The time of the year when a turn at the treadmill in Helen Newman Hall Fitness Center means an hour’s wait is here. The stretch between winter break and spring break has always been the busiest time of the year for fitness centers across campus, as students cram into the gyms to get in shape for their vacations.a
Edward Chalen ’09, a member of Cornell Fitness Centers, was frustrated when trying to work out in Helen Newman on Monday.
“The gym was very crowded. I tried to get a treadmill but all the [time] slots were taken,” Chalen said.
Many gym users can relate to Chalen’s situation.
Darrell Wilson, director of Cornell Fitness Centers, explained that New Year’s resolutions, the desire to get fit for spring break and the single digit temperatures outside are the main causes for the crowdedness.
“What we’ll see is as the weather gets better, [the attendance] will go back to normal,” Wilson said.
According to Wilson, the past couple of years have shown the attendance peaking around February. Last year, there was an average of 699 students using Helen Newman per day in February and an average of 706 students the year before. The heavy use continues in March, which, – despite having a week off for students – had an average of 553 students last year and 537 the year before.
Students who are looking for a workout after class will find it hardest to make the most out of their visit.
“If you’re coming around dinner hour, it’ll be tough no matter what,” Wilson said.
Human traffic even slows use of the gym on the weekend.
“I am surprised to see that at 10 [p.m.] on Saturdays there are people using the gym,” said Andrea Dutcher MILR ’87, director of Helen Newman and recreational activities.
When asked what would be the best time for a quick workout, Dutcher recommends weekdays between 9 – 11 a.m. and 1 – 3 p.m., which can pose as a problem for the vast majority of students who are attending class at that time.
Wilson said that although the University is responding slowly, it is planning well for the high demand of fitness equipment needed to satisfy the student body. Appel Fitness Center was opened in fall 2001, and the University waits for Noyes Community Recreational Center, part of the West Campus Residential Initiative, which is scheduled to open in spring 2007.
Appel serves as an alternative to Helen Newman on North Campus, while Noyes will be a more equipped replacement for the Class of ’26 Fitness Center, which will be torn down. The new facilities are much needed because the number of CFC members has been greatly increasing over the last few years. Last year, 52 percent of undergraduates and 53 percent of graduates owned memberships, as opposed to 43 percent and 22 percent, respectively, during the ’98-’99 academic year.
The service hours for Helen Newman had to be increased because of high demand. Open hours were pushed to 6 a.m. so that the staff can get an opportunity to use the facility. Despite the earliness of the new hours, students adjusted their schedules.
“We get between 50 to 60 people between 6 to 8 a.m., and half are students,” Dutcher said.
Appel, which has less equipment, has served as a great alternative to Helen Newman for some students. William Warner ’08 describes Appel as cleaner, better smelling and having a more welcoming workout environment.
When asked if going to Appel rather than Helen Newman saves him time, Warner responded, “Yes, I think it’s more time efficient because it’s less crowded and it’s closer.”