Payne Center provides new programs

With the new semester in full swing, so are new programs at The University of Southern Mississippi’s Payne Center. These changes include new workout classes, new operation hours, new fitness events and the return of outdoor programs.

Students around campus have been buzzing about several group classes including the popular Zumba and yoga classes.

Mark Crager, director of recreational sports, takes great pride in the Payne Center. “I’ve seen a more active group of students than previous semesters,” Crager said. “They usually take advantage of non-scheduled activities.”

Crager also said the new circuit training in the Wisteria Room has the best cardio and strength training combined. “Our new cardio equipment is top of the line,” he said. “We would like to highlight that we’ve added a new spinning studio.”

Mary Nettles, a USM student, has worked at the Welcome Center in the Payne Center for more than four years and takes advantage of the gym’s resources.

“I work out all the time here [at the Payne Center],” she said. “I tried out the new spinning class and there’s been a good turnout.”

Nettles prefers the Payne Center rather than other gyms in the area. “It’s paid for in your tuition, why not use it?”

According to the USM fitness page, other things students can find at the Payne Center include an indoor swimming pool, weight training, resistance and aerobic/cardio training stations, racquetball and squash courts, a gym with badminton, volleyball and basketball courts and a one-eighth mile indoor track.

Personal fitness instruction and nutritional counseling by a dietitian are offered for a fee to all students and faculty.

Outdoor facilities include a fitness and wellness trail and four lighted fields for flag football, softball and soccer.

Intramural sports include traditional favorites like flag football, basketball and softball, as well as soccer, indoor and sand volleyball, co-ed bowling, pair’s billiards, kickball, dodgeball and ultimate Frisbee.

Abby Elias, fitness and wellness coordinator at the Payne Center, is very excited about the center’s upcoming events.

“October is ‘Paint Southern Miss Pink’ breast cancer awareness month,” Elias said. “We will have themed spinning classes, door decorating and golf cart decorating contests.

The return of Southern Miss Outdoor Programs (SMOP) will bring fishing, rafting, camping and survival clinics to Southern Miss students and the Hattiesburg community. The next trip will be a hike to Little Black Creek and is scheduled for Sept. 14 at 8 a.m. The cost is $10.

For more information, visit the Rec Sports website at