With an influx of funds from alumnus Paul Rudovsky (SB '66), MIT's weight room has been refurbished, and it reopened last month as a new Health Center.
What was known, affectionately or not, as "The Dungeon" is looking more like a palace. Outdated weights and exercise equipment have been replaced with new and reconditioned pieces of equipment. The walls have been freshly painted and carpeting has been added to give the fitness room a fresher feeling.
The opening of the revamped center is the first in a series of upgrades which will culminate in a new 12,000-square-foot Athletic Center scheduled to open by the fall of 2000. Groundbreaking is projected for July 1, 1998. A reception marking the Health Center opening was held on Friday, September 26.
"The Health Center gives people a positive feeling, and it's a better atmosphere for them to go and reduce stress,'' said Dan Martin, facilities and operations manager. "They know they're using top equipment.''
"It's a tremendous improvement," said Cheryl Silva, the women's lacrosse and field hockey coach who also teaches physical education. "The atmosphere is 100 percent better."
Space, or lack thereof, is the one drawback. "Most universities at the Division III level have approximately 10,000-square-foot athletic centers. Ours is 3,000 square feet," said Halston Taylor, the men's cross-country and track and field coach who headed the refurbishment project. As a result, students have often had to wait in line to use the apparatus at certain times of the day.
Mr. Taylor's intent is to have the new Health Center eventually used only by the varsity athletics and physical education programs, while the future 12,000-square-foot facility will serve as a general recreational facility for the MIT population. Although the varsity teams have blocks of training time allotted to them, the current facility is open to the entire MIT community.
A planning committee conducted a survey and considered student input as they decided what to include and how to proceed with the project, Mr. Martin said. The Health Center features Icarian fitness equipment as well as cardiovascular equipment, stair climbers, treadmills with heart meters, lifecycles and a full assortment of reconditioned free weights.
The old equipment will be used in an auxiliary fitness room when the main Health Center is occupied by a varsity team.
A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on October 8, 1997.