Resolute students pack gym, wear down machines

by Beacon Staff • February 4, 2009

Rows of people line the treadmills, and the machines whir in constant motion, while students leaf through fitness magazines close by, waiting to snatch up the next available machine, leaving none idle. This is the scene to be found on any given day in the lower level of the Little Building, home to the Emerson College Fitness Center.

With the beginning of a new semester, students are fulfilling their New Years resolutions by getting to the gym. Current daily visits range between 300 to 400, significantly more than the 50 visits per day at the end of last semester.

The Fitness Center, run by corporate fitness company Plus One Fitness, is coming up with some creative ways to handle the new traffic. Five new classes have been added to the Group Fitness schedule. Box and Burn, Cardiosculpt, Glutes and Guts, and T'ai Chi are all new fitness choices for Emersonians looking to shed a few pounds. Starting this week, a Zumba class, which combines energetic dancing with resistance training set to the tempo of Latin music, will be added on a trial basis to the schedule on Monday and Wednesday nights from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m.

"There have been more requests for classes, which helps with crowd control," said assistant manager Shannon Peterson. Almost all of the fitness classes, she said, are full.

In an attempt to reduce theft, the center has now begun providing locks free of charge, a new policy initiated by the Emerson College Police Department. Peterson said all 75 of the women's overnight lockers for rent are already taken.

"That's the first time in the four years I've been here that's ever happened. We're busier than ever," she said.

Men's overnight lockers are still available for a fee of $44 for the semester. Men's and women's day lockers are also still available.

While the new locker policy may offer peace of mind about the security of ones' new Nikes, it doesn't make the hunt for lockers any easier. Emerson Community Relations Coordinator and self-proclaimed gym-rat Mary Higgins, who was at the Fitness Center last Tuesday for the 6 p.m. Cardiosculpt class, said the fitness center is exponentially busier at this time of year.

"I could barely get a locker. One girl offered to share hers with me," said Higgins.

Fitness center manager Katelyn Haggerty Angotto describes the dramatic increase of gym members as a double-whammy.

"People's workload is less at the beginning of a semester, and resolutions make a difference too," she said. This means the Fitness Center gets hit twice as hard, she said. "With the large crowd comes more wear and tear."

The larger crowd doesn't just mean waiting around for a locker, but for machines as well. Because the machines are almost constantly in use, there is a 30-minute limit for the use of every machine, which most gym-goers take full advantage of.

The center recently purchased new treadmill equipment, which should be appearing in the gym within the next two weeks. Haggerty Angotto said the gym is also trying to buy some new strengthening equipment, if their budget permits.

Many students, like junior Emily Willoughby, are going to the fitness center to make good on their resolutions to stay fit and shed those holiday pounds.

"I felt like I needed to get healthy again," said Willoughby.