Sep 162010
 
Authors: David Martinez

The students have spoken. And they want their dumbbells.

Since the beginning of the school year, the CSU Recreation Center has heard a barrage of complaints concerning the layout of the workout equipment.

But the most shocking, and outwardly vocal, sign of discontent has come from the removal of one of the Rec Center’s least-used pieces of equipment: the dumbbells weighing more than 85 pounds.

The concern first arose when the Rec Center staff removed the weights two weeks ago when regular users of the weights noticed their absence.

However, the issue escalated after the Collegian ran an editorial on the Rec Center’s actions, voicing an opinion based on a tip, later confirmation from the Rec Center’s front desk staff, that the weights were removed because they fostered an “elitist environment.”

Other rumors said the Rec Center removed the weights after receiving a student petition to get rid of them.

And while the rumors have proven untrue, the student uproar led to a drafted student government resolution, threats to move to other Fort Collins’ gyms and a very real petition to “Save our Dumbbells.”

“Clearly the dumbbell situation occurred due to miscommunication and timing,” said Dave Frock, the Rec Center’s director of operations, in an e-mail to the Collegian. “This is a great learning opportunity for Campus Recreation staff, participants and members of the campus community that may have taken rumor for fact. Campus Recreation staff have learned from this and will be improved because of it. That is one of the best things about being on a college campus, it is a learning laboratory for the rest of our lives.”

According to Frock, the Rec Center staff moved the dumbbell rack containing the 90 to 120-pound weights “in response to the over-crowded conditions in the plate-loaded weight area that student users brought to Campus Recreation staff attention.”

He began responding to direct student complaints on Sept. 4, the day after the Rec Center staff removed the dumbbell rack by answering e-mail and voicemail inquiries from students, forming a focus group from those concerned students and inviting them to walk with him and share their thoughts. He also communicated with his student staff the accurate reasons for removing the weights.

And though the staff encourages students to continue voicing their feedback through e-mails and phone calls, Frock said he has already met with his staff to discuss both immediate and long-range changes to the layout.

The Rec Center plans to move the weights back within the next “few days,” but they will be moved to another location to provide more space in the plate-loaded weight area.

Judy Muenchow, the executive director of the Rec Center, said it’s more difficult to fix organization problems than many students realize.

“It takes days to move things,” Muenchow said. “You’re not just moving one piece of equipment.”

Moving one piece of equipment involves taking apart the equipment, organizing their placement, cleaning the area and making final adjustments.

But despite the efforts to move the weights back into the Rec Center, the staff has experienced organizational issues since the renovations “opened a week before Ram Welcome” in August, according to Muenchow.

“It was quite the scramble,” she said.

The Rec Center initially had to respond to student complaints that certain areas of the Rec Center ­–– especially the plate-loaded weight area –– were too crowded, a problem Muenchow said they anticipated in the first week.

The original plans for equipment were decided by a mix of pulling from industrial standards and expertise from the Rec Center’s professional staff. However, the staff will have to continue to move the equipment to meet safety standards and student preferences.

“We’re gonna tinker with (the layout) probably until the end of the school year until we get it right,” Muenchow said.

Brooks Brankis, a senior civil engineering major, said that although he liked the new Rec Center, especially the new fans, the constant changes were an issue.

“I’m gettin’ confused,” he said. “Stuff keeps getting moved around.”

Assistant News Editor David Martinez can be reached at news@collegian.com

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