If you’re a returning student, you may have noticed that the Brock campus is always in flux, changing and evolving along with the students who inhabit it. Even if you’re a first year, this realization will dawn on you soon enough. The Sir Isaac Brock statue, the completion of the new Gateway Suites residency and the Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts building are a few of the major changes which have occurred in the past year alone. Changes can also take place on a more micro scale and can affect our day-to-day undergraduate experience. One such change is the renovation of Brock’s on-campus gym, the Zone.
Even if students have never and will never use the Zone, they are contributing funding through the 2013 Student Life Fee as 38 per cent of the memorandum is put towards “free Zone access including enhanced fitness programming and equipment for all undergraduate students”. Therefore, every student is implicated whenever the layout changes, equipment is purchased or decisions are made regarding the functioning of the gym. With the changes made in early Sept. 2015, the most drastic alterations made to the Zone in years, patrons began asking questions and wondering how these decisions were made.
Eric Walter, Supervisor of the Zone Fitness Centre and Zone staff, said, “It’s always time to change because [fitness] trends are always changing. Adjustments to the Zone are based on observations of equipment usage, wait times and areas of the Zone which are commonly overcrowded.” The main priority for the Zone staff is safety for all patrons. Situating the equipment in such a way that leaves walkways open, fire escapes available and enough room for patrons to safely complete the motions of their exercises is the most poignant concern for Walter.
Despite this, concerns still exist based on the updated layout. Franktonny Camacho, patron of the Zone, said that, “the most frustrating thing about the new layout is that ever since all the machines were moved to the main floor, it seems like everyone is working out in one spot while the second floor feels under utilized. When the cables were upstairs it acted as a bit of a buffer for overcrowding.” Camacho also acknowledges the benefits of the changes: better equipment, safer space for dynamic work-outs, better distribution of machines and free weights, and more open space.
“Initially the changes took some getting used to, as change normally meets some resistance anyway, but as students get used to the new layout, I think that they have begun liking the changes and will continue to enjoy the atmosphere that the changes have helped to create,” said Brandon Wright, Supervisor of the Zone.
The bottom line is that the Zone cannot be everything that we want it to be. The Zone staff are forced to work within a limited space, with limited resources and funding under strict guidelines and policies from the University while still accommodating the diverse needs of over 20,000 students who have a right to utilize this space. With the implementation of the Student Life Fee, the Zone gained incentive, justification, and responsibility to cater to all different fitness types. For example, despite the massive rise in popularity for Olympic and power-lifting, this exercise will likely never be accommodated at the Zone. Aside from being an exercise which requires quite a bit of space, it is also a very intimidating activity.
“This year, the Zone wanted to focus on student inclusion; making the student fitness experience warm and welcoming, whenever someone enters the Zone we hope that they feel safe and willing to ask any of the staff questions if they have any inquiries,” said Wright
If you’re a student who is interested in power-lifting on campus, the Rowing Centre has these accommodations but in order to access the facility, students will have to pay an additional fee.
Walter says that improvements will continue to be made with a focus on “modern up-to-date functional equipment.” Efforts are even being put forth to install gym equipment in the Walker Complex Courtyard to mitigate issues of space. But above all both Walter, and Wright urge patrons to voice their concerns, opinions, and questions to the Zone staff. This is the only way the management of the Zone has access to the vital information they need to inform their next decisions in changing the landscape, layout, and equipment of the Zone. The Zone will never stop changing and whether we, the students, want to be a part of those changes is up to us. We all have the democratic ability to influence and shape the Brock campus and the Zone is no different.
Assistant Internal News Editor