New ideas shape campus health club expansion

Grunting and sweating promise to be much more enjoyable activities by 2003. By then the David S. Pottruck Health and Fitness Center, a state-of-the-art recreational space totaling 65,000 square feet, will have made its debut.

The addition will more than double the size of Gimbel Gym’s existing indoor recreational space, from 50,000 to 115,000 square feet, and provide more room for informal recreation, sport clubs, fitness and wellness classes, and intramural sport.

“[Pottruck] is dedicated more toward the entire University community, not just one particular group,” said Director of Athletics Steve Bilsky.

Behind the facility is a new philosophy, one that encourages “self-directed workouts,” said Bilsky, who compares the approach to one taken by today’s health clubs, which attempts to accommodate the various and ever-changing needs of its members.

Individuals who come to the gym with a set activity in mind—whether it be to use a particular piece of exercise equipment, swim or participate in an aerobics class—will welcome this new emphasis. Many of the rooms in the facility will be multi-functional, able to adapt to changes in exercising trends.

The gym also has features that distinguish it from other health clubs such as, a built-in climbing wall and a golf center. Bilsky said that more than $1 million has been invested in equipment alone, which includes new cardiovascular and strength-training machines.

The facility will also link members to personal equipment. A pro shop will sell sports equipment, said Carla Shultzberg, director of Athletic Communications. Supplies like goggles will be available for purchase and members can even put in orders for specialized shoes.

And to help members achieve their fitness goals, more instructors will be added. According to Mike Diorka, director of Recreation Sports Program and Service, the largest increase in the number of classes will be in aerobic exercise. Two aerobic rooms with wood flooring, mirrored walls and sound systems will help whip hearts and lungs into shape. Among the many other instructional classes are dance, martial arts, spinning and aquatics.

But the new gym will be more than just workout space; it’ll also be a place for friends to hang out. After getting a healthy drink from the juice bar, members can enjoy seating underneath a glass atrium.

“You’ll have more space in a pleasant environment,” said Bilsky. And more time to enjoy it all. Expect expanded hours once the facility opens.

The membership drive for Pottruck kicks off this April. Undergraduates are automatically enrolled via the student recreation fee. Faculty and staff will get a $50 discount off the annual fee for the first year if they sign up before Sept. 1.

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Originally published on April 11, 2002