Construction begins to create more accessible Fitness Center space



An architectural rendering depicts what the interior of new Madison College Fitness Center will look like once completed..

Chris Bird, Managing Editor

While many students have been away from campus, Madison College has been working on a large project to remodel the Fitness Center and locker rooms at Truax campus. It is an expansion large enough to incorporate the area that was once dedicated to the recently closed pool at Truax.

The project been in the planning phase for over a year now, but construction has begun in earnest with the new semester. Fred Brechlin, the ‎Director of Planning & Construction Management at Madison College, laid out some of the features that the new facilities will bring.

“The existing pool locker rooms are being rebuilt to meet current standards, the athletics team rooms and associated locker rooms are being rebuilt and reconfigured to meet current standards and increase the number of team rooms from 2 to 4, there will be a new officials room, new training room, reconfigured athletic offices and new pe classroom are on the second floor, the new roof will be flat and include solar panels, the exterior wall will be rebuilt with new limestone, grey metal, and more glass to match current design standards at the Gateway and Atrium Café,” Brechlin shared.

Madison College has been working with the athletics department to plan out this new space, and even provided renders of what the finished area is planned to look like. Stephen Hauser, Director of Athletics, was excited to be able to add and update the facilities to meet the needs of the Madison College community.

The old Fitness Center was able to provide equipment and a space for people and classes to exercise, but that space was limited and accessing the center wasn’t all that straightforward. Users of the old center may remember one entrance being located in between the first and second floor, in a somewhat secluded corner of Truax Campus.

“You had to really try to find it, you had to know where you were going otherwise you would get lost, so you had to know you had to go through the fitness center and go down another hall,” said Hauser. One of the main goals of the new Fitness Center is to make it more accessible, more visible, and have easy entry.

Brechlin stated that the new area will have two levels, with the second being raised to match the height of the second level of the Truax Campus, and there will be much clearer entrances that will be easier to get to.

Hauser identified the old locker rooms as somewhat of a barrier to entry for many who might be interested in using the facilities. Having to share locker rooms with sports teams, students, members of the community, and staff meant that finding space could be hard.

“The new locker rooms have been expanded for students on teams to be able to have more full lockers, and any teams will have their own personal space while preparing for sports games or practices,” said Hauser. Athletics will also have more rooms for teams, as well as rooms for officials and staff, and improved spaces with greater privacy for athletic training, rehab and prehab.

“There will also be non-gender specific locker rooms, we were not able to accommodate people with those needs before this,” said Hauser, also adding that there will be areas for families as well, to accommodate those with children.

The new E-sports team will be gaining more dedicated space in the new area too. “E-sports’ area is going to be set up so that they can have a space where they can practice, because they have to practice too,” said Hauser.

Physical education classes at Madison College have made use of the old fitness center for a long time, but there wasn’t much space for activities like writing and bringing in a whole class of people to the fitness center at busy hours could leave little space for people to share. “There are about 30 classes that use the gym and fitness center for those classes, we are excited to have an area where students in academic classes can have space, and others can be there at the same time,” said Hauser. In the new center there will be a classroom for physical education, with tools these classes need to do work, watch films, and more.

Brechlin shared that “from a construction standpoint, we’re in a demolition phase, we’ve lost a couple days do to this cold snap,” but he believes that they are still on track to have the construction done by December of this year. There isn’t much of the old facility left at this point, and the workers will be framing the new structures and pouring concrete in about a months time.