Committee ponders fitness room improvements

Committee ponders fitness room improvements

by Bryan GeelanSports Editor

Simpson’s fitness room could be getting a makeover.

A committee made up of administration, faculty and students has been meeting throughout the fall to discuss possible changes to be made to the fitness room on campus, located in Cowles Fieldhouse.

According to Athletic Director John Sirianni, the current configuration of and equipment in the fitness room causes several problems for both athletes and non-athletes.

“There are issues with bottlenecks at the racks, long waits for cardio equipment, and the pulley system is old, inefficient and not space-effective,” Siranni said.

To combat these issues, Sirianni headed the 16-member committee that discussed what could be done to improve the facility. The committee consisted of representatives from the student body, faculty, coaches, athletic training, strength and conditioning, and administration.

In the three meetings the committee held, the representatives of each of the sub-sections provided input as to the types of changes and improvements they would like to see.

“The first thing we did was to identify our needs,” Sirianni said. “From the student body and the faculty, they wanted more cardiovascular equipment, and more efficient and effective multi-station machines. From an athletic perspective, the biggest issue that we’re faced with is time efficiency.”

Senior Laura Meihofer, a representative for the students, held conversations with people she has come across in the fitness room to try to get an idea of people’s main concerns.

“I was supposed to see from the people who were of the general fitness population, what they wanted to get out of it,” Meihofer said. “There are people who are really avid exercisers and those that aren’t; I had to look at both of those.”

In addition to more general equipment, some students expressed the desire to have separate a room for athletes and non-athletes to avoid congestion.

“A lot of people have a problem with exercising at the same time that all of the athletes are,” Meihofer said. “People liked the idea of having a separate fitness area, such as a cardio room.”

However, Meihofer explains that there are issues with designating a separate facility for non-athletes.

“The main concern with a separate fitness room is making sure that the non-athlete room isn’t second class,” Meihofer said.

Besides adding another room, re-arranging the current facility is another viable option.

“There is definitely some wasted space,” John Pauley, professor of philosophy and religion and a faculty representative on the committee, said. “In the absence of an addition or additional space somewhere else, we need to make better use of the space.”

Besides the issues brought forth from the general fitness population, the strength and conditioning program had some suggestions to improve the facility for student-athletes.

“We want more platforms, squat racks and benches,” said Becca Carstensen, assistant volleyball coach and assistant strength and conditioning coach. “We would also like to see some more dumbbells and more pairs of certain weights that get used a lot.”

Simpson’s weight room currently has seven platforms. According to Nate Seberg, assistant strength and conditioning coach, platforms are vital to the strength and conditioning program.

“What we get out of platforms is greater efficiency out of a compact space,” Seberg said.

Seberg notes that platforms provide an area to perform several lifts, including hang cleans, bench press, and squats. To increase the number of platforms would help with wasted time in a workout.

“The number of sessions that we hold for our student athletes is three to four a day,” Siranni said. “We have a lot of kids in there going through their routines, and there is tremendous amount of wasted time.”

The committee also researched other weight rooms and fitness facilities throughout the Iowa Intercollegiate Athletic Conference to see where Simpson stood among the other eight schools.

The study, performed by Seberg, looked at several aspects, including total square footage, whether or not schools have separate facilities for students and athletes, and when current facilities were last renovated.

The research showed that Simpson has the second smallest weight-room in the IIAC (5,000 square feet), in front of only Wartburg. However, Wartburg (along with five other schools) has a separate fitness facility besides the weight room.

“Our feeling is that 5,000 square feet is not a bad size for a weight room, if it’s a weight room by itself,” Seberg said. “When you start adding cardio equipment and general fitness equipment, the size and efficiency of the room is decreased.”

The research also showed that Simpson last renovated the fitness room in 1996. Every other school in the conference has renovated at least since 2000.

“I don’t know how you can ignore fitness facilities at colleges,” Pauley said. “If we want to compete with other schools in this conference, we have got to have first-rate facilities.”