Unionites asked for a better wellness facility

Our students need more.

When we polled the Union College Student Senate to find out what they were looking for in a recreation facility, here are the top five (order of votes):

  • Walking track
  • Strength-training gym
  • Cardio gym
  • Basketball/volleyball court
  • Refreshment area

When Union’s facility master plan was recently updated, the consultants asked students and employees what Union needs most. With a unified voice, the campus family said a revamped and expanded wellness facility will make the biggest difference for Union College.

Built in 1981, Larson Lifestyle Center is no longer able to handle the needs of our thriving campus. Here’s why:

Workout facilities—The weight and cardio space in Larson is crowded, and students feel constricted working out in tight spaces. They are not only looking for more equipment to exercise together, but more personal space to feel comfortable. The area is not suitable for a student body of more than 800, our employees and more than 600 community members.

Locker rooms—The open showers in both locker rooms provide no privacy. New shower stalls are needed to help students and guests alike feel comfortable using the facilities.

Additional gymnasium—The Thunderdome has housed court-based athletics and gymnastics at Union for nearly 80 years. Right now, athletic teams and classes use the gym for eleven hours on an average day, leaving little time for open recreation. The Thunderdome also does not have adequate locker room facilities for home and visiting varsity teams.

A place to run—Students are looking for a safe and comfortable place to run and walk after dark and during the winter months. 

An aging building—After 35 years, Larson Lifestyle Center needs $2.5 million in upgrades and repairs just to keep operating at the status quo (see the next page).

Access to the nursing program—Housed in the upper level of Larson Lifestyle Center, Union’s nursing program doesn’t have wheelchair access.

“Many people think that is just about looking better, but it’s actually making you a better person from inside out. We live in a busy world and pay attention to so many things but forget to pay attention to the most important thing—ourselves! Exercise is the way I give myself time to improve and think things through. Exercise every morning gives me a sense of accomplishment the motivation to start the day.”

Boss Sirisatit
a 2020 graduate from Bangkok, Thailand
photo Boss

Fitness is important to students

Many Union students take physical fitness very seriously, but the limited facilities at Larson Lifestyle Center make it difficult for them to pursue their interests and spend time together.

“I like to exercise five to six times per week,” said nursing major Matt Zacharias. “It’s a much better way to unwind than watching Netflix or something.” 

He found that Union facilities didn’t meet his needs, so he bought a membership at a gym down the street. “Larson Lifestyle Center has only one set of cable machines, no squat rack, and often incomplete dumbbell sets that only go up to 100 lbs. It gets very crowded because the cable machines are popular as are the handful of treadmills, bikes and elliptical machines. I chose to go off campus so I could access the equipment I need without having to waste valuable time waiting in line.”

Armando Jimenez, a business sport management major, is passionate about basketball. He played with the Warriors varsity team and likes to mix up his daily exercise routine by shooting some hoops. “The gym is so busy, we can only play after 10:00 p.m.,” he explained. “Staying up that late to play basketball is never beneficial unless you’re trying to go pro. But some of us do it anyway because we love to play.” 

Armando says only a few are willing to lose sleep to play basketball. “It would be great to have a place to play—or even just shoot around—during the day or earlier in the evenings. More of my friends would come play, too.”