Student | Rita Mataruka
Picture this: you, drenched in sweat, pathetically trying to work your glutes (so that you can obtain that Beyoncé bum you’ve always wanted) amidst a host of intimidating athletes, glistening and grunting their way through reps. Scattered amongst these professionals are beast machines, resembling closer to aliens than exercise equipment. For some, I just described your natural habitat. But for the novice/sporadic gym attendee, the atmosphere described can be off putting to the extent in which you might decide to boycott the gym for the duration of your degree. Welcome to our new gym.
Having had the opportunity to test out various gyms – from the impressively equipped Kings College London Bridge structure to my local Bournemouth University’s modern setup – I can honestly say that in comparison, the old RHUL equated to a gym storage facility. So what’s my verdict of the new installation I hear you ask? Well…
Once you walk into the gym you experience an atmosphere shift; an atmosphere very unique to the previous one provoked prior to renovation. Gone are the spent leg presses and tiresome-looking dumbbells. The new gym boasts various high tech equipment (such as touch screen operated treadmills), contained within a building that has a cleaner and more modern feel. This is an atmosphere that beckons you to don your best gym gear and prepare to break a sweat.
The revamping of the Jane Holloway Hall is also impressive. No longer resembling a bleak, middle-school sports hall, instead you enter a spacious studio fitted with new flooring and completed with techno lighting serving as an extra source of encouragement as you power through your classes. My current favourite being the GRIT series (cardio, strength and PLYO) as I have found that it is a mental as well as a physical excursion, really encouraging you to test your limits as you push through each rep.
The eradication of the studio, however, was a mistake. As an avid gym attendee myself, I can understand the intimidation behind most of the beast machines found in the gym. Hence, the studio provided a good alternative in which users had access to weights and mats in (what felt like) a more private atmosphere. If you refer back to the introductory paragraph, this details my recent experience with the poor replacement (a strip of Astro turf split into two lanes). Other scenarios experienced so far include: working almost shoulder to shoulder with a stranger during an ab circuit and almost being run over by a resistance sled being shoved by a very motivated individual.
Another problem is the lack of mirrors. A common misconception of a gym-goer is that we bestow an inflated ego as we are typically found glaring at our reflections whilst exercising. When in reality, most of us are using the mirror to check our form. This ensures that we maximise the benefit of each exercise and minimise any potential injury that could be caused. Unfortunately, the only mirrors available in the gym currently are the ones situated in front of the treadmills, who arguably need them the least.
Of course, Holloway isn’t famously known for generously dishing out funds towards its sport facilities over the years. However, with the improvements to the gym and Jane Holloway Hall there is new hope that this is just one of many financial contributions being made towards the quality of sports facilities. The effect of more funding towards sport facilities is incentive. Incentive for regular gym attendees to achieve their goals more efficiently through the use of modern equipment, but also the average student who is looking to maintain a healthy and balanced lifestyle whilst at university.