By Mike Oliva
The College unveiled the newly renovated Physical Enhancement Center in Packer Hall to students on Monday, Sept. 12.
The renovations include the aesthetic improvements of new flooring and new paint, additional ellipticals, stationary bicycles and treadmills, as well as new kettle bells and weights.
Electrical work has been finalized to maximize the usage of space more effectively; a plan for the addition of flat screen televisions is also in place, according to Athletic Director John Castaldo.
The changes, which were expected to take place following the Spring 2011 semester, carried over into the current academic year, putting a damper on training regimens for many.
“For the first three weeks all we could do was run outside, and it put a huge delay on our lifting,” said freshman health and exercise science major and lacrosse recruit Sam Iacouzzi. “Not being able to use the gym before our fall ball started is definitely a minor setback.”
Steve Gibson, sophomore communication studies major and a member of the varsity swim team, is also being forced to play catch-up after lost weight room time has negated the strength gains he made over the summer.
“After having no weights at all for three weeks, I’m now working out just to get back to where I was physically in the summer,” Gibson said.
When questioned about the delayed openings, Athletic Director John Castaldo explained the extensive bidding process with vendors.
“We visited other colleges to see how their facilities were set up. We analyzed the pros and cons of their vendors and aimed to secure the best possible equipment in order to get the most for our money. That process itself takes a substantial amount of time,” Castaldo said.
But some varsity athletes are taking the setback in stride.
The football team’s summer practice camp, which usually involves heavy use of the weight room throughout the month of August, was forced to modify its routine due to the delays.
“The team could only worry about what was available, not what wasn’t available,” said senior quarterback and health and exercise education major Jay Donoghue. “The (new) weight room is nice, but it could be much larger with more equipment.”
Some students, unhappy with the renovated Physical Enhancement Center’s offerings, feel that the College should have reached out to more regular gym-goers during the project’s planning stage.
“Another huge problem is there is only one bench press,” said senior philosophy major James Ferrie. “My attitude towards life has always been ‘rather be benching,’ but now it’s extremely difficult when there is a list of people waiting before me.”
Castaldo felt differently about the collaboration.
“Our doors are always open to all of our campus community for suggestions to the development of both weight rooms,” he said.
In order to deal with the many exercise-demanding students at the College, the Physical Enhancement Center requires that students make 30-minute reservations for all treadmill and elliptical machines.
Several athletes complained about the delayed access of the varsity weight room, which opened last week, after the Physical Enhancement Center.
Senior biomedical engineering major Kevin Froster said that before the athletic weight room’s opening last week, the Physical Enhancement Center’s weight room was “too packed” and the crowd made “it impossible to look at (his) biceps in the mirror when (he was) lifting.”
According to Castaldo, the College had anticipated opening the athletic weight room at the same time as the Physical Enhancement Center, but mold was discovered while the renovations were being made.
However, the $50,000 project to clean up the mold was expedited, enabling the athletic weight room to be opened last week, Castaldo said.
Hurricane Irene, environmental regulations and delays with suppliers were the other reasons for the overdue opening of the varsity weight room, according to Kirsten Clark, senior associate director of athletics at the College.
The athletes weren’t the only ones who suffered from the delays. By opening the Physical Enhancement Center before the varsity weight room, students were forced to share limited workout space with athletes.
Many students were forced to alter their athletic routine because of the crowd.
“Both athletes and students in the same weight room tend to make it pretty crowded most weekdays,” freshman health and exercise science major Summer Thomas said last week, before the athletic weight room’s opening. “I sometimes just have to leave and get my workout in other ways, like running the loop around campus.”
Despite not having a weight room over the summer, junior linebacker and secondary education major Greg Burns was optimistic about the renovations.
“I think the changes were great for the school and a step in the right direction,” Burns said.
Now that both gyms are open, Castaldo anticipates that many students’ gym experiences will become much more positive.
“All in all, when both weight rooms are up and running, I believe our athletes, student athletes and community will be very pleased with the changes, keeping in mind the fiscal challenges that we faced,” Castaldo said.