’re currently enrolled in classes at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
When you come to our facilities, make sure you bring your Wiscard. The Member Services or Facility Assistant will swipe your ID, and […dramatic pause…] that’s it. You’re in. If you forget your Wiscard (it happens), we can look you up in our system using your student ID number.
Store your book bag, your coat, your lunch, your phone, your game tickets, etc. in a locker. We have “day use” lockers that you can use if you bring your own lock or if you rent a lock from us for $1. You can also rent a locker for up to a full year.
If you want to shower after a workout at the Nat or Shell, showers are located in the locker rooms. You can check out a towel from the Towel Room (if you’re at the Nat — access this desk through the locker rooms) or Member Services Desk (if you’re at the Shell) or bring your own.
How to check out equipment
The Natatorium, Shell, and Nielsen Tennis Stadium all have equipment desks where you can check out balls, racquets, weight belts, medicine balls, foam rollers, and more. The Shell and Nielsen desks are the same place you swipe in. The Nat’s desk is a little tougher to find: you have to access it through the locker rooms. Follow the signs and bring your Wiscard to check out the equipment you need!
photo of students using the new queenax equipment
The Queenax functional training system is a new addition to the Cardio Court in Gym 4 at the Natatorium. Check out our Queenax Boost classes to learn how to incorporate the equipment into you next workout

How to use the fitness equipment
There are a few ways to start feeling comfortable in the weight and cardio rooms. We always have a staff member on hand who can give you some basic tips. But if you’re looking for more help, we recommend signing up for a few personal training sessions, joining our Group Fitness program and specifically attending some strength classes, or checking out one of our Small Group Training classes.
How to sign up for an intramural sport
We typically offer more than 20 sports each semester, both traditional and non-traditional (Inner Tube Water Polo, anyone?), so you’ve got a lot of opportunities to win a coveted IM Champion t-shirt this year! Here’s how to register:

  1. Click on IMLeagues at the top of the Rec Sports website.
  2. Sign in with your UW NetID.
  3. Follow the on-screen prompts.
  4. If you’re not joining an existing team, click “Register” and follow the steps below. If you’re joining an existing team, click “Find a Team” and type in the name of the team you wish to join.
  5. Select the sport and time you want to play.
  6. Create a team or join as a “free agent”.
    • If you’re creating a team, you are the “Captain”. You must complete the Captain’s Quiz with a score of more than 80% to move on in the registration process. It’s not that hard, we promise.
    • If you don’t know anyone playing yet, we recommend joining as a free agent so a team can add you to their squad.
  7. Continue following the on-screen prompts to complete the process.

photo of intramural sports teams giving each other a high five after a game
Joining an intramural sport is a fun and easy way to make friends at a time that works for you. Choose a game time that fits your schedule when you register on IMLeagues via the Rec Sports website.

Joining an intramural sport is a fun and easy way to meet people, blow off some steam, try something new, impress your friends, and forget about school for a sec. Choose a game time that fits your schedule when you register on IMLeagues via our website.
How to decide which pass is right for you
Intramural Sports Pass: If you’re planning on playing lots of sports this year, you should purchase the $45 Year Pass. This is our most popular option and it allows you to play as much as you want. If you’re only going to be here one semester (because you’re graduating in December or studying abroad next spring) or if you only want to play spring sports, for example, you should purchase the $25 Semester Pass. Finally, if you only want to play one sport and that’s it, the $15 Team Pass is the way to go.
Group Fitness Pass:  Before you purchase your Group Fitness pass, take advantage of our FREE classes during the first two weeks of every semester. You can try as many classes as you want to help you decide if you want to continue during the school year. Semester passes are $30 and Fall+Spring passes are $50. If you’re going to be around all year (because you know that Madison summers are THE BEST), we also have Annual passes available for $70. Check out a full list of our Group Fitness pass options online.
How to stay motivated
We get it. School takes up a lot of your time and head space. Your friends are important and your social calendar is probably booked. But you’re important, too. And your ability to focus on homework, sleep well at night, and be a fun friend are largely impacted by your physical health. We ran the numbers, and taking 20-30 minutes out of your day to work out accounts for like 2% of your life. #math
If you need an extra push, make sure to follow us on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter. We love sharing stories about #ActiveBadgers who inspire us and fun tips to keep your workouts interesting.
So whether you’ve been here for a few weeks or a few years, we hope these tips help you get involved. If you still feel stuck, please reach out to us at We’d love to help you find something that fits your interests and makes you excited to PLAY HARD. GET FIT. LIVE WELL.