“When I first came here in 1991 we had 13 very used Schwinn Airdynes, three weight benches, three squat cages and an old universal weight machine,” recalled Ty Stenzel, the University of St. Thomas strength coach and director of fitness. “We won’t even be in the same ball park with our new facilities.
“The difference will be like night and day. Overall, we’ll be ahead of what you’d find at most Division III schools, and in terms of recreation, this puts us right at the top of anything you’d find in the country.”
Stenzel was describing the new training and exercise areas he helped plan in the new Anderson Athletic and Recreation Complex that is scheduled to open this coming semester on the university’s St. Paul campus.
The training and exercise facilities are designed to meet the needs of two groups: varsity athletes and recreational users. “We are not entirely a health club, and not purely a varsity training site,” Stenzel explained. “What we came up with will accommodate all users.”
The facilities are located in four large rooms on the ground level of the complex. The 10,000-square-foot weight room and the 5,000-square-foot cardio room are side by side and look directly onto the O’Shaughnessy Stadium field and running track. There are two aerobic studios. One will have 25 to 30 “spinning bikes,” a type of exercise bicycle; the other will be used for aerobics classes and dance and cheer team practices.
Thanks to the extensive use of large windows and glass walls, the four areas will have a bright and open feel. Looking at the complex from the football field, the weight room will be on the north or left-hand side, and the cardio room will be on the south or right-hand side.
The new facilities will have completely new exercise equipment, Stenzel said. “Pat Regan, the director of purchasing for Life Time Fitness and father of St. Thomas student Patrick Regan, offered to help us select and acquire the new equipment.
“He was a tremendous help,” Stenzel said. “Pat helped us determine the mix of strength and cardio equipment, and he helped us negotiate outstanding pricing with the vendors.”
About a third of the weight room is designed primarily for varsity athletes, although the equipment can be used by everyone. There will be 16 power stations as well as two “lines” of equipment designed to exercise different muscle groups. One line has 14 machines and the other has 10. The idea is to start at the beginning of the line and work your way from machine to machine.
At least three times larger than the university’s former weight room in the now-demolished O’Shaughnessy Hall, the weight room will have an uncrowded and open feel. “You can never have enough floor space,” Stenzel said, noting that the room should comfortably accommodate 120 to 130 users at a time.
The adjacent cardio room, meanwhile, will have 90 pieces of equipment that will include 24 treadmills, 11 Adaptive Motion Trainers (a cross between a stair climber and an elliptical machine), 10 Octane Fitness elliptical machines, seven Precor elliptical machines, 12 Life Time cross trainers, six StairMaster StepMills (like climbing an escalator), two recombent bikes, seven upright bikes, two VersaClimbers (like climbing a ladder), and a Jacobs Ladder machine.
The cardio room will be equipped with five flat-screen televisions. A decision has not yet been made on how many televisions will be placed in the weight room.
Both the weight and cardio rooms will have staff on hand to answer questions and help users. Many of the staff will be students who are majoring in health and human performance.
Some of the equipment that once was used in the O’Shaughnessy Hall cardio room will find its way to McCarthy Gym, which is undergoing extensive renovations this summer on the south campus.
Stenzel explained that one well-used space that was lost with the demolition of O’Shaughnessy Hall was its third-floor gym. That was one of the reasons the pool at McCarthy is being filled this summer and replaced with a multipurpose gym.
While it is expected that most or all of the new athletic and recreation facilities at St. Thomas will open in time for fall semester, the exact opening date or dates, hours of operation, and various membership programs have not yet finalized.