About Us

Awards and Recreation Advisory Committee

Zesiger Member of the Month

The Zamanian Family

Father Ahmad; Mother Sabah; Daughters Maryam and Zaynab

Where are you originally from?
Ahmad is from Victoria, Texas, and Sabah was born in Pakistan but was raised most of her life in Northern New Jersey.  Our first daughter Maryam (6 years old) was born in Houston, Texas and our 1-year-old daughter Zaynab was born here in Cambridge.

What is your career?
Ahmad is a final-year PhD candidate in the EECS department at MIT; after graduating, he will be joining a research group at Shell, applying tools from Bayesian inference and machine learning to seismic exploration.
Sabah used to teach Science and Religious Studies in elementary schools but after the kids, she now stays home to dedicate her time to them.

What brought you to MITRecSports?
We were looking for an affordable gym to join as a family. We want to be able to go swimming, and, Sabah and her 6-year-old daughter Maryam wanted to learn how to swim.  MITRecSports provided exactly that so we joined as a family.

How long have you been swimming?
Ahmad has been swimming since he was a young child.  Sabah just started to learn how to swim in 2009 but didn't join any actual swimming classes until she came to MITRecSports.  Our daughter Maryam started taking swimming classes last summer in 2013, and began taking classes at the Z-center in September 2013.

What are your aquatic/swimming goals?
Sabah: My main goals are to learn how to swim and learn to master the various swimming strokes.  I want to learn how to perfect my breathing and be able to swim freely in deep pools.  I want the same for my daughter and want her to be able to swim independently.
Ahmad: I enjoy swimming as recreational activity, but I would like to improve my swimming abilities to be able to get a sustained cardiovascular workout from swimming by swimming for longer intervals at a consistent pace.

What other fitness activities do you enjoy?
Sabah: I like to do my cardio workout on the elliptical machine and work on the weight machines in the gym.  I also love taking yoga classes.
Ahmad: My favorite exercises at the gym include high-intensity interval training (HIIT) on a treadmill or elliptical machine in addition to free weights.

What do you like to do for fun?
We enjoy spending time with our kids, taking walks, exercising, and socializing with friends.  Sabah also spends some of her time writing articles for online newsletters.   As nerdy as it sounds, Ahmad also thoroughly enjoys his research and mathematics in general, in addition to learning about different cultures and languages.

Who or what inspires you?
To want to be healthy and feel energized is our inspiration.  We want to strive to be constantly active, up and about, and tend to our work, kids', and family's needs. We know we can't do that unless we strive to stay in shape and keep our muscles going.

What tip would you give to others who may be struggling with their fitness goals?
We would give the following advice to ourselves before passing it on to anyone else.  It is important to set one's excuses aside when it comes to taking care of the body. Our bodies have rights over us, and we should take care of our bodies by engaging them in a daily or at least biweekly workout routine.  Even just taking a brisk walk a few times a week can be enough to keep ourselves in shape.

What is your favorite aspect of the Alumni or Zesiger Center?
Sabah: I love the fact that the Alumni Center offers women's only hours in the swimming pool.  Since I am Muslim, I cover most of my body in front of men and therefore don't feel comfortable in a co-ed swimming environment. So the women's only hours were just an amazing opportunity for someone like me.  And not just that, the fact that I can take swimming classes during that time added to my amazement.  It really has been a golden opportunity for me and I am so glad that MITRecSports accommodates people from different backgrounds according to their individual needs.  It will be hard to find another gym like this one.

Alumni / Wang Member of the Month

Congratulations to the Alumni/Wang Members of the Month

Hannah Curtis

Hannah is an 8 year old girl who has a rare form of debilitating epilepsy (CSWS, ESES). She started having nighttime seizures at age 10 months, went mute at age 2 for 5 months, but her true diagnosis was not known until age 4 with the onset of daytime grand mal seizures. Hannah has been out of school for 2 years due to her disease worsening and her medication side-effects. At one time Hannah took 49 pills per day, although that number is now down to 12 pills per day across 7 medications. Hannah has been in special education since age 2.

