Broken gym equipment blamed on overuse

by Beacon Staff • April 11, 2007

Extremely outnumbered and adorned with signs that read "This piece of equipment was injured in the line of duty," the machines are losing.

Fitness equipment machines have been breaking down one by one.,Inside Emerson's fitness center, students have decided to wage a war on worn-out work out equipment.

Extremely outnumbered and adorned with signs that read "This piece of equipment was injured in the line of duty," the machines are losing.

Fitness equipment machines have been breaking down one by one. Currently, the casualties include one treadmill, one Stairmaster and one irreparable weight training device in the last few weeks. Another broken treadmill and weight machine were fixed recently.

However, this epidemic doesn't have much to do with the quality of the machinery, but rather with the quantity of students using it, according to Shannon Peterson.

"It's really an overuse," said the Emerson grad student and fitness manager. "The numbers are getting higher with students coming in from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. every day, so they are being used for pretty much that amount of time."

According to Peterson, this is the first semester the fitness center has had this sort of trouble. She said the fitness center presently has more than 1,500 members, much more than the average 1,100 in previous years, which she says is too many people for the small amount of equipment the facility has-only about 50 pieces.

While she can speculate, Peterson said she doesn't know the exact reason for the sudden increase in gym usage.

"I don't really know. I've been trying to figure it out myself," she said, but thinks it might be because the gym became free just last year, and now everybody knows about it.

Sara Hogan, a junior broadcast journalism major and fitness center employee, reasons that it is a result of Emerson putting a stronger focus on athletics recently, with the building of the gym in Piano Row.

"Emerson is really changing and becoming more and more athletic, so more people are working out," said Hogan.

The broken equipment is causing enough congestion to raise complaints from students and even from employees like Hogan who use the gym on a daily basis.

"Since the gym is so small as it is, we have limited equipment," Hogan said. "When a machine breaks it causes a lot of havoc because people have to get to classes on time and also, when machines break and backups happen, they get really agitated because they can't do their work out."

Peterson sympathizes too. "You see the lines, and you see the treadmill that's been out now for a week and the bikes that are kind of squeaky and stuff," she said. "I know people are starting to get a little frustrated."

Aside from just having to wait in long lines to use a treadmill, students are also concerned about their safety.

Junior audio/radio major Amadeus Junqueira said, "I think it's a shame that they don't take better care of their equipment because somebody could actually get hurt."

Still, Peterson and other fitness center employees have little control over the situation. An outside company called Gym Services is in charge of actually fixing the broken machines when they're reported.

"It's kind of like the cable guy when they say they're going to be here between 7:00 and 12:00 and you have to sit there and wait," said Peterson. "They say sometime this week they will be in, but sometimes they find bigger problems and it turns into two weeks."

In the meantime, Peterson claims that there are still things that can be done to prevent future damage.

"What we can do is really just stay on top of it and try to show people how to use it correctly because a lot of it comes from overuse and incorrect use," said Peterson said. "Also, maintaining equipment and replacing it when it's needed."

For example, while several of the treadmills were replaced just last year, Peterson guesses the two ellipticals will be next on the repair list due to their age and popularity.

Additionally, Hogan said while plans have not been discussed or initiated among Emerson personnel, other ideas on how to decrease gym traffic have emerged.

"There's been people suggesting that they move the cardio equipment into the Cabaret when we get the new building in Downtown Crossing but we don't know if that's going to happen," she said.

The new building, The Paramount, is expected to open in 2008 and will include two separate stages for performances thus reducing the need for the Cabaret. If the fitness center fails to acquire additional space, Hogan firmly believes something needs to be done.

"Until we get more machines, or better machines," Hogan said, "they are just going to keep breaking."