“We are seeking to instill a philosophy of health and well-being"

© 2016 EPFL / Alain Herzog

© 2016 EPFL / Alain Herzog

The University Sports Center in Lausanne celebrates its 75th anniversary this year. In this interview, director Pierre Pfefferlé talks about the center’s mission, its success and the special events planned for 2016.

Why are you celebrating this anniversary?
We realized that the first university sports program began in 1941. That’s why we are celebrating this anniversary. So it’s to recognize this fact, but it’s also an opportunity to let people know about the sports center’s ‘new’ team, which has been in place a little under three years. We also wanted to increase our visibility, because I think we have a real role to play as a real service for both EPFL and the University of Lausanne. Our 75th anniversary will help us project a positive image of university sports, under the slogan Living sports.

What events are planned for this anniversary year?
We already have two big events, volleyball night and dance night. My colleagues Reto Ineichen and Jean-Sébastien Scharl are going to ‘customize’ these events. For volleyball night, for example, we will use white balls and, for the first part of the tournament, we’ll use the rules from 40 years ago – a flashback to the 1970s, when the first gym was built. There will also be an official, invitation-only evening, on 23 September. Two new events are also being organized to promote competitive sports and student health. The competitive event will be a 24-hour relay race (the Run24Dorigny, see box), while the health event will be one or two days on campus during which the university community will be able to test their physical condition at a number of different stands. One of the big problems, of course, stems from all the sitting we do. The health event will be paired with a Sports UNIL-EPFL app (starting on 29 February) that provides users with a custom fitness program based on short exercises.

Your philosophy of university sports?
We have to think about the physical activities we engage in and steer clear of certain problems associated with competitive sports. We encourage people to systematically pay attention to what they’re doing, why they’re doing it and how. It’s important for people to be aware of these things, even when it comes to performance sports, and to always think through their actions including the health and well-being aspects. We mustn’t simply charge forward, unthinking, taking supplements to boost our performance.

The most popular sports these days?
Physical fitness activities and low-impact workouts. We see that our participants already think about their health when doing sports. Sports aren’t as hardcore as they were 15 years ago, no more ‘no pain no gain’. We also see a higher proportion of women in these sports, while men prefer team sports. We get around 410,000 admissions to the sports center per year.

Author: Corinne Feuz

Source: EPFL