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New year, new alternative to the Bell Center

Photo: Carter Oswood

The new semester marks a new beginning for students looking to get fit. Last Tuesday marked the grand opening of a new fitness center located in Lower Olmsted.

Underground Fitness is equipped with several elliptical machines, treadmills, bikes, weight machines and free weights. Though it is the same equipment as in the Bell Center, the machines are new, and each cardio machine comes with an individual television. There is also a space for stretching, and there are new meeting rooms that can be reserved through Mark Chambers, director of facility services.

Sophomore Joshua Abbott works out once or twice a day, and he said that he enjoys the new facility, especially being able to choose a TV program to watch while he exercises.

“It’s close to pretty much everything so you don’t have to take time out of your schedule,” he said. “If I’m pushed for time, I have more access to working out.”

Abbott also said that because it is located closer to the residence halls, walking to a late-night workout can be much safer.

Sophomore Molly Krook also said she liked the location.

“It’s very convenient, especially when it’s freezing outside, because it’s closer to the residence halls,” she said

Lisa Murphy, assistant director of recreational services, was heavily involved in the project and hopes that the additional center will create more opportunities for students to have healthier lifestyles.

Machines in the Bell Center are often being used with people waiting, Murphy said. She wants to create a healthier environment on campus and said that an overcrowded workout space did not support that.

“We don’t want to deter people from working out,” she said. “We want to encourage wellness, and student frustration doesn’t accomplish that.”

She noted that since Underground Fitness opened, the Bell Center has been less busy, and Underground Fitness is getting plenty of use. It had 288 students come on its opening day, and there were over 400 students who used the facility on the second day.

“On days like this when it’s only two degrees out, it’s a much shorter walk over,” Murphy said. “It has also taken pressure off (the Bell Center), which was always packed.”

Murphy and other staff members looked at over 60 different name suggestions, but it was junior Caylin Healey who coined the title. Murphy said they chose Underground Fitness because it was simple and unique.

Healey said the space seemed like a dugout, but she didn’t like the sound of the name and eventually thought of Underground Fitness.

“I love how Drake has allowed a lot of input when it has come to all of the new renovations happening lately,” Healey said. “Allowing the students to name Quad Creek Cafe, BlueSky and now Underground Fitness shows me how interested Drake University is in creating a Drake family.”

Murphy said that student feedback has been primarily positive, and she said she thinks students were surprised by the quality of the facility.

“It exceeded my expectations,” Abbott said. “I didn’t think they were going to have that many machines.”

Murphy said she hopes that students will continue to use the facility to create a healthier campus while utilizing a space that had previously been unused.

Underground Fitness is for Drake students only and is open during Olmsted hours.

Olmsted Hours:

Monday – Friday 6:30 a.m. – 11:30 p.m.

Saturday: 11 a.m. – 11:30 p.m.

Sunday: 8 a.m. – 11:30 p.m.

1 Comment

  1. student January 23, 2012

    I miss that there were 3 locations for food and Lower Olmsted being one of them.

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