Feature Article - June 2007
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Campus Recreation

And in fitness centers, as in locker rooms, more variety is coming into play, as well as a respect for the different ways people choose to work out.

"What we're seeing is more facilities that want to have a variety of neighborhoods of fitness equipment," Freedman said. "You might have an area of circuit, an area for heavy weights, an area for light weights."

This allows different kinds of people to feel more comfortable using their selected workout machines.

"Athletes and men tend to use the heavy weights; women use the lighter weights. Some people weave in selectorized machines with the cardio," Freedman explained. "So this way, you don't have to walk from one end of the building to another."

Another way the fitness center is adapting to its variety of patrons, Freedman said, is by offering places to see and be seen, as well as places that offer more privacy.

"Some people like the big social place—you go in your beautiful workout clothes," she said. "And while there probably are people who thrive on that, there are more people who feel less good about their bodies and thrive on privacy. So you might have pieces of cardio equipment in much smaller groupings, or in a bay window looking out at the view outside. That way, somebody who's still trying to lose 50 pounds feels more comfortable over there, and not like they're in the meat market."

Women's programs are also on the rise, Freedman said, and that corresponds with some design trends in campus fitness facilities as well.

"Women are becoming more than half of the student body, and they're getting more interested in fitness and exercise," she said. "We're seeing more and more people pay attention to women with things like the lighter-weight areas and more privacy."

The variety of equipment is growing as well, with more kinds of machines for people to work out on, from the expected stationary bikes, treadmills and now-ubiquitous elliptical trainers to things like cross-country ski machines, rowing machines and more.

"We're seeing more square feet per student in the fitness area, and some of that may be because fitness equipment is getting larger, and because people are more aware of the space needs around the equipment," Freedman said. "There's ever more variety of equipment out there, and people want to spice up their routines. You need a variety of equipment to do that."

Variety and flexibility of space extend to the group exercise rooms as well, where more schools are asking for rooms of varying sizes to suit a wider variety of activities and class sizes.

"Where you'd get two group exercise rooms of the same size before, you now divide that square footage up into more rooms," Freedman said. "That way, the instructors can see more people in the room and give more individualized instruction. Also, when you have four rooms instead of two, some might be more private and some might be more visible."