Fitness Favoritism: Student-athletes before students


BY SARAH HOLLOWAY – STAFF WRITER

Many Centre students have been in an uproar in light of recent developments concerning the popular Combo-Mix Aerobics class. The turmoil began when a campus-wide email was sent out stating that the class had been moved out of the Sutcliffe aerobics studio and into the small racquetball court in the Fitness Center. Tensions heightened when the new location could not accommodate the class’s regular attendance level, making the health and safety of the participants a concern.

Students took these concerns to administration and were met with the explanation that the aerobics room was in the process of being converted into a meeting/event room for athletic teams. It was also revealed that there was no plan in place for a definitive location for the many fitness programs that previously used the space.

This lack of consideration for non-athletes had many students up in arms.

“Incidents like this imply that fitness for the general student population is not valued as highly as for athletes,” senior Emily Bickel said. “Sports are great, but an athletic conference room should not trump fitness opportunities for students.”

The aerobics class caters to people of all levels of fitness and experience, creating an open and inclusive environment that makes it a popular way for students to exercise and relieve the stress that often accompanies Centre’s academic rigor. Marginalizing the sizeable population of students that took advantage of this resource without warning or explanation left the impression that athletics take priority over other worthwhile programs offered by the College.

Long-time fitness instructor Nancy Robertson went as far as to resign when steps weren’t being taken to remedy the situation. Despite several encounters with the Director of Athletics and Recreation Brad Fields, classes continued to be packed into the racquetball court and many interested students were turned away.

According to Fields, Centre has seen a 50 percent increase in student-athletes over the past ten years. This growth obviously creates issues regarding space, necessitating an expansion of facilities. This project has undergone several years of planning, and the conversion of the aerobics room into a conference room is one of the first steps. The lead donor put a time constraint on the project, making it difficult to adequately plan for the relocation of programs previously held in the space.

“We’ve been watching the aerobics room and its usage and I’m very sensitive to that,” Fields said. “It came down to bad timing and being able to organize the space that we had.”

Photographer: Michelle Kim

Photographer: Michelle Kim

Bad timing or not, the students and faculty involved should have been notified of impending change as a great deal of confusion and anxiety could have been avoided. The fact that the intention to convert the aerobics room had been in place for so long with so few people aware of it indicates a lack of communication and consideration that should be addressed for future issues concerning the renovation projects.

As far as the future of the aerobics class is concerned, the official location for the remainder of the fall semester will be Chowan. Nancy, who has V-stepped her way into the hearts of many, is back on board and will be teaching classes Monday and Wednesday 4:45-5:45.

Due to the immense popularity of this fitness class, the Athletics department is currently exploring the ideas of offering other sections or hiring an additional instructor, a position that could be open to students.

“There is more research to be done on the position as far as what certifications are necessary, but we think this would be a great job for an interested student-worker,” Associate Director of Athletics Gina Nicoletti said.

Centre can also look forward to renovations to Sutcliffe that are more conducive to the growing population. With more functional facilities and designated spaces for each program, all students, athletes or otherwise, can enjoy the fitness practices that are best for them.


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