Christopher Frost had two goals. He needed to complete an independent study to finish his master’s degree in exercise, fitness and health promotion at George Mason University. And he wanted to give back to the Town of Warrenton, Virginia, where he’s lived since 2018.
Frost decided that his independent study would be helping the Warrenton Aquatic and Recreation Facility (WARF) determine the needs of its community during and after the COVID-19 pandemic. Over the summer, Frost conducted a survey to determine whether WARF patrons who had stayed at home during the pandemic were planning to return to the facility and, if so, for what types of activities.
“We knew some people had stopped using the facility because of the pandemic, but we didn’t know how many were planning on returning and when and what their interests would be,” said Frost. “By finding out, the town and WARF could prepare for the areas in which there would be higher demand.”
WARF opened in 2007 as a response to the growing recreational needs of its population, according to its website. It is a 59,738-square-foot building featuring an indoor competition pool, a leisure pool and a therapeutic spa. It also has a fitness room and a multipurpose room in which fitness classes are held, along with paved hiking paths, playing fields and an inline skating rink and skate park.
Frost said that about 450 individuals responded to the survey. Of those individuals who responded, about half had stopped using the facility during the pandemic. Frost learned that patrons were planning on returning fairly soon and that they were most interested in lap swimming and walking the paths surrounding the indoor facility.
Frost said he hoped that the survey was helpful for the facility as it allocated its resources and planned for the future. He also learned that about half of the respondents don’t live in Warrenton but, presumably, either work in the town or live nearby or both.
“This was the perfect project for Chris,” said Joel Martin, assistant professor and academic program coordinator for kinesiology in the College of Education and Human Development. “During his time in the military, he saw firsthand the importance of proper exercise on the health and well-being of soldiers serving our country. He knows the role exercise should play in people’s lives.”
Frost retired from military service in 2019. An avid photographer, he is now pursuing an undergraduate degree in fine arts at Mason.
“Chris’s findings should help to improve the fitness and recreational offerings of the facility, which is serving the very fast-growing town of Warrenton,” Martin added.
Frost said that the best part of the project was that he got better acquainted with Warrenton.
“I just got to better understand the people in my community and provide them with a service,” said Frost. “I found it very fulfilling.”