University revamps gym service

Sean L. Wright

Significant improvements to the University’s fitness services are underway after negotiations between the Student Government Association and the Athletic Department.

Short-term goals include extending hours and replacing outdated and broken equipment, though these plans depend on both staff and financial availability.

A customer service hotline has also been added. The hotline is an e-mail account that has been set up for students to address concerns directly to the Athletic Department at [email protected].

This will also allow the Athletic Department to act more readily in resolving maintenance issues that may occur at the fitness centers.

Many students have voiced complaints about the current gym facilities, noting that equipment is frequently broken, thus increasing time spent waiting for an open machine.

“I spend more time looking for the weight I need than actually lifting,” said freshman Jim Saksa.

“There really needs to be more equipment so everyone can spend less time waiting.”

According to Alex Reynolds, a strength and conditioning intern at the Powerhouse (the varsity weight room), the staff recognizes the inferiority of the facilities.

“We know how to run gyms and we understand that the equipment is overused,” Reynolds said.

“When the machines are running straight through the day from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m., motors burn out and treads wear out; these are normal occurring problems.”

“It’s more than just the student complaints, but that didn’t hurt our motivation,” he added.

With planned extended hours, the South and West campus gym facilities would remain open until 11 p.m., two hours later than the current 9 p.m. closing time. However, according to Reynolds, chances of this happening are slim.

“It was a good idea at first, but it’s nearly impossible,” Reynolds said. “I e-mailed my staff to see if they’d be available and I got e-mails back that were like, ‘Are you kidding me?'”

According to Reynolds, there are also the problems of a limited budget to pay the staff for increased hours and the limited amount of time for the gyms to be cleaned daily.

The Athletic Department is also looking to hire a recreation director to oversee and supervise the two gyms. The current supervisor of the satellite facilities, Jeff Watson, serves as recreation director, as well as a varsity trainer.

“We are maintaining a very limited budget and lack the staffing needed,” David White, senior associate director for the Athletic Department, said.

He also noted that a recreation center for students is “a high priority.”

“We are working for the students’ needs and wants,” White said.

While no long-term solutions have been decided upon to date, proposals have been made for building new facilities in the Pavilion, Alumni Gym or behind the Connelly Center.

All of these ideas are currently being considered by SGA, whose goal is to represent student opinion as the groundwork is laid to improve facilities.

“The problem is that both satellite gyms are almost after-thoughts,” Jon Ambrose, chairperson of SGA’s Campus Improvements Committee, said. “A recreation center and intramural facility for all students in the future is the best solution.”

SGA plans to meet with the Athletic Department in the near future to discuss definite long-term goals and proposals, as well as funding for projects.