Rec center’s birthday brings fresh lifting equipment

Some of the center’s equipment has not been replaced since its opening in 1993.

Hilary Brueck

The University Recreation Center is used by 3,000 to 4,000 runners, lifters and metabolism-raising enthusiasts every day.

For its 15th birthday, the ever-in-motion fitness destination is getting a tune-up.

New free weights and lifting equipment should be installed Monday – the first time these have been replaced since the building opened.

The Cybex resistance and variable resistance machines, which are also original to the rec center, will be switched out in the next two months.

The new equipment will cost between $500,000 and $550,000 and is expected to last around another 15 years.

Treadmills and elliptical machines are replaced every three to five years because of wear and tear, but the lifting and strengthening areas of the in-demand rec center have been in use constantly since its birth.

But some are less than thrilled about changes to their daily lifting routines.

First-year student Aaron Nordvik said he has been a lifter for four years and the real problem at the University is space. Often there is standing room only from early afternoon to evening hours.

He said instead of fancier equipment replacing the old stuff, lifters need more equipment so students aren’t waiting around and guarding benches.

“When it comes down to it, weight is weight,” Nordvik said. “Esthetically, it looks nicer, but it doesn’t seem as durable.”

Atul Kumar, a University research associate in the pharmacy department, said he has been coming to the rec center for seven years.

“You kind of develop a relationship with the machines over time,” Kumar said. “These (new) machines are so flashy. I’m really not comfortable.”

Many lifters agreed they just want more equipment to work on.

The new equipment includes heavier dumbbells, is easier to handle, is not as noisy and has rust-proof coatings, Tony Brown, an associate director at the rec center, said.

Director Jim Turman said routine maintenance to replace chains and moving parts on equipment is done at least once a year. However, even with constant repairs and maintenance, machines have limited lives.

Turman said new equipment “has better ergonomic design for people to use, for health and safety reasons.”

He said it is important to “keep us in the 21st century,” adding the equipment overhaul has been planned for years.

Exercise is now more about core strengthening and getting a full range of motion that “pinpoints muscle development,” Turman said.

Advances in technology, understanding of bodies and ergonomics have leant themselves to new machines with a greater range of motion.

Funding for recreation center improvements comes from a mix of general student fees – 46 percent of the cost – and memberships and revenue.