Cary Street Gym unveils renovations, new equipment

Ten multifunctional racks have been added to the Cary Street Gym, which can transition from bench presses to inclines and support Olympic-style lifting. Photo by Becca Schwartz

The Cary Street Gym underwent major renovations this August as part of a campaign by VCU Recreational Sports staff to provide a more functional and safe facility for students.

On average, the gym receives almost 4,000 visitors a day, with more than 24,000 unique users each year, said Derek Hottell, Director of Recreational Sports at VCU. Over the course of a year, the gym aggregates more than a million visits.

Roughly $100,000 went into the renovation, but was funded from within the gym’s operating budget. There is no relationship to the tuition hike this year, Hottell said.

“The renovation was very intentional,” said Assistant Director for Fitness and Wellness Carrie Baines. “We did a lot of research.”

Baines said in addition to making the gym more Americans with Disabilities Act compliant by increasing wheelchair accessability to sections of gym, more ADA-friendly machines such as arm-crank cycles, have been added, too.

Baines said when deciding what to purchase, the gym staff relied on surveys, usage counts on machines, tours of other college’s facilities and feedback from students.

“It’s about adapting to the needs of the university,” Hottell said.

Ten more multifunctional racks have been added at the Cary Street gym and six at the MCV fitness center that maximize the use of space. The racks can fold out into bench presses, configure into inclines and also support Olympic-style lifting, Hottell said.

Two more free-style weight stations have been added, and are sectioned by weight. Hottell said this means that someone lifting 5 lb. weights won’t have to work out next to someone doing 60 lb. curls and feel intimidated.

“All of this came from intentional choices about how we’d prioritize funding,” Hotell said.

The renovation is an effort to get the gym on a seven year rotation for most equipment, which means that a small amount of equipment will be replaced each year and simultaneously save on costs.

Hottell said this also ensures that while students are here for their four to five years, they’ll always see new machines and amnenities.

In addition to new equipment, the health and wellness studio previously used as a stretching room will be opened to group exercise classes. Smaller, more intensive, classes will begin this year that last between four and 10 weeks, but those will require an additional fee, Baines said. 

“A lot of this new equipment didn’t exist or wasn’t popular six years ago when the gym opened,” Baines said. “Our new equipment reflects the latest fitness trends.”

Battle ropes, synergies, more racks and dumbbell areas, ADA-accessible equipment, cable and crossover pulley machines, smith machines, a heavy bag, and areas with more jump ropes and boxes are a sampling of what has been added to the gym’s repertoire.

“It’s like any other building on campus,” said Connie Kottmann assistant director for marketing and member services. “It’s not just one and done. You have to respond to the people’s needs.”

Jesse Adcock. Photo by Julie TrippSpectrum Editor, Jesse Adcock
Jesse is a junior print journalism major and Arabic and Middle Eastern culture minor. He has walked in the valley with no water and bitten the heads off of snakes. //

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