Dear Lou Anna,
My days are spent like most other college freshmen. I wake up, head to the cafeteria, go to classes, Facebook for a while: you know, the usual. And after long hours of taking notes, listening to rambling lectures and walking or biking around campus, it comes time to hit the weights. Where do I turn? Like most other students, I head to the convenient IM gyms on campus.
Intramural facilities on MSU’s campus, such as IM West, IM East and IM Circle, can be used by students, alumni and faculty. The buildings are often used for lifting weights, competing in various sports and staying active. And over the past two years, there have been vast upgrades at MSU’s IM buildings: the gyms have been completely repainted, and the weight rooms refurnished. But the questions remain. Are these changes enough? Are the MSU gyms worth the annual membership costs?
It seems as though many students have noticed and appreciated the remodeling of the IM Sports facilities, L.A., so props to putting funds toward revamps. The $5.5 million renovation at IM West has bought state-of-the-art equipment, which is up to par with any gym in the area. The cardiovascular machines – treadmills, elliptical trainers, stair climbers – received major face-lifts. The majority of the cardio machines now have TV screens and attached DVD players. Because of the transformations the building has undergone, more students than ever are now using the IM West facility.
As great as all of this is, L.A., there are also many downfalls to the new building. The students who buy a membership are now paying off the $5.5 million that was sunk in to remodeling. Now, this doesn’t seem quite right. The IM West building is obviously nice, but the costs seem to be too much for the average student. Currently, the minimum cost to use the IM West weight room is $135, and the deluxe package, which includes access to the pools and various classes, is another $50. As for MSU’s faithful alumni, they have to pay anywhere from $360-$390 for two semesters. The MSU faculty pays $160, and that is for the two fitness rooms only. “The price compared to [any other gym in the area] is actually pretty fair,” no-preference freshman Pat Guysky said. “But the IM buildings should be free because of the amount of tuition that we pay.”
L.A., with the cost of tuition being at an all-time high, and things not getting any better, the main “knock” on the IM weight rooms is they are too costly. MSU is one of the only universities in Michigan that charges for their IM facilities. At both Central Michigan University and Grand Valley State University, the cost of a 12-month membership to their recreation centers (the equivalent of our IM buildings) is free for students and staff. MSU, CMU and GVSU all rely heavily on state funding. Therefore, if these other institutions can offer free weight rooms and recreation centers, MSU should do the same.
At Western Michigan, students who go to school full-time do not pay anything for their recreation buildings. And in Bronco country, part-time students only have to pay $37.50. Now, that is a steal, L.A.: this is nearly four times cheaper than the cost at Michigan State for a full-time student.
Even U-M, our arch-nemesis, has a much better plan. Instead of paying for their recreational buildings, and then paying for the IM sports and other things, U-M students pay a “student activity fee,” one catch-all payment. Instead of paying $185 to use the fitness building, and then paying $55 for IM football and $35 for IM basketball, they just pay a one-time fee. Keep in mind, L.A., this fee is still cheaper than the price we pay here for just the IM weight room. [josh]
Another downfall with the IM buildings is the wait times for equipment. Even though the weight room at the IM West building is fairly large, due to the hours that they post, it is overcrowded at most times. “I think that the weight room is nice, but it is always busy,” secondary education sophomore Josh Wrinkle said. “There isn’t a time that you go in there and don’t wait for a machine.” The last thing most students want to deal with when they are working out is waiting in a line to use a treadmill, but this seems to constantly be the case at MSU’s IM gym facilities. A main reason for this is the facilities’ limited hours.
The weight room is open until 11 p.m. on Monday through Wednesday, and until 12 a.m. on Thursday through Saturday. On Sundays, IM West is only open until 9 p.m. The hours at IM East are slightly different than at IM West – they are an hour shorter every day except for Thursday and Friday. And on Saturdays at IM East, they are only open until 8 p.m.
The IM Circle building stays open the least amount of hours. On Saturday and Sunday, it is only open until 4:30 p.m. IM Circle stays open until 10 p.m. for the rest of the week, but closes early on Friday, at 8 p.m. So to put this in perspective, the students who pay the same amount of money to use the IM East building aren’t getting the same hours. On the plus side, there is just one cost for the IM West and East buildings, and students can use either facility with a membership purchase.
The IM sports facilities should do a better job of catering to the busy lifestyles of most college students, offering more flexible hours. U-M’s recreation center, for example, is open past midnight. Many competing gyms in the area are open 24 hours, which cuts down on overcrowding.
If students don’t have the means or motivation to venture to local East Lansing and Lansing workout facilities, many choose to avoid the IM buildings by working out in the dorms. Many dorms have their own weight rooms in the basements of the buildings. Although these weight rooms are usually lower in quality, some people choose to use them over the IM facilities. Pre-nursing freshman Loren Evola thinks if the IM West would cut its membership cost, she would work out there. “I just settle for the weight room that the dorm has, because it is a lot cheaper,” she said.
Along with the building being very crowded, IM West has a few other downfalls. “The building is really hot and very humid,” biology sophomore Mike Armstrong said. Because of the tremendous turnout each day, the weight room is smothering hot – most weight room users would probably agree that a few fans in different areas of the room wouldn’t hurt.
[marx]L.A. I understand that MSU has faced financial stresses over the past year, and I recognize there should be some sort of a fee in place to use these IM buildings. Because of all of the work that has been put into rooms, and all the money that has been embalmed in the equipment, the university needs to make that up in some way. But instead of charging an enormous amount of money just to use the building, MSU should take a look around and borrow some ideas from other schools in the state, such as paying a one-time student activity fee.
Overall, the newly remodeled IM West building is equipped with the best of the best, yet compared to other universities, it has some of the worst prices. “A few fans and better hours would improve the weight room a ton,” accounting freshman Kevin Jasonowicz said. As a freshman coming into MSU, I love the IM West building. I enjoy the weight room, and all of its amenities. Compared to gyms around the area, it is adequate in terms of available equipment. Yet, I am beginning to see how expensive college is, L.A., and the extra cost to work out doesn’t help.
If the hours could be more flexible to suit the needs of an everyday MSU student, and the cost could fit better into a college student’s budget, then the remodeling that took place two years ago would finally be complete.
Fit N. Broke