Funds limit plans for crowded Kresge gym

by Kristen Grauer | 11/20/03 6:00am

With only four treadmills and a limited number of exercise machines, using the Kresge Fitness Center can frequently be a frustrating experience for fitness-minded students. Those wanting to secure their 15 minutes of cardiovascular workout sometimes call hours or even days in advance to reserve one of the highly coveted machines.

"We all realize we need a bigger fitness center -- the current one is inadequate," said Roger Demment, Associate Athletic Director. However, this concern about the current situation of the fitness center is not a new one.

One of the major obstacles to creating an adequate fitness center is funding. Demment spoke of the "rough financial times" Dartmouth has faced for the last few years, and Berger referred to the "number of intense priorities" faced by administration. The lack of funds has been the limiting factor for improving the fitness center both in the past and now.

In the winter of 2001 the Student Assembly passed a resolution allotting $3,700 to purchase a new elliptical machine for the gym and imploring the College to increase what the Assembly called a "woefully inadequate" budget to go towards the expansion of the space. In response to their request, Dean of the College James Larimore allocated an additional $8,000.

Despite these advances, the fitness center is still in need of renovation. The current center is 4,000 square feet, which Demment described as "very small for a college of our size." The gym has a tendency to be overcrowded, especially between the hours of 4 to 7 p.m.

"The center has a lot of equipment that people need for a good workout, but it's very over-crowded so it can't accommodate all the people who would like to use it and is crowded for the people who do use it," said Sarah Berger, an intern in the athletic department, who has recently met with the Assembly to discuss plans for the potential expansion of the facility.

The athletic department has consulted representatives from fitness companies for advice on how to best use the limited space, and the current configuration represents an optimum use of the space. This means that in order for more equipment to be added, there needs to be more space.

A long-term plan does exist for the fitness center to be relocated to the second floor of the Alumni Gym, but until then the athletics department is trying to determine the costs for expanding the current center -- at least until the larger one can be built, Demment said.

"A lot of the impetus for improving the fitness center is from the fact that the long range plan probably won't take place for six to 10 years," Demment said. And even then, the degree of change in the current facility will depend on how much interest there is from the student body, he said.

"We are still in the process of gathering estimates on what certain innovations or improvements would cost, and these innovations range from replacing equipment to expanding the space," Demment said.

"We are at a time where fitness and wellness is an ordinary part of people's lifestyles," Berger said, "and my personal hope is to help the fitness center be a place that really supports students' life better."

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