Give Me Space: The Current State of Fitchburg’s Rec Center

By Holly WentWorth  

I’m sure students, faculty members, and alumni can agree that we are in dire need of a larger fitness center.
According to employees of the Recreation Center, about 300 people per day work out there. On busier days, that number increases exponentially, and the space can only fit up to about 55 people. When you break that down, it just doesn’t work.
In 2015, the total enrollment at Fitchburg State was 6,598 students, and the amount of full-time faculty was 209. These numbers continue to grow with each passing school year, and according to President Lapidus, this was the second-highest number of freshman in the history. With that high of an enrollment, it begs the question of how anyone is able to work out without feeling claustrophobic.
Recently, there has been talk about another gym being built at the Civic Center for athletes only. When looking at the numbers, there would be widespread benefits for gym-goers. In the context of available workout space, half the problem comes from team workouts that take place there. Imagine all 17 women’s cross-country runners crowded into the gym that only fits 55 people. That is already 31 percent of the maximum amount, and that’s the smallest team we have. Even worse— imagine all 97 football players using the gym. Not only is the current space too small to fit the football team, it also raises the issue of other students, outside of that specific sport, not being able to use the fitness center during that time. This is a serious problem, further compounded by the fact that the aforementioned gym for athletes is currently not in development, as the only reportable work that has been accomplished to prepare for the gym is a new floor.
Some students choose to bypass the fitness center completely. Whether they choose not to work out, perform their workouts in spaces other than the gym, or they have a membership at another gym to avoid the space problem. Since students have access to the recreation center for free, people are willing to spend up to $20 a month to feel comfortable while working out. This has been an ongoing issue, and there seems to be no progress on the fitness center projects currently being talked about. Instead, these projects are being pushed further down the construction list.
This raises an important question: when will the health and comfort of the students take priority over other, smaller projects? Looking at the numbers, our current fitness center is far too small for the enrollment at Fitchburg State. Students want to avoid the freshman 15; however, they prefer to feel comfortable when doing it. Fill out this poll and tell us what your problem is with the fitness center: (Fitness Center Poll).  
An empty gym at the Recreation Center  proves that this small area is not enough for Fitchburg State; a bigger gym would mean more people.