Student government looks to expand fitness center


The new proposed fitness center in the Henley Hall basement will be 600 square-feet, 15 percent bigger than the Julianne Argyros Fitness Center, pictured above. Photo by Bonnie Cash

Student government is pushing for a $1.2 million proposed expansion to the Julianne Argyros Fitness Center. If approved, construction could begin as early as summer 2019, and open for student use by fall 2019. Findings from annual student satisfaction surveys show that students aren’t satisfied with the 4,000 square-foot fitness center on campus, said Mitchell Rosenberg, president of student government.

“We were lacking space and availability of equipment at the most popular times,” Rosenberg said. “We were able to compare that data to other institutions (like University of San Diego, Loyola Marymount University, California State University, Long Beach and more), and we found that we were falling way behind.”

Both student government and Michael Keyser, assistant director of the fitness center, are working to find space on campus for the proposed expansion. Keyser said the university has seen student satisfaction with the fitness center decrease steadily each year, which lead Rosenberg to propose the project back in September 2016.

“We’ve learned that students want more physical room … The university has gotten bigger, and it seems like we need more space,” Keyser said.

One of the locations student government is considering for the fitness center expansion is part of the Henley Hall basement, which now houses the recreational lounge area, the John Briggs Conference Room (JBCR) and the old snack shop Doy’s Place, which closed in summer 2016. The area in Henley Hall where the new gym could be housed spans 4,600 square feet, which is larger than the current fitness center. Other dedicated spaces, like Chapman Radio, the Residence Life office, the laundry room and the music room would not be impacted by construction.

“Our goal is to find a permanent home for the pool tables and Ping-Pong tables, so that location isn’t identified yet, but it’s on the minds of all of us to identify a space to move them to,” Rosenberg said. “We’re going to continue approaching students … to get a larger sense of what they think.”

The existing Henley Hall basement’s 1,230 square-foot exercise room will be converted into a meeting space since the JBCR is being taken over. The meeting room will be converted into a group fitness room, so students who attend weekly group fitness classes like Zumba, yoga or kickboxing will no longer walk into Argyros Forum with workout gear in hand. With the additional space, Union Fit classes could accommodate more people and grant easier access to nearby gym equipment.

“What we really think we need that we don’t have is a group fitness room, a dedicated room where we can do classes,” Keyser said.
More cardio and strength equipment will be added to the new gym space, but Keyser said the initiative is still in its initial phase, so the university leadership hasn’t yet confirmed that they will move forward with the proposal.

“As a fitness and recreation department, we’re definitely on board with the need for more space, and at this point, it appears that this is the only option to do it in the short term,” Keyser said.

The basketball court near the dorms is another option for the new gym, but all-new architecture in place of the courts could end up costing much more than the proposed $1.2 million, Rosenberg said.

“(The university) proposed taking out the dorm basketball courts and building a one-story structure … That space isn’t ideal, in my opinion, because you’re taking away existing space that students really do utilize,” Rosenberg said.

The second floor of the Julianne Argyros Fitness Center attached to the basketball courts in the Harold Hutton Sports Center, was also looked at as a possible space for the expansion because the building is near the original gym. It wasn’t ultimately chosen as the university needs the space to host up to 1,600 people for events like Discover Chapman Day and Preview Day, which are for prospective freshmen and their family members.

“In order to (expand the fitness center) … we were proposing that we remove the bleachers there,” Rosenberg said. “The university’s response was that they didn’t want to do that at this point because that’s our largest holding space on campus … (and) when you pull the bleachers out, they take over that space.”

Rosenberg does not yet know where the $1.2 million dollars will come from, but student tuition will remain the same. The proposal is not yet approved, but Rosenberg is confident that it will do so in the next few months.

“We’re really eager to get student feedback on this. We only want to continue moving forward if students are comfortable with this expansion,” Rosenberg said.