Build a new gym on campus so students don’t die lifting weights

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Photo Credit: Chelsea Purgahn | Daily Texan Staff

When I walk into the free weights section of Gregory Gym in the evening after a long day of school, I feel intimidated. I stretch out my arms and worry that I’m going to bump into someone as I get through a workout in tight quarters. Many times, all the benches seem to be taken when I walk in.

Students like myself often stand around in Gregory, waiting for the 20-pound free weights or for a chest press. UT should add more space for weight training with more benches, stretching areas and free weights — or even a new gym altogether.

The main weight training room in Gregory is too small for the number of students who want to use it.

Both students who lift weights and who just do cardio said the space is overwhelming and, at times, unsafe. Brianna Gonzalez, public health junior, said the space is humid and intimidating. She said she would consider using machines or free weights to build muscle, but she feels overwhelmed and generally uncomfortable.

The cramped space also increases the chance for accidents.

“It’s not safe to have a lot of people in one area and lift weights,” said Carlos Villarreal, aerospace engineering sophomore who body-builds daily. “People can trip and not notice them and crush their fingers … It’s time-consuming to wait for a machine or something you’re trying to use.”

Right now, students looking for less crowded training options could look to weight training areas such as the Recreational Sports Center and Belmont Hall. But these are far away from where most classes and student activities take place. It’s hard to say where to put a gym. Perhaps we could put it in a more convenient location, like a block or two from Guadalupe. The International Office is off-campus at 2400 Nueces, so building a new University space off campus would not be unprecedented.

Jennifer Speer, director of communications, assessment, and development for Recreational Sports, said she and the other RecSports staff push students to use the RSC and Belmont because they are less crowded than Gregory. She said that RecSports relies on UT’s flat-rate tuition for maintaining and renovating existing infrastructure, not being able to construct new buildings.

“We actually know (a new gym) is probably needed with increasing enrollment and the square foot of recreation space per student to meet the national standard,” Speer said. “But we don’t have a funding source to figure out where we would go in the future for that.”

That said, students voted to tax themselves a fee of $20 a semester in March 1985 to build the Recreational Sports Center until the construction concluded, according to UT historian Jim Nicar. If students want a new gym, perhaps they could ask to increase their tuition and fees, which isn’t ideal, but perhaps necessary. Students deserve more hard work inside the gym, bench press by bench press.

Wong is a government and Plan II senior from McKinney. He is a senior columnist. Follow him on Twitter @calebawong.