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$250,000 in Upgrades and Renovations Made to Campus Recreation Facility

Campus Recreation will unveil $250,000 worth of renovations and upgrades to the fitness center on November 15 at a grand reopening event. Pictured left to right is Dr. Ken Brown, UTHSC executive vice chancellor and chief operations officer, and J. Lee Taylor, director of Campus Recreation. (Photo by Allen Gillespie/UTHSC)

Renovations and upgrades to the fitness center at Campus Recreation in the UTHSC Student-Alumni Center on campus totaling $250,000 will be unveiled during a grand reopening ceremony November 15 from 12 – 2 p.m.

The renovations and upgrades began earlier this year and were completed in three phases. They include $50,000 in new weight room equipment courtesy of the Student Government Association Executive Council (SGAEC) and $200,000 in renovations and upgrades through funding from the Office of the Executive Vice Chancellor.

“We hope through these renovations that we will get more faculty, staff, and student participation in Campus Recreation,” said J. Lee Taylor, MEd, MBA, director of Campus Recreation. “We are a medical center and we are about health, and this facility is all about preventive health.”

Ken Brown, JD, MPA, PhD, FACHE, UTHSC’s executive vice chancellor and chief operations officer, emphasized the value in having a free membership to a state-of-the-art fitness center. “We are very concerned about the health and welfare of the people who work here and for them to have access to an exercise facility so they can maintain their health. What we wanted to do is really have a contemporary version of what a private fitness center looks like without the financial challenge that comes from having a membership at one of those places. Having a facility right here at work is a huge advantage.”

The fitness center gained an additional 1,773 in square footage after the removal of a wall that separated an exercise studio from the rest of the fitness center. (Photo courtesy of Laura Mooney)

The upgrades were a collective decision and a priority for the entire campus community, according to Dr. Brown. He said that Campus Recreation has been on an “evolutionary track upward” since Taylor became director in 2013.

The first phase began in early spring with the demolition of a wall that separated an exercise studio from the rest of the fitness center and combined the two areas into one functional space. The addition now allows natural light from the windows to shine through the rest of the fitness center, brightening the overall space. The ceiling was also replaced.

The second phase consisted of changing the flooring to Mondo flooring, a heavy duty, shock-absorbent, top-of-the-line flooring brand used by the NBA, NFL, and top athletic training facilities throughout the country. LED lights, which are environmentally friendly, uses less energy, and emit less heat, have been installed.

Last fall, the 2017 SGAEC Class completed a campus survey on what students wanted to see improved, and the majority of respondents wanted to see improvements to the fitness center. Collaborating with Campus Recreation, the SGAEC was able to contribute $50,000 toward purchasing new equipment for the weight room, which was the third phase of the project.

“SGAEC listened to the student voice and focused our attention on gym renovations with J. Lee as first priority,” SGAEC president Anna Evans said. “We desire for students to have the most enjoyable experience possible during their time at UTHSC, and renovating the gym was a way that we could make this happen.”

The SGAEC contributed $50,000 toward purchasing new equipment for the weight room through the SGAEC Campus Improvement Fund. (Photo by Allen Gillespie/UTHSC)

Through the SGAEC Campus Improvement Fund, Campus Recreation purchased free-weight equipment, including dumbbells, functional trainers, squat racks, and rowing machines. More than $11,000 was spent to refurbish and maintain circuit training equipment.

“The way we’ve been able to space out the equipment really does give those using the facility a tremendous amount of room to do their workouts,” said Suzanne Apperson, MS, fitness and wellness coordinator for Campus Recreation.

In addition, new audio equipment has been added. Mirrors were repurposed and used to line the walls on the opposite side of the windows, reflecting the natural light throughout. The total renovation of the space included the cardiovascular area, the circuit-training area, and the free-weight area.

Improvements will continue after the grand reopening. Plans are in the works to upgrade another exercise studio across the hall from the fitness center with new technology, including monitors with wireless connectivity so participants can stream their workouts. Fitness classes, including the yoga program, will also see improvements.

“You have a membership, come and use it,” Taylor said.

Natural light shines through windows in the newly renovated fitness center. (Photo by Allen Gillespie/UTHSC)