Memorial Stadium Fitness Center unfit to open, renovations delayed until May

Rec Sports/UC Berkeley/Courtesy

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Plans to renovate the Memorial Stadium Fitness Center are underway and the facility is expected to open its doors May 1 despite previously scheduling to reopen in late February, sending many of the gym’s users to the Recreational Sports Facility instead.

The center originally closed after it was found that previous tile flooring failed to meet health and safety standards because of a defective adhesive. Although the renovation was slated for completion by Feb. 20, the deadline was extended because the center could not confirm a flooring vendor until recently and is still waiting for the new tiles to be manufactured.

After evaluating various options, Rec Sports selected Mondo Flooring to oversee the project. They will install high-impact flooring — the same flooring found at the Simpson Center for Student Athlete Performance — which will “provide users with an improved fitness experience while meeting the health and safety standards,” according to a statement released by Rec Sports on Thursday.

Rec Sports must also comply with Capital Projects, which oversees all campus projects, to ensure that its plans meet guidelines for student safety. Although Rec Sports is prepared to lay down the new flooring, the tiles are not yet ready to be installed.

Meanwhile, the RSF has experienced an upsurge in usage since the beginning of the semester. Senior Associate Director of Rec Sports Joe Watz said that the renovation of the Memorial Stadium Fitness Center is only a single factor contributing to the influx of students using the RSF. Watz cited the increase in student enrollment and the start of the new year as other plausible explanations for higher usage.

Juana Galvan, a center supervisor for the RSF, said the amount of people using the RSF since the closure of the Memorial Stadium gym has tripled. She recalled observing approximately 50 people waiting to use the weight room in January.

Some students at the RSF said they had to wait up to 20 minutes within the past few weeks to use equipment.

I had to wait around 15 to 20 minutes … for 20 people in front of me,” said second-year student Pooja Thakrar. “The weight room demand is greater than (the) supply. … It’s an inconvenience for me.”

According to first-year student Megan Wu, there were also lines to use cardio equipment and the stretching room.

“I wanted to go on the treadmill and I ended up waiting 10 to 15 minutes,” Wu said.

In order to accommodate the higher volume of users at the RSF, Rec Sports “worked with the campus to expand the capacity in activity areas,” according to Watz. Fitness classes held at the RSF have also been rescheduled to times outside of peak hours to free up additional space, while student staff members have been delegated to monitor the long lines.

Watz emphasized the efforts of student staff at the RSF in working to address the long lines and wait timesstaff members even write a riddle of the day on a white board to entertain those who may have to wait for equipment.

“Student operational staff has been professional and accommodating,” Watz said.

While the closure of the Memorial Stadium gym has been an inconvenience to some, Watz said that Rec Sports is working to meet student and faculty needs.

“We serve over 30,000 students and over 2,000 faculty and community members. … Optimally, (the renovation) should have been done over break,” Watz said. “But student staff and athletes have been phenomenal — there has been frustrations, but they understand.”

Contact Michelle Perales at [email protected].