Taylor Gym expands fitness space, addresses needs of female students

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In an effort to expand fitness space, address women’s needs and maximize the use of new rooms for fitness intramurals and club sports, Taylor Gym underwent several changes this summer.

Campus Athletics has surveyed students throughout the past few years and found that the major concerns stressed about Lehigh’s fitness center included the need for more cardio space and equipment, women’s weight training and a lack of opportunity for club sports in certain areas.

In order to solve these issues, Campus Athletics decided to make some major changes, which were driven by significant alumni interest, said Assistant Athletic Director of Campus Athletics Doug Strange.

Strange said the wrestling program has moved to the top of Grace Hall, leaving an opportunity to expand fitness space on Taylor Gym’s fifth floor. Several weight machines, mirrors and dumbbells, which were previously located on the mezzanine, have been relocated to this floor.  The purpose of this new fifth floor, Strange said, is to service club sports, women’s weight training, fitness classes and also offer a space to certain student groups for their practices and pursuits.

Many women using Taylor Gym now believe their only option is to lift weights on the lower level with the men, which has caused some complaints with regard to comfort. Strange says women will soon have a space on the fifth floor after the process of re-purposing and constructing this new area is completed.

“It can sometimes be intimidating on the ground floor; some girls can feel awkward lifting weights in front of guys,” said Ryan Spirko, ’16, facility supervisor. “It’s a personal preference, but if girls feel uncomfortable, they will now have an alternative.”

The newly cleared mezzanine area is now filled with over ten cardiovascular machines, which meets the demand for more equipment.

Spirko said that one of the many new pieces of equipment is a self-generated Helix machine.

“It’s like an elliptical but for lateral movement instead of forward motion, so it mimics slalom skiing,” said Spirko, who has tested out the machine himself.

Molly Fitzwilliam, ’16, said the new StairMaster is an improvement from the old one because it simulates actual stairs instead of just feeling like an up-and-down motion.

Another major priority of Campus Athletics is to implement a system called “Fitness on Demand,” which is co-funded by the Dean of Students Office, Human Resources and Campus Athletics. The program will be located on the newly renovated fifth floor and will encompass a variety of different classes.

Tori Bonsall, ’16, and Emilia Bublik, ’16, both said lifting weights on the lower level with the men is very crowded, overwhelming and provides almost no mirror space. Both have enjoyed having access to the new fifth floor area. Bonsall said she particularly enjoyed the Fitness on Demand classes that she took and that they were well-attended and provided the right amount of challenge for her.

Strange said Campus Athletics is satisfied with its services but also encounters shortfalls that it is trying to address, which takes both space and money. He said they are fortunate to have this opportunity to capture the space for intramural, fitness and club sport opportunities.

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