Extend the Fitness Center’s hours

To determine whether students would take advantage of these extended hours, the university could have a trial period.

Franklin Rinko

I started the Change.org petition to extend the Washington and Lee University Fitness Center hours because I think that, if implemented, student life would be greatly enhanced.

Currently, the Fitness Center closes at 10:30 p.m. Sunday through Thursday, and closes at 8:00 p.m. on Friday and Saturday. Students here are encouraged to get involved, and many of them do, whether in Greek life, community service, advocacy or other organizations. After classes and dinner, many students have meetings and extracurricular responsibilities, leading them to have a late start on homework. Going to the gym before doing any homework feels like procrastinating, so many people would prefer to go later.

However, by the time students make progress on their homework and are ready to go to the gym, it can often be 10:00 p.m. or later, with only a little bit of time left before the gym closes. Other facilities on campus are open much later than this, such as Leyburn Library, which has a work study student employee at the desk until 11:30 p.m. daily. Co-op is open until 2:00 a.m. Why can students purchase loaded fries and energy drinks until 2:00 a.m., but can’t run on a treadmill? I would argue that exercise is a much healthier and in many ways better way to take a study break, and going to the gym has further benefits on mental health and wellbeing. I know that I am not alone in this—it is not uncommon to hear people say that they’ve had to cut a workout short or skip a workout because the gym closes at 10:30.

I had originally proposed that the gym be open 24/7, but after speaking with other students I feel like this may be an unreasonable request. I merely think that gym hours should align with realistic student use, whatever that may be. I think the gym should at minimum be open until midnight each day, and perhaps even later.

To determine whether students would take advantage of these extended hours, the university could have a trial period in which the gym is open until 2:00 a.m., lasting for a week or two. During this trial period, staff could monitor the number of students coming in, and if they see that many students are coming between the hours of 11:00 and 12:00, for example, daily hours could be extended to this time. Perhaps work study students working these late hours could have an increase in pay for these shifts, as well. The gym is meant to be an asset to student wellbeing. If it can be better and more effectively used for the benefit of student health, shouldn’t it? In the recent petition that I sent around, I received over 200 responses in only two days. Now, at nearly 240 responses and counting, I believe this petition highlights the importance and pertinence of this issue on campus.

Help make W&L a healthier place for all students, with an open and accessible Fitness Center that is tailored to the busy lives of students on campus, with later hours. Sign the “W&L Fitness Center: Extended Hours” petition with me.