Navigating the Gym at Bates


Sarah McCarthy

Walk in to the Bert Andrews Room (BAR) in Merrill Gym at 4 p.m. on a weekday, and you are bound to become annoyed. People jocking for treadmills, looking over your shoulder as they are on the elliptical eagerly awaiting you to finish your workout; or worse, not being able to use the machine you wanted because they are all taken. Nevermind the inability to get a cubby to put down your backpack. Being a varsity athlete, I have had the opportunity to compete at and view the athletic facilities offered at other NESCAC schools. With the exception of a small school to the North, every other school has newly renovated multi-floor fieldhouses that cater to the athletic and fitness desires of the entire student body. While I may be hyperbolizing the status of Bates’ fitness facilities, I have frequently heard comments from friends, teammates, and general students about how crowded both Davis and Merrill fitness centers can get during peak hours.

Since the flow of students at particular times is not something that can be controlled, it is hard to argue that this is an issue without sounding like a brat. And steps are being made to improve current facilities and implement more diverse classes into the offerings for physical education classes and the BWell program. Just this fall, ten brand-new treadmills were added to the BAR and are not only better-functioning, but also allow for more people to use the treadmills at one time, due to the restructuring of the layout of other cardio machines. Also recently, more spin bikes have been added to the Gray Cage, allowing for greater participation in the BWell spin classes. But even still, if you choose to show up to the gym at 4 p.m. on a Tuesday, you run the risk of riding a stationary bike even though you are a month into training for a half marathon. Davis Fitness Center can be equally as bad, if not worse, with many groups of varsity athletes getting in pre-practice lifts and a limited number of platforms for Olympic lifting.

While this issue does not have a quick fix and is definitely on the radar of the administration and the athletic department, I propose a few things to make everyone’s experience more enjoyable. First is etiquette: while it may seem as though you need to jump onto a machine as soon as someone else gets off, even if their sweat is still all over it, take a breath and let them finish their workout peacefully, so you can do the same. Next, be aware and respectful of everyone else in the gym, use headphones, don’t talk on the phone for the entire duration of your workout, and be swift in cleaning and exiting the machine once you have finished exercising. In Davis, let people work in. And if you are resting or going to use a cable machine for a set, let someone else borrow your platform for a quick set and rotate on and off. Finally, in both locations, carry the shoes you are going to work out in. Sand and salt not only damage the treadmills and the platforms, but also make a mess and are generally annoying to have to deal with when you just want to exercise.

Although the athletic and fitness facilities at Bates need a lot of love, all of us Batesies can do our small parts to make these facilities enjoyable for the time being.