The Strom Thurmond Wellness and Fitness Center completed a two-year long goal in February by installing new workout equipment.
Staff members noticed the demand for additional equipment when lines began forming for highly used machines. Not only did COVID-19 set the project back, but plans to update weightlifting equipment have been a mission for the staff for two years, according to the Director of Campus Recreation Mitch Nettesheim.
The updates, which were installed during the week of Feb. 15, include doubling the number of weightlifting stations available to students while also spreading out workout space into underutilized racquetball and basketball courts.
21 power racks and seven platform stations were added to give students easier access to exercises like deadlifting, rows, bench pressing, squatting and overhead pressing. New barbells are available and have different usages for deadlift platforms or weight racks for squats — the different types are indicated on each end-cap.
Guidelines for the new equipment and barbells are posted on walls near the stations.
Staff took note of places where lines formed frequently, such as the power racks and bench press stations, for the past three to five years, Nettesheim said.
“There was this impending demand that we weren’t able to meet,” Nettesheim said. He said his staff asked ‘What’s the most important thing for us to get?’ this year and decided "it was power racks and Olympic weightlifting stations.”
According to Fitness Coordinator Jonathan Almond, the best part of acquiring the new equipment was the university's ability to repurpose existing equipment instead of getting rid of it.
The updates faced barriers with COVID-19 and in purchasing a bid with Dynamic Sport and Fitness equipment, Fitness Director Michael Lagomarsine said.
“[COVID-19] shut the university down and our purchasing down a week before we were about to send out the purchase order and complete the purchase,” Lagomarsine said. “It was disappointing that it got cancelled then, but we all understood why … we all understood we had bigger things to worry about.”
New technology also allows users to scan QR codes to gain access to equipment tutorials, live-streamed Group X classes and online personal trainers. All of these resources are free for students. Students can access these resources on the university website.
Almond said he wants students who are going to the gym for the first time to not "feel like others around you know any more than you do."
“We want an environment where everyone feels like they’re learning and growing," Almond said.
As for Lagomarsine, he said he hopes the fitness center can support students wherever they work out.
“Once you come in and realize that everyone in here is working out for themselves — not to watch other people — then it makes it a little more comfortable and easier,” Lagomarsine said.
Lagomarsine said that the fitness center's protocols are evolving with COVID-19, but for now students should make a reservation to take advantage of the new equipment.