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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

Overcrowding at O’Pake

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O’Pake Recreation Center sits on the Merion side of campus (Photo by Matt Barrett ’21).

Students struggle to find workout space 

Overcrowding at the O’Pake Recreation Center has left many students struggling to find space to work out in the university’s main workout facility.

While cardio machines are available to the campus community in Hagan Arena, only athletes are allowed to use the weights there. Non-student athletes who lift must do so in O’Pake.

The workout space in O’Pake is 3,100 square feet and includes both free weights and cardio machines. In addition to students, full-time employees at St. Joe’s along with their families can use the workout facilities at O’Pake free of charge.

Part-time students, alumni and “friends of SJU” can purchase memberships to the gym at prices ranging from $100 a year for part-time students to $1,200 a year for a “Friend of SJU” family membership.

As a result of the overcrowding, many students must rearrange their workout schedules or do not go to the gym as often as they would like.

Abby Alexis ’19 heads to O’Pake three times a week in the morning to avoid the crowds.

“The building could use extra equipment,” Alexis said. “It’s too small for the number of students on campus.”

Like Alexis, Justin Pacullio ’20 is a regular at the workout space. He goes Monday through Saturday at around 2 p.m., and said he is frustrated by the overcrowding.

“There are so many people in there, you can’t exactly do what you want,” Pacullio said.

Compared to the other universities in the area, St. Joe’s workout space for non-athletes does not measure up.

“We are losing an armed race of fitness to the local colleges,” said Corey Shannon, director of Campus Recreation at St. Joe’s.

Lisa Harris, associate athletics director for intramurals and recreation at Villanova University, said the main fitness center at Villanova is around 9,000 square feet. In all, Villanova has about 17,000 square feet of fitness space on campus, she said.

One of the ways St. Joe’s is trying to relieve overcrowding at O’Pake is by adding fitness classes.

Ann Maria Catonia, a Hawk Fit coordinator in O’Pake, said St. Joe’s has tried to fix part of the problem by adding more fitness classes daily. The classes are $7 per class, or $5 per visit with a 10-class card pass.

Shannon said he has proposed multiple plans to the university about improving the O’Pake workout space.

“Currently, I am optimistic about change,” Shannon said, although he did not specify whether or not the university has agreed to adopt any of those plans.

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