President Daniel Ball, right, officiates at the dedication of Lander University's new fitness center, which boasts the latest in exercise equipment for use by students, faculty and staff.
Lander University has converted a little-used indoor swimming pool into an ultramodern fitness center that should see a lot of traffic. A ribbon-cutting ceremony was held on Friday, Jan. 4, to formally introduce the center, which became available for use with the start of the spring semester. The new facility is located in the Joe V. Chandler Center, home of the university's Department of Physical Education and Exercise Studies (PEES).
President Daniel Ball told the crowd assembled for the grand opening, "This is a big day for Lander and the people who made this new facility happen." He said it took a collaborative effort by many members of the faculty and staff across the university.
At 6,800 square feet, the new facility is more than three times the size of the university's old fitness center just up the hall.
Campus engineer Dorenda Sprowl, who supervised the $650,000 construction project, said the mechanical equipment for operating the Olympic-sized pool was not operating efficiently and needed to be replaced. She added that the pool area itself was due for a facelift and the cost of renovations, replacing the mechanical equipment, purchasing pool chemicals and regular maintenance, would have been almost as expensive as creating the new exercise facility.
The Boudreaux Group of Columbia drew the architectural plans and the contractor was James B. Jones Construction Co., of Abbeville. Electricians in Lander's engineering department did the wiring, and technicians in Information Technology Services installed nine television screens and sound equipment. Sprowl said, "It was a great team effort."
The first step was to drain the pool of the more than 650,000 gallons of water that an Olympic-sized pool typically holds. Next came filling the empty space with 57 truckloads of gravel weighing more than a thousand tons and topping it off with a 6-inch layer of concrete. Sprowl said the project, which also included converting two of four racquetball courts into dance studios and offices, took about a year from design to completion.
Daniel Hannah, assistant professor of athletic training and director of Lander's athletic training program, was given the job of narrowing the search for the center's state-of-the-art exercise equipment. In addition to his teaching responsibilities, Hannah spent several months working with manufacturers before recommending the types of equipment and how many of each piece would be suitable for the facility.
He also drew the center's floor plan, laying out the placement of equipment and arranging the room in dedicated zones. The cardio exercise zone has 24 machines. There are approximately 60 stations for strength training, a free weights area and a core body exercise zone. There is also a spin room with 13 spin bikes, and an adjoining classroom.
Hannah said his part in the project was time consuming, but added, "It was a fun process." He sees the center as "a huge recruiting tool" for the university and said it also ties in well with Lander's emphasis on wellness.
According to Vice President for Student Affairs Randy Bouknight, the fitness center will be open for students every day, 90 hours a week, under the supervision of Lander's Recreation and Intramural Department. "Campus Recreation, Health Services, Student Activities and Housing are collaborating on programs and activities in the fitness center to encourage healthy lifestyles among students." Faculty and staff can also use the facility.
At the grand opening, Hannah and Gina Barton, PEES chair and professor of physical education and exercise studies, were given awards recognizing them for "services above and beyond" for their roles in making the idea of the new fitness center a reality.
Barton said the center offers many academic, research and service opportunities, including a greater number of general education activity classes. She added, "Students who are majoring in athletic training, exercise science and physical education will experience real-world training in a variety of their upper-level professional classes while working with a wide range of equipment that caters to a range of clients."
Another benefit is that Lander faculty and staff, who can also use the center, can work with training experts in the PEES department to develop personal fitness programs.
Leland Nielsen, director of Lander's exercise science program, said "The new fitness center and its variety of equipment allows us to better prepare our students for national certification for fitness professionals offered by various organizations."
While Lander's indoor pool is just a memory, the university will continue to operate its outdoor swimming pool adjacent to the Sproles Recreation Center. That pool is open to students, faculty, staff and some outside swim camps, and is more heavily used than was the indoor facility.