By Rebecca String
Elm Staff Writer
Exercising and staying healthy is a very important part of life for many students. Whether through sports or personal fitness, going to the gym can help improve not only the body, but the mind as well. Emerging plans for the expansion of the Johnson Fitness Center will benefit both health-conscious students and fitness enthusiasts.
Director of Athletics Brian Matthews hopes that the expansion will accommodate the afternoon influx of students, which is usually between 3 and 6 p.m.
Matthews wants to “get ahead of the curve before too many students start to complain.”
The fitness center was last expanded about 10 years ago, when there were roughly 1,000 students on campus. Now that Washington College’s student population is increasing, the building cannot accommodate everyone as well as it did before.
The new expansion will be an addition which will extend into the parking lot of the fitness center. Due to certain regulations, there are very few options available. While there is currently only an artist’s rendition of the expansion, the building will probably remain one story as adding a second floor would double the cost.
The project will ideally take a few months of construction, but the overall time is dependent on the amount of fundraising accomplished.
“We have not met with the architect to get their design, but we have talked to them about what we want and what we would need,” Matthews said.
The extension will rid the parking lot of a few spaces, and Matthews is very aware of what this will do to the parking situation.
“This is going to affect parking, but we are working to have the parking spaces moved to a location near the gym,” he said.
As WC hopes to better provide for its students, the new expansion will be closed off to the public. It will be for college students as well as faculty and staff.
Cidney Carter, a junior, hopes that as a part of this effort to provide for students the fitness center will extend its late night hours.
“The expansion will be nice, but when I work out, I don’t want to do it in the middle of the day. I’d rather do it late at night when I have more free time,” she
One major concern is where the funding for this project will come from. According to Matthews, the Johnson family has presented WC with a lead gift and is very excited about the new addition, but he is also aware that, “we are going to have to fundraise the money. We know we can’t take the money from other programs.”
Even though the official plans are not concrete, the estimated cost of the project is around $1.2 to $1.5 million.
The new annex will be mainly for aerobic exercise and additional equipment will be bought to fill the room. In hopes of limiting the restrictions on the gym for teams and other groups, Matthews hopes that this larger space will reduce some of the overcrowding and decrease the need for separate hours.
With the all of the aerobic equipment in the new section, only those who are looking to do aerobic exercise will be there, so the intimidation of other members using weights will be less pressing.
Junior Amanda Anastasia is interested in the new expansion.
“It’s a really good idea,” she said. “With more equipment available to use, more people will be willing to work out. It’s hard for people to fit exercise into their schedule when they don’t know if there will be any machines available.”