Missouri S&T’s own fitness center is set to undergo a major transformation in the upcoming future. The fitness center building itself was originally constructed with the intent for it to be a shooting range; however, the space was never used as such and was converted into what we know as the fitness center today. Since it was transformed in 2006, the fitness center has not seen any physical or structural changes. There has been general maintenance and some of the equipment has been circulated and upgraded. In the last several years, there has been a shift towards a weightlifting emphasis, which has been apparent and reflected in the equipment changes that have been made.
In the spring semester of 2016, Student Council sent out an interest survey to students to inquire about what part of campus the student body felt needed the most attention for improvement and/or renovation. The clear and obvious answer by a wide margin in survey responses was the improving the fitness center. Subsequently, in October of 2016, members of Student Council sat down with Dr. Murphy and initiated the conversation about expansion given its obvious need; and thus the project was underway.
In these meetings, it was established that the student recreation fee of $43.35, which was already being charged to each student per semester, would be the source for financing the project along with private donations. This fee was previously being used to pay off the internal loan that was incurred in the 2006 creation of the fitness center; however, this debt had been paid off and now will go towards the four-million dollar expansion. Consequently, there will be no increase in student fees relating to recreation. Having defined the sources of financing, a campus master plan for the expansion was then able to be devised along with a preliminary design and a proposed budget of four million dollars, which in turn was presented to the Board of Curators for their approval. Given that the Board approved the proposal, architects were then able to be hired to start drafting designs. As of last week, the design has been finalized. All that is left is selecting a contractor based off of the contractor bids and for construction to set forth.
The not completely new, but definitely improved fitness center will expand into the grassy area to the left of the current building and will not encroach on the parking lot. Currently, the facility is about 6,000 square feet and the expansion itself is 9,000 square feet, so it will be more than doubling in size. To enter, students and membership holders will gain access through a turnstile entrance, such as what is found in metropolitan subway systems. This new system will require each individual to have their own ID. There will be a multipurpose room on the second floor of the expansion that will hold 25 to 30 people. This multipurpose room often houses various fitness classes with limited space, but with this expansion, fitness classes will not be as limited. There will also be an option to reserve this room for any organization that needs it, such as Ballet or Karate Club. All in all, the newfound space will allow it will be less tightly packed than it currently is, while also utilizing this new space to add new machines and additional squat racks.
Construction is set to begin after Rolla High School has their commencement ceremony in Gale Bullman in late May. There will be significant progress to the fitness center expansion over the summer while the majority of it users (students) are away. Given that there will be a lot construction, some might be concerned about not having access to fitness accommodations for this period of time. Fear not, it has been noted that only during periods of closure, students will not have access. After the contractor is chosen, which should be in the next three to four weeks, plans will be created to determine when the fitness center will be closed for construction and where students and membership holders will be able to workout at during these periods of time. With that being said, the expansion of the fitness center is set to be completed in April of 2019 and time will fly by fast!