Campus fitness needs flexibility

By Editorial Board

Columbia has made long strides in recent years to improve campus fitness initiatives. The Fitness Center, 731 S. Plymouth Court, is open to all students, the school has acquired South Loop Elementary School’s gym for evening sports practice and every student housing center has fitness facilities. More group programs have recently been announced, like the Fun Run clubs and Back to Nature Boot Camp.

The big thank you is due to Mark Brticevich, Columbia’s coordinator of Fitness and Recreation, for his dedication and creativity while working to improve the college’s workout options. He is the face of Columbia’s fitness program, and his hard work has not gone unnoticed by students aware of campus facilities.

But for 11,922 students, one coordinator and his available resources are simply not enough. A majority of students live off campus, making the Fitness Center’s use inconvenient. With just a handful of lockers, two showers and zero towels in each locker room, the demand for use after group activities could interfere with students’ schedules.

There are several things Columbia should consider doing differently in order to make its fitness initiatives more accessible for all Columbia students.

There needs to be more awareness. Students are confused about access: Some think the Fitness Center is only for residents of the 731 S. Plymouth Court Residence Center; others are confused about the hours; some don’t know the center exists; and many students are not aware there are locker rooms.

Second, providing an adequate number of lockers and showers is essential. The Fitness Center does have two showers and 14 lockers available, but some students who have used the Fitness Center several times were unaware such facilities existed. It’s next-to-impossible for commuting students to consider working out on campus without guaranteed availability of these amenities.

The Fitness Center’s hours could also be adjusted to be open earlier. For many commuters working out before class is ideal, but the gym isn’t open to non-residents until 11 a.m. Extended morning hours would give students more flexibility.

If Columbia wants to accelerate its level of accessible fitness, it should rev up the process of partnering with neighboring colleges, or try partnering with gyms throughout the city. Until more amenities are added, most students are left paying for facilities they are insufficiently informed about or lack the flexible scheduling to take advantage of.