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The great train “rec”

During my stint with The Oracle, readers have often heard me complain about USF’s fitness facilities. Compared to the fitness centers of the University of Miami, the University of Central Florida and the University of Florida, the facilities are uncomfortable and inadequate for the 30,000-plus people that have access to it.

There are confusing waiting lists for most of the cardio equipment, and getting to use a weights machine during the peak hours of 5 – 9 p.m. can easily become a fight to the death. Students feel that the main issue is space.

“It just needs more square feet,” said international relations student Doug Wercinski. “I don’t work out there a lot but I would if they had more space. It is the most poorly designed gym I have ever seen.” Wercinski suggested making additional space on the second floor for more weights,

Some intramural or club sports have expressed concern about certain facilities, such as the USF track, that are not readily available for use.

Of course, the gym has a few redeeming qualities. There is no monthly fee for USF students, which is wonderful for the cash-strapped and fitness-minded. Somehow, the staff manages to cram several quality fitness classes, physical education classes and intramurals into the crowded space. During non-peak hours, exercisers can find an adequate number and variety of machines. Wercinski also commented that the rental system is excellent. Students at USF can rent equipment over the weekend at no cost.

The USF recreation center is definitely not the worst college gym I’ve seen; West Point had a musty, antiquated gym not much larger than a classroom for a body of 4,000 cadets, all of whom were required to exercise daily. Although bigger and better in this respect, USF still does not get points for ventilation, especially with about 1,000 sweaty bodies.

The upcoming Student Government elections have brought the situation at the rec center back into focus. Some candidates propose extending the hours that the gym is open. Personally, I think it would be appropriate to demolish the gym and build a new, state-of-the-art facility in its place. Since that is probably impossible as well as inconvenient at this time, remodeling the gym and purchasing new equipment, especially new Ab-Rollers, resistance bands, and light dumbbells, would be helpful. Also, opening the track to students more often would increase the amount of useful running space at USF. To finance this, Wercinski suggested an increase in fees. Many of us would not mind paying a few dollars more for a new and improved workout experience.

In the meantime, there are a few things you can do to get the most of your USF workout experience:

Use the gym during non-peak hours. It is quite pleasant from around 9 a.m. — 3 p.m. Absolutely avoid it at all costs during prime time.

Use the Argos fitness center or the fitness center at your apartment complex, if you have one to complete your weight and cardio workouts. Use the USF gym for its fitness classes, racquetball, basketball and aquatic center.

If you are new to exercising, have a trainer guide you through a workout. That way, you won’t waste time trying to find the machines you’d like to use.

Enjoy an outdoor workout of running or walking around campus or around one of the local parks. For a strength workout, use the fitness trail located across the intramural fields. Very popular in the 1970s, fitness trail workouts involve a series of stations at which you perform callisthenic exercises aided by wooden benches, rings and bars. One performs a certain number of repetitions for each exercise and run or walk from station to station.