Students feel cramped in Colorado State weight room

Two-and-a-half years after the student Recreation Center underwent a $32 million, 75,000 square foot expansion, many students who use the facility to lift weights are often times finding themselves bumping elbows in what can feel like a cramped environment.

During peak hours, the weight room on the second floor next to the track often times has weightlifters milling about or standing in line as they wait patiently for a piece of equipment to open up, students who use the facility said.

The rec center saw 865,118 visits in between August 2011 to August 2012 . That’s up almost 190,000 visits from Aug. 2010 to Aug. 2011, which reached about 653,650.

The renovated swimming area was open for its first full year from August 2011 to August 2012, drawing larger crowds to the facilities.

“Any time after 4 p.m., it’s going to be crowded,” said junior economics major Zach Vonthum as he pointed to the rack of dumbbells. “A lot of times that whole rack is empty and you have to wait for equipment.”

On any weekday afternoon, anywhere between 40 to 60 athletes can be found pumping iron in the weight room. Students stake out areas along the back wall, between aisles and around the various weight-lifting machines to curl, press and push stacks of weights and dumbbells. When someone is finished with a bench or piece of equipment, it’s quickly taken over by someone else.

“It can get bad,” said Cody Baker, a sophomore business major. “Sometimes you’ll leave for like half-a-minute then when you come back someone will have grabbed the bench you were using.”

When deciding how to upgrade the facility, rec center Executive Director Judy Muenchow said they hired consultants, received input from students, looked at what industry standards were for a university the size of CSU and looked at their budget to best determine how to allocate the money for different areas when the rec center was being renovated.

Restrictions on expanding onto CSU’s “Green Corridor” –– the patch of fields that run west from the Lory Student Center to Shields Street –– limited the footprint that the renovated building could make as well.

The facility was built to accommodate a student population of 30,000 to 32,000 students, Muenchow said.

She explained that it’s a challenge deciding how to allocate space so all the different user’s needs are met.

“We tried to make the best decisions for the amount of money and space we had,” Muenchow said. “It really all comes down to the budget and how much money you have to spend.”

Many students had mentioned feeling intimidated using a big weight room with the heavy lifters, Muenchow said. To accommodate those users, other weightlifting equipment was spread out over two floors and intermixed with cardio machines.

For students who spend most of their time at the rec center in the free weight room and feel conditions are a little tight, the future holds some promise. Rec center officials are considering adding more weight-lifting equipment to the area on the second floor that overlooks the pool.

Live webcams are also in the process of being installed so students can log in at home and see what conditions are like in each area before heading to the gym.

In the meantime, the one thing everyone can agree on to avoid the peak hour rush is to try to fit your workout in before 3 or 4 p.m.

“We time it specifically to avoid the crowd,” Baker said of him and his workout partner, chemical and biology engineer Michael Maher. “Early morning is really the best time to come.”

Senior Reporter Austin Briggs can be reached at news@collegian.com.