Frank Huang / Mustang News

The Cal Poly Recreation Center stands out as a bright, modern space where students can go to sweat, study and sleep.

But unbeknownst to the approximately 7,000 yogis, runners, lifters and casual exercisers that head to the Recreation Center daily, their seemingly routine outings at the gym are guided by subtle environmental cues hidden within the center’s design.

“It’s all intentional,” Associated Students, Inc. (ASI) Director of Facilities Management Ron Skamfer said.

When plans for the current Recreation Center were being made, surveys conducted by the University Union Advisory Board (UUAB) and information considered by an outside consultant determined that students needed a renovated recreational facility that welcomed and accommodated all types of exercisers. Student feedback and recommendations gathered by the UUAB were constantly communicated to CannonDesign, the global architecture firm that designed the current Recreation Center. Consequently, the facility was constructed with meticulous strategy and purpose.

Welcome without weights
As students enter the wide walkways of the Recreation Center, they are greeted by the sound of light activity in the gym, the casual social scene in the lounge areas and an inviting pool in the background. This establishes an aura of openness and functionality.

“The core tenet was to build a facility that didn’t feel like a weight room,” Skamfer said.

Assistant Director of Recreational Sports Nancy Clark added that this first visual presentation contributes to the idea that the Recreation Center is “not just a gym, but a place to socialize, meet friends and study.”

Both Skamfer and Clark point out that each room’s vibe and comfort level are ultimately defined by the equipment placed there.

Students will find more hardcore weight training in the lower exercise room where the Olympic lifting platforms are located, while a cardio culture dominates the upper exercise area.

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Working out with a view
Juxtaposing intense sweat sessions in the upstairs cardio arena, peaceful scenes of campus and a distant Bishop Peak fill students’ line of sight as they pound away on treadmills.

“Maximizing these views was very strategic,” Skamfer said. “Students shouldn’t feel like they’re boxed in.”

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Thanks to the glass walls throughout the building, the flood of natural light contributes to this sense of serenity. The former Recreation Center, built in 1993, lacked the open layout that characterizes the current facility.

Cleanliness is next to godliness
Despite opening more than five years ago, the Recreation Center is still in incredible condition.

“Cleanliness is a critical component of a high-quality recreational facility,” Skamfer said.

A full-time maintenance team assesses repairs and works to prolong equipment while student employees under ASI and a 24-hour custodial crew ensure the space is kept clean.

Moving away from the limelight
When designing the recreational facility, UUAB and CannonDesign kept in mind those students who prefer to find their own comfortable spaces to exercise away from the bustle of fellow gym-goers.

Throughout the upstairs level, there are areas segmented from the main floor along the wall allowing for more private exercise routines.

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The three studios also offer additional space for more secluded workouts. When classes are not in session, students are free to use the weights and mats in the rooms.

Post from RICOH THETA. #theta360 – Spherical Image – RICOH THETA

According to Skamfer, students were not always able to enjoy this privilege at the new facility. However, as the number of students using the Recreation Center increased, it was evident that more fitness space was needed.

The debated dress code
The gym dress code is enforced to promote inclusivity within the gym.

“You don’t need to be a bodybuilder,” Clark said. “We want students to feel comfortable coming here.”

The dress code, which discourages students from wearing deep side-cut muscle tanks and shirts heavily exposing their back or midriff, is rather lenient compared to former regulations. Prior to UUAB’s instrumental role in changing the dress code, students were required to wear full-sleeved t-shirts and regular tank tops; no “altered tops” were allowed.

More coverage also promotes more hygienic practices. According to Clark, less direct bodily contact with gym equipment reduces deterioration of equipment from the oils and salts of sweat.

Cal Poly is not an anomaly when it comes to dress codes in college recreational centers; schools like San Diego State University and California State University, Bakersfield also enforce rules regarding appropriate athletic attire.

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