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The Hawk News

The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

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Workout woes and wins: Gym users test alternatives

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Michael Tansey ’25 using a lat pull-down at the Sourin Fitness Center. PHOTO: KELLY SHANNON ’24/THE HAWK

With O’Pake Recreation Center closed for renovations through the summer of 2024, Hawk Hill gym users have been trying out alternatives on and off campus, some with better success than others.

Sourin Residence Hall, which used to house a small gym for residents, now has an expanded fitness center that is open to the entire university community. It includes equipment moved over from O’Pake.

Kelly Welsh ’05, executive director of communications, said the Sourin Fitness Center should be able to accommodate those who used to work out in O’Pake.

“Ninety-nine percent of the exercises that could be done on the equipment in O’Pake can be done on the equipment available in the Sourin Fitness Center,” Welsh wrote in response to written questions from The Hawk. “The Smith machine, pulley stations and various free weight options are particularly versatile.”

Hope Grealish ’25 has used the fitness center in Sourin and said the small size of the space negatively impacts her workout experience.

“I think they tried to do their best job with it, but because they wanted to bring the equipment that was used most [into Sourin], that means that it’s all cramped on top of each other because they don’t have room,” Grealish said. “I like having a little bit of space and elbow room while working out, and I think that’s lacking big time in here.”

Katrina Erwin ’25, who used the Sourin Fitness Center occasionally, said she also finds it difficult to work out in the space.

“It’s very cramped, and there’s not a lot of machines or weights to use,” Erwin said. “So it feels like either you’re constantly waiting for something or you just don’t have a ton of access to things like you did at O’Pake.”

The university contracted with LA Fitness and AFC Fitness for discounted membership rates for all students, faculty and staff. Students can purchase a membership from LA Fitness for $29.99 per month and can purchase an AFC Fitness membership for $36 a month. Both gyms are located in Bala Cynwyd within two miles of the Hawk Hill campus.

Katie Swanson ’25 uses one of the machines in Sourin Fitness Center. PHOTO: KELLY SHANNON ’24/THE HAWK

Shehryar Siddiqui, general manager of LA Fitness, said they offer open houses for St. Joe’s students to try out the gym before purchasing a membership. Siddiqui said he has noticed upwards of 10 membership purchases from St. Joe’s students per day ever since the spring semester began.

“This is a busy club, with or without SJU,” Siddiqui said. “But the way we see it is, the more, the merrier. Because, regardless of what your background is, everybody’s here to improve themselves. So we’re happy when there’s more people doing that.”

Andrew Pasquarelli ’24 made the switch to LA Fitness after realizing the new gym in Sourin wasn’t big enough for him. He said the transition has increased his productivity in several ways, one being that there is no basketball court to distract him from lifting weights as there was in O’Pake.

“I do work out quicker now that I’m at LA [Fitness],” Pasquarelli said. “At the time that I go, I’m able to be in and out and get everything done way quicker than I would be able to at O’Pake, so that gives me more time to do other things during the day.”

Ben Levitt, general manager of AFC Fitness, said that 30 to 40 St. Joe’s students have already signed up for memberships, and approximately 20 others are currently using guest passes to get a feel for the gym. Levitt said the students have improved the atmosphere of the club.

“It’s definitely a different vibe in the club with the SJU students here,” Levitt said. “A lot of energy, [a] younger crowd. It’s really adding to our classes and the fitness floor, which is great.”

Teddy Bacon ’23 said that the switch from O’Pake to AFC Fitness has created a more convenient routine for him due to its location in relation to his off-campus house.

“It’s made it a million times better if I’m being honest,” Bacon said. “I work part time, so I was always taking more time on campus if I had to work out at school. Versus now, it’s just a three to four minute drive from my house to AFC.”

But the off-campus gym doesn’t appeal to everyone. David Shepherd ’23 said the alternative facilities are too far from campus to travel to, and as a senior, he does not see the point in joining a discounted gym when there are only a few months left in his undergraduate career.

“I don’t really want to pay for a gym membership for three months,” Shepherd said.

The university has also suggested Hawk Hill members take a university shuttle to the University City campus, which has the Athletic Recreation Center, a state-of-the-art recreation facility previously renovated by the University of the Sciences.

But that trip doesn’t appeal to many Hawk Hill students who would have to factor in shuttle travel time.

“It’s a half-hour shuttle ride there and then usually I work out for an hour when I do go to the gym,” Erwin said. “And it’s another half an hour back, so it’s like two hours out of my day, and I just don’t have that.”

Welsh said campus recreation staff are available to help any students who need assistance in Sourin to make the transition as smooth as possible.

“Our campus recreation staff would be happy to give an orientation of the space and help talk through the best way to accomplish your workout goals,” Welsh said.

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