UREC Activity Center should open earlier

The Activity Center should open at 6 a.m. in order to be more inclusive of students with early morning classes and help ease gym traffic.

The gym currently opens at 7 a.m. on weekdays. If students arrive as soon as it opens, they can get through an hour-long workout by 8 a.m. Allowing a few minutes to check in, find the right equipment, and re-rack weights, they will likely be out the door by 8:10 a.m.. For students with 8:30 a.m. classes, 20 minutes is not nearly enough time to shower, gather their supplies, have breakfast of some kind and get to class on time. Moreover, with only three squat racks and a handful of benches, people are often subjected to long wait times for the Activity Center’s most popular equipment. Spreading out gym traffic over more hours could also help alleviate this problem.

Christopher McAlpine, University Recreation’s associate director of facility operations, said that a primary reason for opening the Activity Center at 7 a.m was the difficulty of recruiting student workers to staff the gym earlier in the morning. Student workers must arrive fifteen minutes before the gym opens, and a lack of bus routes that early in the morning would make this difficult.

However, DART has recently expanded their bus schedule, providing transportation starting at 5 a.m. for all routes and at 4 a.m. for their most frequently used ones. Now would be a good time for the Activity Center to reevaluate when their employees are able to arrive on campus and see if that would make an earlier opening possible.

Another concern is that there isn’t enough demand for the gym’s earlier hours to warrant extending them. McAlpine said there are usually only 25-33 people in the gym at 7:30 a.m., compared to an average of 72 at 4 p.m. and 62 at 8 p.m. But going back to an earlier point, I’d argue there are people who want to utilize the gym in the morning but don’t because the current timings make it difficult for them to workout early without being late to their morning classes. This makes logical sense since “morning people” who would prefer to work out before 7 a.m. are likely also those who are enrolled in the earliest classes of the day.

Opening the Activity Center at 6 a.m. would allow people that like to work out early but also have morning classes the opportunity to hit the gym without worrying about missing their classes, and would generally help spread out gym traffic. If students are willing to hit the gym at 6 a.m.–freeing up equipment for those who would rather go later–they should have the opportunity to do so.