At the beginning of September, the Anteater Recreation Center’s (ARC) Wellness Lab was closed to make way for new equipment — equipment that ended up totaling approximately $100,000.
The new additions, including Hoist and Freemotion weight machines, join a legion of recent expansions that include classrooms, three offices, the Wellness Lab, a baby-sitting station and massage rooms.
Courtney Burkes, Director of Fitness and Wellness, said the purchase was absolutely necessary, as a result of the fact that the ARC would have lost a significant amount of money if they had waited to purchase the new equipment; financially, it made more sense to buy now.
The equipment that the new procurements cycled out were original machines, a part of the gym from its outset. And, like any used car, the old machines had to be resold before they reached ripe maturity in “clunker” status.
“We wouldn’t want to have dilapidated machines in the ARC. It could end up being a safety liability,” said Burkes.
Though the reselling of old machines takes a chunk out of the price tag of the additions, the bill seems out of place next to the UC system’s unprecedented budget cuts.
The ARC itself is undergoing a budget reduction of eight percent, says Janet Konami, Director of Business and Technology at the ARC. Employees at the gym face a 4 to 12 percent reduction in pay because of furloughs.
“The expansion was funded by student fees,” said Konami. “Students 10 years ago voted to tax themselves” in order to fund and create the ARC as a gym for non-athletes.
That self-taxation continues today in the form of seventy dollars paid per student per quarter.
The ARC did put in the additions with the students — the consumers — in mind. “We’re trying to keep up with what the students want,” said Konami.
Students wanted a more relaxed, less intimidating space for weight lifting, said Zackary Kerzich, a first-year undeclared major who works as a student employee at the Wellness Lab.
If you happen to wander into the Wellness Lab, the grunting and colossal free-weights of the original weight lifting room are almost entirely absent.
“Lots of people say they like the new machines,” said Kerzich. “They’re top-notch and more user-friendly.”
As the room now contains weight lifting machines rather than free weights, the equipment is safer for student use.
“The ARC is a place for the students to relax and de-stress,” said Burkes, noting how especially important that de-stressing can be, what with classes cut, jobs short and fees rising. With that in mind, she argues, the ARC can’t afford to be less polished.
But, do the benefits to the students really outweigh the costs?
“Maybe not,” said Kerzich. “The older machines were top of the line as well, and worked just fine.”
The new machines, he said, work much the same as the old ones. In the long run, yes, these machines will last. But considering the present financial realities, the new machines weren’t really necessary.
Many students, of course, are enjoying the ARC and the new equipment. And at the same time many feel like Christian Avetisyan, a second-year criminology major. “Put the money where it counts: in education.”
However you may feel about the ARC’s new purchases in the context of the university’s budget crisis, you can be sure that new additions this year will have to be much smaller in scale.