Fitness Center: For better or worse?

Her jaw tightens, her eyes bulge, and the huge veins in her arms match her apple red face. Seventy-six year-old Mary Davies grunts as she lifts her 5-pound dumbbells. She has been working out at Castleton’s fitness center since the beginning of September and comes three times a week for roughly 30 minutes. She says she’s one of about 20 senior citizens she sees at the center on a regular basis.

Davies called the facilities “great” and said she wishes that more people her age in the community would take advantage of the gym.

“If I knew I was going to live this long I would have started coming to the gym a lot sooner,” she said with a little chuckle.

Going to any gym is something Davies could have done a lot sooner, but going to Castleton’s fitness center is a different story.

The fitness center at Castleton, which cost over $1 million to construct, is one of the newest buildings on campus, having opened in January 2005. It features state of the art treadmills that sport televisions with 71 different channels to choose from.

The center also has a rock climbing wall, free weights, nine bikes and five elliptical machines.

If getting more students to work out was the intent, they may have just succeeded. Nickie Benway, who works at the center, said she can’t believe how many new faces she has seen since she started working there.

Greg Dwyer, a junior who is in the gym daily, said he too has seen a lot of new faces at the new gym this year. Dwyer believes he has seen major improvements in his muscle mass since he began using state of the art machines.

“It’s so nice to have a gym where the weight benches and weights are not duct taped together,” said Dwyer, referring to Castleton’s previous facility. “Last year we were stuck in a little corner with limited amount of machines, now there is nothing that you can’t do in this gym . It’s truly amazing.”

Out of 30 students at interviewed who said they didn’t go to the gym last year, 28 said they now go at least two times a week.

When Sophomore Darcy Tomlinson was asked how she felt about last year’s gym, she hesitated, laughed and said, “wait we had a gym last year?”

Many students work out to improve their performance in athletics. Being able to work on many different aspects of your body is something that has become very vital, athletes and coaches said. With the improved equipment, coaches can now give their players better workout plans, which they say will improve their performance during the season.

Ted Shipley, who coaches basketball and baseball, is a big believer in lifting every day for 30 to 45 minutes. Shipley says a lot of people don’t realize how physical division III can be. Now that he has a facility to work with that is arguably one of the best in Vermont, he feels as though he can expect his players to be bigger, stronger and faster.

Freshman soccer standout Cass Lions, who played every minute of every game last season, said going to the Fitness Center every day is the biggest reason why he was able to have such a successful season.

“I had no doubts that after the season ended I would stay in the same shape because the fitness center allows you to stay on top of your game,” he said.

But while many students love the new gym, some dislike that many seem to go there just so they can say they went to the gym.

Freshman Alex Visnicky said he feels as though the gym is a place to workout, not a place to sit around.

“I just hate the fact that people sit on the machine and talk to their friends for 20 minutes when other people are waiting. If you want to sit around and talk about the latest Gossip at CSC go to Fireside,” said Visnicky.

But Visnicky’s biggest complaint is that C.S.C. failed to buy a scale for the gym.

And other students feel that now that the gym has attracted more people, there are fewer hours to actually go in and work out. And because there are many different classes that Castleton offers to students that take place in the gym, the opportunities are even fewer.

The gym is open Monday and Thursday from 6:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m., but the other five days of the week vary from closing at 4 p.m. to closing at 8:00 p.m.

“I would take the small gym that smelled bad before I would take this one. At least I could work out whenever I wanted,” said sophomore Tim Laws.

And while some love the TVs on the treadmills, others say they were a bad idea.

“If people were that serious about getting in better shape then they would have been here when the gym sucked. Yes having the TV’s on the treadmills is nice, but when it comes down to it you are here to work out not to watch The Price Is Right,” said Jennifer Sasso, a sophomore.

Castleton Sophomore Richard Rielly said it’s disgusting and un-motivating to see people watching TV while they try to burn their extra pounds.

“We might as well set up a concession stand right in the gym where we can hand them cheeseburgers and Mountain Dew right after they finish their workout,” he said.

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