By: Abby Vance
University, Miss. –– Thousands of students are utilizing the Fitness Center daily to exercise, forcing the Turner Center to make adjustments to accommodate the crowds.
“On the first day of class, we had 3,300 people swiping in [at] the front desk,” said Jaclyn Falzarano, coordinator of marketing for Campus Recreation. This number includes only those utilizing the Fitness Center, basketball courts, or walking/jogging track upstairs –not those attending classes.
This is more than double the number of people using the facilities on a typical day. The Fitness Center averages 1,500 people going through the stalls on a normal day in the semester.
Last Monday, there were 157 students using the fitness center at 4:30 in the afternoon.
“On a typical Monday in the summer, we had roughly 30-40 people during our ‘peak hours,'” graduate assistant Cheyenne Clouse said. “Now, we are nearly triple that.”
Because of the influx of new students, the staff is trying to accommodate a growing number of students.
“We’ve increased the number of group fitness classes to get people out of the fitness center and into our studios,” Clouse said.
In addition, the staff has urged students to utilize “The Tank” on the first floor of the Turner Center, which is used for more circuit-style training.
Ole Miss student Hannah Ware, as well as many students using the gym, speaks of her frustration with the crowds. Ware has been using the Fitness Center since 2014 and has never seen so many students.
“It was never this busy. It’s a madhouse,” Ware said.
“There’s nowhere to workout or claim your equipment,” Ware said. “I’ve heard it’s not as busy in the early morning, but no college student wants to workout at 6 a.m.”
Even though many students use the gym as a place to “de-stress,” Ware says that the number of students using the Fitness Center counteracts the purpose of actually going.
“It just adds stress to the whole situation,” Ware said.
To alleviate the crowd, employees have also moved equipment around to provide more space for the more common lifting equipment.
“We’re adding versatile options for cable training and bringing in new equipment, and getting rid of the machines that aren’t multi-functional,” Clouse said.
Because of the influx of new students utilizing the Turner Center, many are eager to use the University’s new facility, the South Campus Recreation Center, when it opens.
“We were hoping to have the new center finished by January 2019,” Jaclyn Falzarano said, “but like most things, we’ve had numerous setbacks.”
The new recreation center will be 25,000 square feet, compared to 9,000 square feet in the Fitness Center. On the Campus Recreation Center webpage, there is information about what will be included in the South Campus Recreation Center, from fitness studios to a rock-climbing wall, which is the only indoor facility in north Mississippi providing such.
“Our cardio area should close to triple,” Clouse said.
The staff is also adding a new element to accommodate those who need wheelchair-accessible services.
“We will have a complete section that is ADA compliant,” Clouse said. Currently, there is not a complete ADA-compliant section at the Fitness Center.
Hannah Ware is eager to use the new recreational center in hopes of having more space.
“I’m really excited to use the new recreational center. It’s going to be right by my house so it’s super convenient.”
The South Campus Recreation Center is proposed to be open to students and faculty by Spring Break of 2019.