by Diana Petrovich, Staff Writer
The over-crowding of the fitness center is a long-standing tradition that occurs annually upon students’ return to campus from winter break. For the week of January 31- February 6, a “sign-in” log was left on the fitness desk, and all users of the weight room were asked write the date, their name and their affiliation with Saint Vincent College before they entered. Many faculty, administrators and students willingly gave the information without asking questions; some stopped and asked weight room attendants “Why?” before signing; and a few did not notice or ignored the request completely. For all fitness center users, the “sign-in” log was the beginning of a reassessment that aims to positively improve the Saint Vincent fitness experience.
Assistant Athletic Director Sue Hozak said that now was as good of time as ever to reevaluate the fitness center’s capacity to accommodate to the Saint Vincent community. “We were trying to determine student usage [of the fitness center] so we can evaluate what type of improvements we need to make,” Hozak said.
In addition to recording the number of visitors the fitness center sees each day, the log also asked signers to identify themselves as students, athletes, faculty or administrators. Hozak said that this will better point her and fellow athletic department members to certain areas of the weight room that need the most improvement.
While there have not been major decisions to renovate the weight room, there have been many complaints.
“Really, things like this should be done periodically, just like the cafeteria gives surveys to find how they can better tailor their menu to students’ wants and needs,” said Hozak. Hozak said that that fitness center is an important aspect of campus life that needs to have continual improvements in order to stay applicable to students; student cooperation in studies and surveys such as the “sign-in” log is very important to getting the process moving.
Strength and Conditioning Coach and Fitness Center Coordinator John Bell agrees with Hozak on the fitness center being a major part of campus life.
“The students are paying for it, so it ought to be something worth their money,” Bell said. Coach Bell also mentioned that the request to have users sign in was also beneficial for keeping tabs on who is using the weight room—more importantly, making sure that it isn’t being used by people who are not allowed to be using it.
“When we have people from the community, peoples’ friends and graduates in there, it takes a toll on the equipment that current students are paying for,” said Bell.
With the post-holiday season being the most popular time for the fitness center, there have been plenty of complaints of the ill-accommodating equipment and machines. Bell said that foremost, there is a great need to look into replacing some of the equipment in the fitness center. The cardio machines (stationary bicycles, treadmills, elliptical machines) are outdated.
“The upkeep of these machines is costly. When parts break, they are hard to come by, and a machine could be out of order for up to 6-8 weeks,” said Bell. Bell spoke of newer, high-end cardio machines on the market that have television screens built into the display panel, but could not promise that the Saint Vincent fitness center would be seeing any of these soon.
Many students are ready for a change in the fitness center. Sophomore soccer player and fitness center attendant Emily Taylor agreed that the cardio machines’ being out of order is a real problem.
“It’s kind of a hassle when you go to use a machine that you expect to work and it doesn’t,” Taylor said. “It shouldn’t be like that.”
Fr. Emmanuel Afunugo, O.S.B, said that if he could make one change to the fitness center, it would be to add some equipment.
“I know that [the fitness center] is state of the art, but I would like to have more machines like the elliptical, because they are not always available when you want to use them,” said Fr. Afunugo. He added that not many people come in to lift weights, so increasing the number of cardio machines would be more practical.
While the plans for changes, renovations and upgrades are still in the earliest stages, it is important that the students, faculty, and administration recognize that the process is underway and comply with requests from the athletic department. Complaints are planned to be matched with improvements, hopefully in time to accommodate the heavy, post-holiday, fitness center rush.