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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Weight room’s fate unclear

    The weight room in the basement of Bear Down Gym may be in jeopardy as the department of campus recreation considers closing it down. If it closes, students like biosystems engineering junior Austin Folley would have to find a new place to pump iron.
    The weight room in the basement of Bear Down Gym may be in jeopardy as the department of campus recreation considers closing it down. If it closes, students like biosystems engineering junior Austin Folley would have to find a new place to pump iron.

    It’s a weight room tucked away in the center of campus, without wait lines, where you don’t have to change out of your jeans to lift, and most students have probably never heard of it.

    But the weight room at the Bear Down Gymnasium, located underneath the basketball courts, may be closed sometime in the future if the department of campus recreation decides the room doesn’t fit in its budget.

    Antony Hsieh, a molecular and cellular biology sophomore and Student Recreation Center health monitor, is working to make sure that doesn’t happen.

    Hsieh said he is concerned that the weight room will be shut down in three years after the Rec Center finishes its planned expansion because it doesn’t attract enough patrons to make it worth funding.

    Hsieh said he thinks most students don’t know about it, and part of the problem could be that the facilities in the Bear Down Gym aren’t up to the same level of quality as those in the Rec Center.

    “”The Bear Down isn’t the cleanest place in the world and not the nicest,”” Hsieh said. “”But all the machines are there, minus the cardio.””

    Dustyn Holt, a finance junior and one of the weight room monitors, said between 20 and 30 people use the facility on any given day.

    The weight room is open from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. and from 3:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. every weekday.

    To make the weight room more attractive to potential users, Hsieh said he is asking for help from campus departments and private family donations.

    Mark Zakrzewski, director of fitness at the Rec Center, said the chances of an immediate closure for the Bear Down weight room are slim, but he wouldn’t rule out the possibility of closing it when the Rec Center expansion finishes.

    “”It’s too early to tell what we’re going to do right now,”” Zakrzewski said.

    Campus recreation’s budget is extremely tight this year both because of the expansion project and a possible rise in wages for its employees, said Richard Romero, an associate director in the department.

    Plans for expansion call for doubling the size of the current Rec Center weight room, which might make the additional weight room less needed.

    But closing the Bear Down Gym weight room is only one of many options for dealing with those budget restrictions, Romero said.

    Zakrzewski said other possible ways to pare down the budget include reducing the operating hours of the Rec Center, changing staffing patterns to meet the needs of its users and canceling certain fitness classes.

    One class, scheduled for 7:30 a.m. during the spring semester, has already been eliminated.

    Hsieh said he wants outside donations for things like carpeting, TVs and new paint in the Bear Down weight room so that more people will want to work out there.

    Zakrzewski said a new coat of paint wouldn’t be a bad idea, but the ongoing cost of maintaining carpet and paying for cable TV might make them more expensive than they are worth.

    Romero said the Bear Down Gym is up to code for 1926, the year it was built, but bringing the building up to code for modern times would cost at least $5 million.

    The weight room, with no air conditioning or new equipment, “”could use some love,”” Romero said.

    Hsieh, who also works as a personal trainer, said he takes his clients to the weight room and has yet to meet someone who doesn’t like going there to work out.

    Dennis Rodriguez, a pre-business freshman, said he lifts in the Bear Down Gym about three times per week.

    The weight room there has all the necessary equipment with a nicer atmosphere than the Rec Center, Rodriguez said.

    A few patrons said they liked having just a small group of regulars.

    “”It’s kind of like a club in L.A.,”” said Sean Benjamin, a media arts sophomore. “”You have to find it first.””

    More information about the Rec Center expansion, including how it will affect the overall campus recreation budget, will be announced to the public at a forum from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. today in the Rec Center, Room 220L.

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