Relocation of BodyWise degrades an already unsustainable gym

UConn students walk near the entrance to the Rec Center on Sept. 1, 2015. (Ashley Maher/The Daily Campus)

With the institution of Next Generation Connecticut and its comprehensive accompanying document, Master Plan 2014, UConn is making major expansions to its campus over the next ten years. In the interim, the university will be relegating existing programs to provisional spaces in different buildings until construction is complete.

Such changes include the recent departure of Bodywise Fitness from Putnam dining hall to an area in the gymnasium where a weight room used to be. The addition of a new STEM-focused residence hall necessitates, to the administration, a new two-story dining hall. 

In turn, the gym functions are being affected. While there is only one weight room on the ground floor, the university implemented a small weights section on the second floor, in the area with the cardio machines and fitness bar miscellany. The weight room closest to the entrance – the one renowned for its claustrophobic conditions – appears to be no different in size, instead donning new platforms for preexisting bench press, squat and pull-up apparatuses; its layout is the only slight difference.

Considering how many people utilize the gym, this new arrangement will likely not work or prove to be frustrating, as nothing can be done about it immediately. With a unchanging number of students using the weight room, one less area available and smaller space allocated upstairs for cardio equipment, the gym space is simply insufficient compared to what was previously available, which was already deemed unsatisfactory by students unanimously. 

Furthermore, the presence of new weight equipment on the second floor serves to potentially obstruct people exercising on the cardio machines already present. While users of the weight room may not be on the machines as long as the cardio dwellers, the immediate access may compel to warm up on the already limited treadmills, bikes and ellipticals offered, again consigning students to gratuitous wait times or even an outright lack of access to equipment. Factor this with the new influx of Bodywise exercisers, people who may only workout within that forum and the UConn recreational center is now more uncomfortable and cramped than before.   

When massive construction projects occur, difficult and awkward changes must happen to give way to the eventual result. And hopefully it pays off. In the meanwhile, though, the inconvenient placement of some of the programs formerly established in distinct areas is undeniably annoying.

The students of today are cast aside for the plans for students of later years, and especially the money they will bring. One can reasonably conclude the new gym design will make for even more suffocating surroundings, harrowing workout experiences and fitness-based alienation.