BY Joe Yamulla || Sports Editor
This past year, I’ve devoted myself to CrossFit after falling in love with the fitness regime over the summer. I came back to campus in the fall and joined CrossFit Lancaster and have been working out there ever since. However, this article is not about CrossFit. Everyone has a preference on how to workout, CrossFit just happens to be mine. This article is about how changing my workout plan this past Summer was a blessing, because I no longer had to struggle to exercise at F&M’s extremely outdated, undersized, and frustrating fitness facilities.
I hope this resonates in other fitness-loving F&M students’ hearts. Let’s start with the Alumni Sports and Fitness Center (ASFC). The building itself is massive, and is somehow filled with nothing. Aside from the pool (which I will admit is beautiful), the ASFC is basically comprised of a small workout center, indoor track, and then empty space. If a student is looking to do any sort of lifting, there’s no use in walking across campus to come here. The dumbbells are old, rusty, breaking apart, light, and sparse. There isn’t a single bench, bar, or rack. There is only a smiths machine, and some other typical gym pieces like chest press and cardio equipment. All of this is jam-packed into a space that’s a fraction of the total ASFC.
So, it seems simple, right? If you like to do mainly cardio work on treadmills, ellipticals, or bikes, then your place is the ASFC. Then, if you are looking to do some strength training and hit the weights, the Pit is the place. I really wish it was this simple, but it’s not.
Just about every F&M student who works out wants to work on building strength at some point. This leads everyone to the direction of the Pit. Unlike the ASFC, the Pit actually has dumbbells without rust and quality bars and weights. However, it is small. Actually, it is comically small in relation to the amount of students who use it. Working out in the Pit is analogous to waiting in line for a roller-coaster. Instead of working out, and doing sets in enough of a rhythm to actually break a sweat, you spend most of the time waiting your turn to get a bench.
With the bad weather last week, the roads got so bad that CrossFit Lancaster had to be closed for the night. I still wanted to get my workout in for that day, and decided to go to the Pit. I walked in, and the gym was at least 25 students over capacity to start with. The moment I got a rack, I was pestered by several people asking when I’ll be done. I felt guilty that doing my actual hang-clean workout (which wouldn’t take more than 20 minutes) would bother the six pairs of eyes staring at me waiting for their turn. Then, I had the audacity to attempt some bench-press work. After waiting 30 minutes to get a bench, I called it quits and was filled with the frustration from a dissatisfying workout, a feeling that many feel far too often on this campus.
F&M expects all of its students, in addition to every single one of its varsity sports athletes, to share a hole-in- the wall facility to lift. If it weren’t for CrossFit Lancaster, I would never be where I am now, and I would never be able to reach my goals simply because F&M facilities place so many limitations on its students.
Yes, fitness is one of my passions, and this topic gets me especially emotional. However, this concern is relevant and present throughout the entire student body. F&M is doing its students a major injustice by not providing each and every student the fundamental opportunity and facilities to pursue their respective fitness goals.
With all of the talk about donors and their importance to the school recently, it is up to them to understand where their money is going. Instead of paying thousands each year to re-sod the practice football field, the school needs to start with basic renovations to the ASFC, and then look to expand and use its excess space for something productive. F&M is a small school, but not small enough that every student, athlete or not, needs to lift rusty dumbbells or feel cramped up in the space the size of a living room. This article is not meant to bash the school or its donors, but hopefully to make all parties aware that fitness is important and needs to be addressed. I know several students who have, like myself, decided to go out into the Lancaster community and pay membership somewhere else. College is expensive enough, students don’t want to pay anymore than they have to, especially when we could workout for free on campus. But, students do this because most times it is impossible to leave the Pit or ASFC feeling satisfied.
Our workout facility won’t get us higher on the Forbes list for top liberal arts colleges, so many in academia may see this concern and brush me aside as a fitness junkie looking to complain. But fitness is an essential part of life to help students achieve great things physically, mentally, and even spiritually. It is a safe-haven, a realm separate from the stress of classes that allows us to expel our every emotion in a beautiful symphonic combination of mind and body. Fitness helps students find happiness and maintain mental health, which is something that is not easy. F&M, your students deserve better. Improving the workout facilities on campus, just like improving the body, is a process and hopefully the administration can someday commit to it.
Sophomore Joe Yamulla is the Sports Editor. His email is firstname.lastname@example.org