Mary Ragsdale Fitness Center opens doors
September 18, 2009
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Towards the end of last semester, rumors began to spread about the construction of a new fitness center. No one dared believe it entirely, but students did return from the summer with high hopes for their new work-out regime. On Tuesday Sept. 8, these rumors were fully celebrated as reality. At 10 a.m. there was a ribbon-cutting ceremony, and this new fitness room was officially opened to all Guilford students.
Dubbed the “Mary Ragsdale Fitness Center,” this new facility is an undeniable upgrade from Guilford’s previous fitness center, and it’s nearly three times its size. At 9,100 square feet, the center features a new turf area, designated for stretching and rehabilitation.
“It is a bigger area with more machines, and this will benefit everyone,” said athletic director Tom Palombo.
According to PE Manager Mike Merkel, the new facility also boasts at least six additional weight machines, two new treadmills, and two ellipticals.
As far as appearance, the new center could not be more different from the old one. Instead of the drab off-white cinder block walls, the walls of Mary Ragsdale are painted in various bright shades, and are complemented by brushed silver siding.
“It looks very much like ‘The Rush,’” Merkel pointed out, after explaining the steps they took to imitate the style of the popular chain fitness center.
In addition to its flashy new look, this fitness center favors many new technological accommodations.
Four brand new 50″ flat screen TVs are installed in the center, two of which will be located in the cardio work-out area. New and more energy-efficient lights have also been put in, and according to Merkel, there are plans for a lounge area within the center, which will have wireless internet as well as a TV.
“We are hoping to find the money to install a stereo system,” Merkel added. The desired stereo system would be equipped with ipod capabilities, as well as a P.A. system for making announcements.
Another technological upgrade to expect is a new swipe card system, which will allow students to access the fitness center. This is a new policy and is anticipated to be slightly unpopular. Since Sept. 1, students have been required to present their Quaker Cards upon entry to Ragan Brown Field House.
“It’s a little more inconvenient,” sophomore gym-goer Michelle Severance admitted. “But pretty soon, it will just be automatic.”
Despite this small bother, the advancements in Mary Ragsdale are abundant.
Unfortunately, this new facility did not come without a cost. The construction was only made possible by filling in the long-time beloved Guilford pool.
“We have a space problem,” said vice president for enrollment services, Randy Doss explained the reasoning for closing the pool.
By putting in a fitness center in place of the pool, space has opened up for classrooms and exercise studios.
Another factor in the decision to fill the pool was the economic aspect.
“The cost to repair the pool was over $1 million,” Doss explained. “And it was getting relatively little use,” he pointed out.
For those who used the pool, however, it will be sorely missed.
“Eliminating the pool doesn’t just effect the swim team,” explained sophomore Rebecca Bacon, a varsity swimmer for Guilford. “It effects the community.”
“Swimming is a great work out,” she pointed out, “and it is a lot easier on your joints.”
“We’re definitely, as a team, going to use the fitness center,” Bacon said. “But it will be weird knowing I’m working out where the pool used to be,” she admitted.” I really do want the pool back.”
Doss and the athletic program acknowledge that the loss of the pool is extremely unfortunate.
“It is our hope that we do eventually have a pool,” Doss stated.
Directly following the ribbon-cutting ceremony, students and faculty streamed into Mary Ragsdale to explore the spacious new facility. As people began stretching on the new turf area, the whirring of treadmills started up.
“I’ll probably do a lot of cardio now that there are nice TVs,” sophomore weight room assistant, Alex Philhower said. “I’ll have a reason to stay on the treadmills longer.”
First-year Casey Mann agreed, “The TVs are sweet. I’m probably going to start using the turf a lot for jump-roping.”
The size of the gym seemed to impress nearly everyone, but especially students who had spent years working out in the old fitness center.
“It’s nice not being in a closet,” joked senior Kyle Boylan.