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Mens, manus and muscles: Z Center to open in fall

Candace Royer
Candace Royer

The Zesiger Sports and Fitness Center will offer MIT students, staff, and faculty new, state-of-the-art opportunities for sports and general vigor when its doors open in September 2002.

Designed by architect Kevin Roche and flanked by the other recently renovated athletics facilities, the Zesiger Center will be "one of the finest sports and fitness complexes in New England, offering a greater variety of sports, courts, pools, fitness equipment and recreational spaces than most private health clubs provide," said Candace Royer, head of the Department of Athletics, Physical Education and Recreation,

"We're very excited about the latest addition to our athletic and recreational facilities and are committed to providing all members of the MIT community with the highest standard of service," added Royer, who is also director of athletics. "Anyone who has used the old facilities will be heartened to see the new spacious and well-lit fitness rooms, swimming pools and squash courts housed in a beautifully designed building right beside the Stratton Student Center."

The fitness rooms comprise 13,000 square feet--four times the size of the weight and cardiovascular fitness room now in the duPont Athletic Center.

The Zesiger Center will have 60 cardiovascular machines in an air-conditioned and carpeted area (compared to the current 5 machines), a free-weight area, two lines of plate-loaded weight machines (Nautilus and Icarian), and full-time health and fitness professionals to give training tips and basic instruction.

Trainers will provide personal fitness programs and fitness testing. The cardiovascular area will have "cardio theater"--TVs and radio that can be heard through headphones--for about 45 of the machines.

The Zesiger Center also will have a pro shop, juice bar and lounge area; six international-size squash courts with pyramid seating in the viewing area; a 50-meter Olympic-size pool with a diving well and a smaller six-lane teaching pool; and a new multi-activity court for indoor soccer, rollerblading, floor hockey, basketball and volleyball.

"There is no health club in the country that can offer the quality and quantity of facilities we offer. And if it did, it would cost several times our rates," said Dan Martin, assistant department head for facilities and operations. "The faculty/staff membership fee is half the going rate of most greater Boston health and fitness facilities. And we have so many more facilities, I don't even know how to quantify it. The magnitude is incredible."


Memberships for faculty and staff will cost $375 per year. Payroll deduction may be used.

Many MIT medical plans now offer fitness incentives, and some even offer partial reimbursement of membership fees to health clubs. For instance, faculty and staff members who are enrolled with the MIT Health Plans can receive a $150 reimbursement from Blue Cross/Blue Shield when joining the MIT athletics facility, dropping the cost of membership to $225.

Membership will include access to all the new facilities, as well as the renovated six-lane Alumni Pool, the eight-lane newly resurfaced outdoor track, a six-lane indoor track, basketball courts with new floors in Rockwell Cage, newly-sodded outdoor playing fields and an AstroTurf field, the outdoor tennis courts, ice skating in Johnson Athletics Center, and the sailing pavilion.

The membership fee also allows enrollment in most physical education classes--such as aerobics, weight training, water aerobics and sports training--at no extra cost. The Zesiger Center will be open from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m.

Students may use the facility for no additional fee.

As in the past, faculty and staff will need a membership before taking physical education courses. The Johnson Athletic Center, duPont Athletic Center, Rockwell Cage and the Zesiger Sports and Fitness Center will be linked via the newly renovated lobby in duPont. Access to the duPont lobby will be from Vassar Street or behind the Student Center.

Memberships may be purchased at the duPont equipment window Monday to Friday from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Faculty and staff must bring a current MIT ID card and select from the following payment methods: check, credit card or payroll deduction (12 monthly installments of $31.25 or 52 weekly deductions of about $7.20). Students will need to bring their MIT ID to duPont for validation.

Annual membership fees are:

Faculty and staff--$375

MIT students--Activation of student I.D.


Family memberships for faculty and staff--$540

Family memberships for students--$200

Family memberships for alumni--$700

Locker rentals--$20 for students and $50 for others

Weekly, monthly and summer memberships also will be offered. Guests may buy a day pass for $3 (accompanying a student) or $5 (accompanying faculty, staff or alumni).

"For people who are on the fence, we'll provide a free one-day pass so they can try out the facilities," said Martin.

For more information, see the department's web site.

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