Reily gets a renovation

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Recent changes to the layout of the Reily Student Recreation Center have strived to bring more women into the weight room. 

Will Potts, Senior Staff Reporter

The Reily Student Recreation Center, Tulane’s sole on-campus recreation facility, has long been a destination for health gurus and fitness fanatics. For years, the towering set of concrete steps separated the new muscle and the old muscle, as the facility resembled an inhospitable breeding ground between protein powder and sweat for any fresh faces.

That all changed as students and faculty returned to campus for the start of the 2015 school year. While the exterior of the complex remains unchanged, Reily administrators redesigned the interior in an effort to boost user friendliness. Specifically, the second-floor weight room underwent significant changes in its equipment arrangement.

Associate Director of Campus Recreation Facilities Dominique Ennis knew she wanted to make Reily stand apart when she began working at the school in October 2014.

According to Ennis, part of the reason the gym, especially the weight room, receives such a negative stigma is the unfriendly layout, which can seem unwelcoming to beginners.

“The standard for weight room facilities is that you have progression to more challenging and dangerous [equipment] further away from the main entrance and that was not the case here,” Ennis said. “So if you are a freshman or transfer who knows nothing about exercise the first thing you see is more than likely a man with these heavy dumbbells dropping them upon entry and that is pretty frightening.”

Now, each placement has a purpose. The select rise machines, which prioritize activation of individual target areas, are arranged in order of small to large muscle groups. This new arrangement, playfully dubbed the “streetcar line,” simplifies the often confusing process of planning the ideal workout. 

“If you are able to go in order you get a total body workout and you can head right on out the door,” Ennis said. “You can’t really beat that, especially when we have such a diverse population that is so crunched for time.” 

For some students, however, not all of the changes have been for the better. Sophomore J.J. Libler preferred the old fitness facility. 

“I would say it is more overwhelming to patrons now, because before there were neat and orderly rows of machines, but now there are more and they are more scattered,” Libler said.

Despite some criticisms, many agree that the alterations have made Reily more approachable than ever before. One of the initiatives involved installing QR codes on each machine within the complex. These codes, when scanned using the official Reily Center app, queue a video demonstration of the proper use of the machine. 

In addition, Reily now offers a streamlined equipment checkout process, allowing visitors to borrow accessories such as belts or bars to aid in their workout routine without leaving the weight room.

Though some of the issues associated with the weight room were fixed by rearranging equipment and adding state-of-the-art machinery, the gender gap within the space proves much tougher to bridge. 

To that end, the coordinators of the fitness center overhauled part of the fourth floor into a cardio court. This court features matrix step mills, Marpo rope trainers and a ladder-like treadmill.

These additions aim to combine weight training elements with cardiovascular exercises, which have typically been considered women’s practices. The motorized ladder rungs, called Jacob’s ladders, are a personal favorite of Ennis’.

“They are probably the worst of the worst … in a good way,” Ennis said. “The best of the best. The intense of the intense. It’s a very challenging total body fitness workout. [Jacob’s ladders are] not perceived for being for one gender or the other, as I’ve definitely seen more guys in the cardio space now because of that.”

With new changes and more visitors than before the renovations, Ennis hopes the enhanced Reily Center will serve not just the interests of its usual visitors, but the entire Tulane student body.

“It’s not just a weight room, we have a fitness program, we have outdoor recreation, we have intramural sports, we have club sports,” Ennis said. “We have opportunities for everybody.”