Students outnumber SLC fitness resources

Students work out in the SLC Tuesday. The fitness center is smaller than industry regulations, leaving not enough machines to support the growing campus. Matthew McCarroll | Lariat Photographer
Students work out in the SLC Tuesday. The fitness center is smaller than industry regulations, leaving not enough machines to support the growing campus. Matthew McCarroll | Lariat Photographer

By Jordan Hearne

Damaged equipment and a lack of space often cause problems for active students in the McLane Student Life Center.

Some students, such as Austin senior Jamie Jacobs, think the fitness center of the McLane Student Life Center is inadequate compared to the number of people who use it.

“The SLC equipment is not horrible, but the quantity for the size of our school is,” Jacobs said. “All in all, the SLC needs a revamp and needs a higher quantity of machines and weights with a bigger space.”

Kim Scott, director of campus recreation, said the size of the fitness center is smaller than it should be.

“The industry standard for a fitness area is one square foot of space per user. If we have 15,000 students, by the time we add in faculty and staff and spouses, the area is small,” Scott said.

She said the fitness center has about 9,000 square feet, but the idea of expanding the SLC has been explored.

These plans would include an additional weight room, along with basketball courts and group fitness rooms.

“We want to start thinking about it, talking about it, but it’s a little pricey,” Scott said. “It’s on the horizon.”

Clint Patterson, coordinator for fitness, offered a temporary solution to students trying to avoid the high traffic of the fitness center on weekdays.

“Our viewpoint seems to be that between 3 p.m. and 9 p.m. is the largest crowd in the fitness center. We have staff here from 6 a.m. to midnight daily, and obviously you would need to accommodate your own schedule and life into that,” Patterson said.

In addition to working out at a different time, students now have another on-campus option to avoid the crowded SLC. Patterson said this semester the fitness department partnered with Campus Living and Learning to put the Green and Gold Gym on the basement level of Martin Residence Hall.

“We staff that and that’s available for workouts at different times throughout the evening and afternoon,” Patterson said.

The Green and Gold Gym has 10 to 12 weight machines and is open to all students as an alternative to working out at the SLC.

The gym is open from 3 to 6 p.m. Monday to Friday and from 8 to 11 p.m. Monday to Thursday and 7 to 10 p.m. Sunday.

Another issue students have noticed is the amount of time it takes to repair broken machines in the fitness center, including both the cardio and weight training areas.

Jacobs said the length of repair time is too long.

“For instance, the second stair climber was out for weeks with a sign on it saying it was out of order,” Jacobs said.

Patterson said the fitness and campus recreation staff works to cycle out old, out-of-date equipment no longer under warranty or showing signs of excessive use.

“This past summer, we replaced a lot of the treadmills, so those should all be within the last couple of years,” Patterson said. “We also replaced a couple of ellipticals.”

Scott said treadmills are replaced every three years and funds have been set aside specifically to replace cardio equipment.

In addition to replacing machines, she said, during the Christmas holiday, cardio machines are moved based on high usage in some locations.

“Ones closer to the door or at a certain spot in front of a fan in the room get additional use, so we rotate them around,” Scott said.

Scott said the staff tries to avoid replacing broken weight machines until the holidays.

“The last day of finals to first day of spring [semester], we replace any machines that need repair. We don’t want it be out of commission for students during the school year,” Scott said. “That’s the kind of stuff students don’t see.”

Patterson said in the last month the fitness department has tried to focus on customer service when it comes to equipment maintenance. An equipment strength team made up of student workers in the fitness center have the job of noticing damages, reporting the issues and, whenever capable, repairing them.

He said if the problem is something that cannot be fixed on site, manufacturers can be contacted to order parts if necessary and find out the next step in solving the problem.