Working Out the Kinks
By Sergio Candido
With more than 50 exercise machines, seven television sets and a powerful stereo system, the Health & Wellness Center at the North Campus is as good as any expensive health club.
But due to drastic cuts in hours of operation, students say they are getting partial workouts and many headaches. Gym hours have been cut by 35 hours per week since the summer.
The gym is open: Monday’s, Wednesday’s and Friday’s from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. and Tuesdays and Thursdays from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday hours have been cut all together. Students with an MDC identification card can use the gym for free.
“Our two full-timers are no longer on staff and therefore in order to compensate that loss of hours we reduced the hours of the gym,” said Heather J. Belmont, chairperson of the Biology/Health & Wellness Department.
“The decision was made collectively, through consultation with the deans, our president, as well as our faculty,” Belmont added.
According to Belmont, the college is currently experiencing a “hiring freeze” and a schedule reduction was the best way to “maintain the wellness and safety of our students in the absence of full-time personnel.”
Some students have started a petition to attempt to get more hours added to the wellness center schedule. More than 100 signatures have been gathered.
Despite the schedule cuts, the amount of students using the Wellness Center has not decreased.
“It gets ridiculous in here; it’s packed,” said Andrew Bowen, a Wellness Center associate, who has been working at the gym for two and a half years.
Within minutes of opening, the gym reaches its maximum capacity of 56 occupants, Bowen said.
“It gets to a point where I just have to stop everything,” Bowen said.
“If there’s more than 56 people in here I have to close that door.”
Bowen also believes that having too many people in the same place is unsafe.
“I have seen people in here hitting their toes with dumbbells on the floor, people trying to do curls and hitting other people, it’s dangerous.”
The situation has also created some tense moments.
“I’ve seen people get upset because they are waiting, I’ve seen a couple of confrontations over there in the corner where I have to go and break them up,” Bowen said.
Another risk is the prolonged period of time between reps because of the amount of people trying to use the machines at one time. The Navy and Marine Corps Public Health Center webpage affirms that “cold joints, tendons and muscles are more likely to get strained or sprained by sudden movement or exertion.”
“With the old schedule everybody had a chance to come to the gym,” said Emmanuel Louis, 22, computer technology major.
And students are not the only ones suffering due to the shorter gym hours.
“I saw a professor here yesterday that I haven’t seen since the semester started,” Bowen said. “He said he just got a chance to come, and that’s somebody who used to come here everyday.”
Because of the shorter hours, students will not be able to take advantage of the fitness classes previously taught in Room 3125.
“We used to give abs classes, cardio classes, toning classes, and all of these were free to students,” Bowen said.
A possible solution to the problem could be to have students pay a fee like they do at the Wolfson Campus Wellness Center. Students there, who are interested in using the facilities, have to pay a $79 fee per semester.
Some students would object to such measures.
“Remember that this is a community college, most students have to work; they can’t afford to pay a fee,” said Daniel Janvier, 25.
Without the gym, some students said they would be missing a big part of their college life.
Alexander Lopez, 20, nursing major, spends an average of 20 hours a week in the gym. He dedicates about two to three hours daily to helping others with their workout.
“I want to motivate other people to come to the gym,” Lopez said.
“It keeps me off the streets and out of trouble, here is a safe place.”