Flagler faculty members and students show concern for fitness facility

By Isabella Pazmino| ipazmino@flagler.edu

Sophomore Nicole Mera’s favorite time of the day is at 7 p.m. as she puts on her fitness clothing. She said she feels eager to relax and let go of all the stress that comes with college life.  When she walks into Flagler’s fitness facility, she finds herself in a crowded, limited space in which there are no free treadmills or ellipticals.

 “The gym is too small. There are not enough machines for everyone. Sometimes, I have to wait 15 to 30 minutes for a machine,” Mera said. “I think as students we deserve a better gym or at least one that meets students’ needs.”

Freshman Isabella Nilson said that as she is also disappointed about the amount of space and machinery found in Flagler’s fitness center, there is also a lack of interest from authorities to improve the center.

 “I have seen faculty members at the gym plenty of times and there is no way that they are not aware of how crowded the gym can get sometimes and how there are not enough machines for everyone,” Nilsen said. “I just don’t understand why they [authorities] haven’t done anything about it.”

Larry Weeks, director of business services and campus planning, said he is aware of the shortcomings of Flagler’s fitness facility and more importantly has a strong desire to improve it.

“The gym is a big concern for the school,” Weeks said. “We are always looking for improvement, for additional space. We have thought about expanding the gym but because of the building’s design but we don’t know how easily it is to expand the back.” 

Weeks said that the optimum would be to have a separate facility for athletes and staff. However, for now, the business office is trying to add more cardio machines.

“If we can make it happen, we will add the machines next year,” Weeks said.

Even if the expansion of the fitness center is yet to be seen, Weeks said that the administration has invested in improving other aspects of the facility.

 “The facility has a new lightning system, [Flagler College] is expecting to save $31,000 a year because of this new system,” Weeks said. “We also have three new ellipticals and three new treadmills, not to mention we added a new wall and two windows at both ends of the wall.”

 Before the addition of the wall, the gym was closed during athletic events. According to director of athletics Jud Damon, now students can enjoy the fitness center during an athletic event and athletic teams can play their game without any distractions.

“It was very annoying from a game management stand point to have all these students hanging over the edge. It looked bad,” Damon said. “The new wall has engaged the game environment and practice. I think it has helped in the appearance of the gym as well. It looks good from this side.”

Damon said the administration is doing the best they can to improve the fitness facility but the cost for such improvement is high.

 “I would love to see a nice, new, big fitness center but unluckily, we don’t have a building to do it and it costs a lot of money,” Damon said. “The fitness facility is heavily used by the general student body, faculty staff and student athletes. We are trying to put a card swift at the gym to track actual usage. Hopefully, we can gather enough information to say that the gym is too crowded and that there is a need for additional room.”

Weeks said Flagler’s faculty members need the consent of the Board of Trustees any time the college wants to spend money.

“We are trying to find a way of counting students to justify expanding the gym,” he said.

Weeks said that for now, the business service office is working on improving the Flagler field.

“We are building a new Flagler field locker facility with four dressing rooms,” he said. “We are also improving parking and the entrance to the field. It should be finished by the end of December.”

Weeks said the business office is also renovating [Flagler East Coast Railroad] building A.

“The renovation will be done by fall semester,” he said.

Despite the need for an improved gym, Damon said he is thankful for the present fitness center and said there should be a more positive attitude towards the facility.           

“We do the best we can with what we got. The facility was so different four or five years ago. They made a significant upgrade, it used to be not nearly as nice,” Damon said. “Most coaches were here before the space got renovated and are thankful for what we got.”

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