The Collegian
Saturday, December 09, 2023

New gym offers more luxuries

Anyone who has ever been bored at the gym has a few new toys to play with in the new Weinstein Center for Recreation and Wellness.

The 90,000-square-foot fitness center offers students and members a number of machines and gym accessories that were not available in the previous facility. Users of the cardiovascular equipment in the downstairs area can choose to work out in front of a wall of flat screen televisions or on machines with personal televisions.

Another noteworthy amenity is the use of hand scanners upon entry to the facility. Although many people are a little tentative about using it at first, they get used to it after a few visits, said Tom Roberts, director of recreation and wellness.

Junior Kristin Hurley said she liked the facility's modern look, but that the hand scanner seemed like something from a science fiction film.

"I think [the hand scanner] is creepy," she said. "I fear that if the cops ever need to find me, they can just come to the University of Richmond gym. It's too much."

A game room equipped with pool tables, table tennis and Dance Dance Revolution machines is another of the fitness center's new attractions. Sophomore Meg Kerwin said she thought the game room was a good addition to the facility.

"It's fun just to come and mess around before you go work out," she said.

Emma Anderson, a sophomore who has worked at the gym for the past year, said the game room was usually occupied but would likely become more popular at night.

"Most of the people I see are playing pool," she said. "I think people are a little embarrassed to play [Dance Dance Revolution]."

A coed sauna is another of the gym's new features that has garnered a lot of attention, although it was not in the initial plan for the facility, Roberts said. A committee of students and administrators met during the design stages and chose to make the sauna coed based on the feedback they had gotten from students, he said.

"It just gives [the gym] that kind of country club feel," Roberts said. "It's exactly what we wanted: a social place for students to come and unwind."

Although a few students were critical of the sauna being coed, Anderson said anyone using it is required to wear a swimsuit to ensure no one feels uncomfortable. Senior Balu Chandrasekaran had not had a chance to use the sauna because he had just recently heard about it, but said he was interested in using it in the future.

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While many students were impressed with some of the flashy new equipment, Chandrasekaran was pleased with one of the more basic additions.

"My favorite thing about the new gym is the locker room because they have all of those lockers now that I can use for storage," he said. "It makes it a lot more convenient to go work out. I know there's new equipment and everything, but for me that's the best part about the gym."

Although they have yet to open, a basketball court and an elevated running track are additions that many students said they were excited about. Sophomore Ali Hoffman said she was eager to use the track.

"I went to a prep school that had an indoor track, and it was really nice on cold days when I didn't want to run outside," she said. "Besides a treadmill, it gives you something to do."

Kelly Harris, associate director of facilities and operations, said the staff was encouraged by students' positive reactions to the new amenities, but that it was actively seeking student feedback about how the facility could improve.

"We're at a point now where we're soliciting a lot of information from our participants and our members here as far as what equipment they like, what equipment is being used more heavily, the arrangement of the equipment and things like that," she said.

The most common complaint has been that there is a lack of free treadmills and elliptical machines, Roberts said. He said he had also received some complaints that there were not enough flat benches, a sentiment that was echoed by Chandrasekaran.

"In all fairness, there are a lot of people concerned about not enough equipment ... but I really think that is going to shake down once we get over the New Year's resolutions, once we get over the novelty of the new building, once we open up the gym and the jogging track, and we add more hours," he said. "I do believe that the facility's design, size and the amount of equipment is ideal for this campus population."

Although she was generally happy with the new equipment, Hurley said it was not always easy to find open machines.

"I think people hog the machines more than anything," she said. "It's not necessarily that we need more; people just need to know when it's time to get off. It's ridiculous sometimes"

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