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Fitness center to open in old bookstore; new recreation facility possible

August 13, 2003

Renovations are underway that will convert the former campus book and supply store to a new, fully equipped fitness center.

The old book and supply store has been emptied of fixtures and a new tile floor is being installed this week for a full-purpose fitness facility complete with weight room and an aerobics studio, says David Davenport, director of university recreation.
August 13, 2003

Renovations are underway that will convert the former campus book and supply store to a new, fully equipped fitness center.

The old book and supply store has been emptied of fixtures and a new tile floor is being installed this week for a full-purpose fitness facility complete with weight room and an aerobics studio, says David Davenport, director of university recreation.

"There will be variety of new equipment, including treadmills and spinning bikesthat's the new fad now. We'll also have what's called pin-selected resistance equipment. It's more user-friendly."

The only equipment brought from the fitness center in the Dunn Center will be the free weights, he adds.

The facility is scheduled to open Sept. 1, though Davenport thinks Oct. 1 may be more realistic, as the construction company working on the facility also has begun work on Austin's, the new hamburger eatery opening on the west side of the bookstore.

A complete renovation of the Memorial Health Building has been approved by the TBR, and $7.5 million has been allocated for that purpose. As an alternate plan, administrators are exploring the possibility of building a new recreational facility where the Armory now stands.

"There's a bomb shelter under that building, so a lot of fill work would be necessary, but that is an option," Davenport says.

A new facility would take an additional $7.5 million investment, which University officials would seek through private sources.

Why make such a substantial investment in a non-academic initiative? Recruitment and retention, Davenport says. "Research shows that recreation opportunities are among the top 10 factors in student satisfaction, among both regular users and even 'non-users,' people who only use recreational facilities once a month or so.

"Unfortunately, we're behind the curve. MTSU, ETSU and other sister institutions already have state-of-the-art facilities."

Whether the recreational activities end up being in a renovated Memorial Health Building or a newly constructed facility, Davenport and his new assistant, Jennifer Puhl, plan to offer a lot of exciting new programs.

"We're going to offer Peay Play Partners, so those interested in playing tennis or racquetball and don't know anyone who plays can find a partner. We also hope to institute a jogging and walking club."

Davenport plans to offer therapeutic recreation for those with permanent disabilities. "We're looking to partner with disability services for that." He also plans to introduce residence hall competitions. "Maybe by doing that we can keep more students on campus over the weekend," he says.

He emphasizes the new programs and facilities are not just to benefit students. "We'll try to cater to faculty and staff, too," he says, "offering 6 a.m. classes, lunchtime workouts and 5 o'clock classes. Since most people get off from work at 4:30, we think that would be a good time for them to take a class."