Over the past year, exercise equipment in the fitness center has begun to reach its maximum potential. Without a typical gym membership fee to provide money toward upkeep of the machines, Wittenberg has been unable to finance their maintenance and replacement.
Students will no longer see a treadmill or elliptical with the “Out of Order” sign placed on the screen, because the athletic and recreation staff has decided to remove them completely. Director of Athletics and Recreation Gary Williams said that they do not want to give students false hope that these unsalvageable machines will get fixed.
“Previously [the equipment], was purchased outright,” Williams said. “And whenever you purchase things outright, the issue is the maintenance, the upkeep and then the longevity.”
Williams, along with students, staff members and coaches, has been working toward the long-term plan to improve student satisfaction in the health, physical education and recreation center.
Women’s basketball coach Kelly Mahlum has been spearheading this project since last May. Though the timeline has been pushed back many times, Mahlum expects to see action soon.
“The most recent timeline that I was given is mid-February to the end of February,” Mahlum said.
However, just because the project will begin advancing in February does not mean that students will see full replacement at this time. In order to maintain financial stability, this will be a phased replacement plan. About half the equipment will come in at the end of this month, and the other half will come in at the beginning at the next academic year, in August.
Many students have been unsure about the fitness center, as little information has been known until now. Student and athlete Paige Vanerstrom, ‘16, expressed her concerns and excitement for the improvements.
“As a frequent user of the fitness center, it has been very disappointing and upsetting to me to only have four treadmills for the entire student body,” Vanerstrom said. “I’m looking forward to the new equipment coming in at the end of February and the beginning of next year.”
While the senior staff is planning to fund these improvements, the athletic department is still searching for a way to make sure this problem does not occur in the future. Though there is money that is dedicated to the new athletic facility, it does not go toward maintenance, but rather the “brick and mortar” of the building, Williams explained.
“We are trying to be really sensitive that students don’t want to pay another fee,” Williams said. “This is a bigger thing than treadmills just going up; this is a long-term plan.”
While this is another cost that must be financed, Williams and Mahlum are sure that this investment will be a benefit to a large percentage of the student body. And though it has taken longer than originally planned, the equipment will be returning to the fitness center soon.