Hannah began swim lessons at age 6 at MIT. Last summer Hannah's disease worsened, and after a number of different medications were tried, it was decided that a risky and aggressive6 month treatment of high dosage steroids was required. Hannah's weight went from 64 lbs in September 2013, to 141 lbs in February 2014, limiting Hannah to a wheelchair to traverse more than 50 feet due to severe leg edema and pain when walking. Unfortunately, Hannah's reaction to the steroids was severe, hospitalizing her twice for respiratory problems.

The only meaningful exercise Hannah could do during this treatment period was swimming. Hannah swam at MIT each day she could, some weeks 5 or 6 times per week. Had it not been for swimming, Hannah's physical condition from the steroids may have been even worse. The water allowed Hannah to move around without the pain in her legs, and move more naturally by minimizing the awkwardness of her enlarged and overweighted body.

Hannah has been off the steroids for 4 months now. The result from the steroids: Hannah disease has been reversed, reduced, and contained by the steroid treatment - all but a cure. Hannah's three epileptic foci have been reduced to one highly localized focus in her frontal lobe. The steroids worked.

Today Hannah continues to swim 3-5 times per week at MIT as part of her physical recovery plan. Hannah also takes aquatic physical therapy at Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital in Charlestown once per week. Hannah's aquatic skills and endurance continue to increase. Her weight is down to 114lbs and dropping. Hannah can now swim backstroke on her own for 20ft, and kickboard two laps. She continues to work on her "ice cream scoops" and "pizzas" strokes.

Hannah's goal weight is 80 lbs., and her swimming goal is to swim the backstroke by herself for a full lap. Hannah finds extra motivation when the lifeguards are watching her - "Look at me lifeguard! I'm swimming on my own!" - is often heard in the teaching pool when Hannah is in attendance.

Lifetime Fitness Award

The DAPER Lifetime Fitness Award is an award which recognizes MIT members for their contributions, hard work and dedication to athletics, physical education and recreation.  The criteria for this award include 20 years of involvement in personal fitness as a DAPER member and regular user and other various contributions to DAPER such as committees, teaching, assisting with teams, etc. MIT community makes nominations. To nominate an individual, please email This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

The award is given out at the Alumni and Zesiger Anniversary celebration.


2013- Christine Pizer

Read more: Lifetime Fitness Award

Annual Awards

Aquatic Member of the Year

In recognition of dedication to the Aquatics program and contribution to the MIT Recreation. Presented annually, voted on by employees awarded at the Zesiger/Alumni Anniversary celebration.

2013 Recipient-Liz Barnes

Fitness Member of the Year

In recognition of contribution to MIT Recreation and dedication to health and wellness. Presented annually, voted on by employees and awarded at the Zesiger/Alumni Anniversary celebration.

2013 Recipient- Vicky Palay

Read more: Annual Awards

Recreation Advisory Committee


James (JC) Cheng, Alumnus Dennis Jillson, Staff
Phil Alexander, Faculty Todd Billings, Staff
Alec Anderson, Undergraduate Student Tuka Al Hanai, Graduate Student

To contact the committee for information or questions email:  This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

The purpose of the Recreation Advisory Committee (RAC) is to provide input and/or advice to DAPER Administration concerning facility operations, programs, and activities as they relate to Recreational Sports programs, informal recreation and DAPER membership services.

Read more: Recreation Advisory Committee

Facility Hours

Zesiger Center
Mon - Fri: 6:00 am - 11:00 pm
Sat:  7:00 am - 9:00 pm
Sun:  9:00 am - 11:00 pm

Alumni/Wang Center
Mon - Fri: 11:45 am - 9:00 pm

Quick Schedule Links:

Swimming Pools

Open Recreation (Courts,Track, Fields)

Johnson Ice Rink

October 2014 Newsletter

News & Events

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