By ARDEN IGLEHEART
Walking into the new Fitness and Recreation center, students can see a 28 foot tall, red cylinder suspended from the ceiling. The cylinder is visible from every angle on the north side of campus, and according to president Ronald Vaughn, symbolizes the healthy heart of UT.
“There is another building block here, and what a magnificent, beautiful, building block it is, on the campus of the ever-growing, ever-improving University of Tampa,” said Jim Ferman, chair of the Board of Trustees, in a speech at the grand opening of the center on Friday.
Housed on the first floor are over 100 cardio machines, offices for campus recreation, a lounge, and three group exercise rooms. A work room for campus coordinators is dedicated to Margaret McNiff, the namesake for the previous fitness center.
Students cited the large number of machines as a benefit to the center as compared to the McNiff Fitness center, which was demolished in May. Kacy Rabinowitz, a sophomore elementary education major, said it would encourage her to work out more often.
“I feel like I can come now whenever I want; I don’t have to just come any time because there’s enough machines for everyone,” Rabinowitz said.
Because of the large size of the center, the university hired more student employees than it had at McNiff. In the first few months of the new center being open, gym staff will track how many people visit and determine if an even larger staff is needed.
“If there are more people than we think, they’re going to hire more students,” said Sandy Shwe, a graduate student studying exercise and nutrition science who is also a weight room supervisor at the gym. “So I think it’s really great for the campus, the students, [and] everyone.”
Group fitness studios are each equipped with a large projection screen. A small tablet on the wall in each room has a list of different workout videos that can be displayed on the screen for gym goers to exercise along with.
Over 60 exercise classes will be offered at the new center. Classes began Tuesday, September 6, and a schedule is available on UT’s website. The center features new classes such as barre fitness classes, and classes that use “the Frog,” a machine with bars connecting two sets of wheels. Users place their hands and feet on the bars, and contracts their abs to contract the machine and roll the wheels closer together, putting them in a frog-like position.
On the east side of the building, there is also a basketball court with a seating area and the school has plans for a sand volleyball court
While most students are satisfied with the design of the new gym, some are left wanting more.
“I wish they had put the basketball hoops indoors because it can get really hot out there,” said Andrew Buonfiglio, a freshman finance major.
The second floor houses weight machines and one room on each side with free weights. There is also a separate spinning room, a classroom space, and a yoga studio.
Chanel Manzant, who teaches yoga at the center, believes that the new space will benefit her yoga classes.
“By being in here today, the students are just so excited to be in this space,” Manzant said. “So I think we’ll use that energy, that excitement in the first few weeks of classes, to build excitement, and to build our classes up, and to really get students into fitness and the yoga side of things.”
During the opening ceremony, campus administrators stressed the importance of health for academic success, and Manzant believes that access to more yoga classes will help students academically.
“Yoga is such a beautiful practice, and students can take what they need from it. If they need to feel centered, they can take that, if they need to feel calm or if they have anxiety, wherever it is they’re coming for, if they’re coming just for the physical aspect, they can find it here in the yoga class”.
The fitness center is not complete. Phase II will expand the center by another 20,000 square feet, and will include classrooms and lab spaces for human performance and health sciences.
Arden Igleheart can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org