5 Things You Need to Know About the New ERC Weight Rooms

By: Shannon McHale ’15, CRS Weight/Fitness Supervisor

If you, like most college students, didn’t spend your summer reading up on the latest school facility news, you were probably surprised on your first visit back to the Eppley Recreation Center weight rooms.

While you were on break, we did a complete overhaul of both the upper and lower weight rooms. Old machines are gone, replaced by newer equipment, and the stuff we kept is totally rearranged.

The upper and lower weight rooms in Eppley Recreation Center were overhauled over the summer, introducing new equipment.

The upper and lower weight rooms in Eppley Recreation Center were overhauled over the summer, replacing old equipment with brand new machines.

As always, our goal is to better serve our patrons – and despite some initial shock, we think you’ll like the direction we took.

If you’re still skeptical, below are five things you need to know about the new weight rooms that might just change your mind.

1. It’s streamlined to make your workout go smoothly.

The upper weight room (UWR)  now houses all pin and plate-loaded machines, as well as a stretching area. The small free weights area is still standing, and is neighbored by brand-new sturdy plyometric boxes.

Why it’s better for you:  The machines around the perimeter of the UWR guarantee a full-body workout if you complete most exercises. Starting with the leg press in the corner, traveling along the railing and then the outside windows, you should hit your upper body, lower body, and core.

We’ve also focused on training staff on all equipment in the UWR. While weight room staff still aren’t allowed to assist you with free weights or plate-loaded machines, the assistance they can offer you on the rest of our equipment is better than ever before. Staff in this area are focused on safety, but also instruction.

The lower weight room (LWR) is home to the squat racks, benches, presses, and dead-lifting mats. The free weights are still by the mirror, and everything else remains untouched.

Why it’s better for you: It’s a one-stop shop for the big-kid lifts – bench, squat, overhead press, and dead-lifts. Bonus: the squat racks are now downstairs, so you won’t have to walk down the stairs after a tough leg day.

By grouping the equipment for heavier lifts together, we’re able to ensure that staff in the LWR are prepared to spot those lifts and be on the lookout for anything gone wrong. Removing the machines from this area allows our staff to focus on spotting and policy enforcement, so the room is as safe as possible when you’re getting ready to hit a new personal record.

2. The matrix cable machines are awesome. Like, really awesome.

Why it’s better for you: Beside the fact that these machines look like something out of the actual matrix, they’re equipped with all the necessary attachments for full-body training. We’ve simplified the workout process by combining equipment, so you can save all your energy for the actual workout.

We’ve heard your concerns about the trainers: Where is the lat pull-down!? The beloved seated row!? Have no fear – the machines can be set up to complete most cable exercises, including the lat pull-down and seated row. Don’t hesitate to ask weight room staff for direction in getting it set up.

3. We won’t be on your case as much about slamming the weights.

Don’t get too excited – you still can’t drop 100-lb. dumbbells with abandon. Slamming weights damages our equipment and floors, and can also be really obnoxious to other patrons working out.

We restricted dead-lifting to the lower weight room because we know that accidents happen and weights get dropped. With this new arrangement, your accidental slams won’t shake the ceiling above aspiring yogis in the aerobics studio.

4. The new set-up is more beginner friendly.

If you’re brand new to working out, setting foot into a packed two-story weight room can be, well, scary. The upper weight room is welcoming to both old friends and those just breaking into the world of fitness. Our stretching area, complete with stability and medicine balls, is a familiar sight for patrons who usually frequent the cardio or group fitness areas.

And like we mentioned above, following the perimeter of the room gives you a no-thought-required full body workout. If you’re completely lost, our free weight room orientations now take place solely in the upper weight room, where the additional open spaces give our orientation leaders plenty of room to show you the ropes.

5. The new weight room is a testament to the hard work of our student employees.

When we re-organized the weight rooms back in August, dozens of student employees worked through the night to move all the equipment. It’s true – student staff from weight/fitness, operations, and personal training stayed past 3:00 a.m. for some heavy lifting – talk about a workout!

We think the new weight room is awesome because it’s a visual reminder of how dedicated our students are to CRS, and, in turn, how dedicated they are to you, our patrons.

Your turn to WEIGH IN – what do you think of the new weight room layout?

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4 Responses to 5 Things You Need to Know About the New ERC Weight Rooms

  1. Craig Carignan says:

    I would like to echo the comments of “K” said in her Oct. 10 posting. As a long-time user of ERC (since it opened), I sincerely appreciate the recent efforts to make improvements to the upper/lower gyms and create a better fitness experience for everyone. However, several deficiencies exist mainly because of the removal of the Cybex cable/mod stations:
    • No Prone Seated Row
    • Only one Lat Pulldown
    • No Prone Leg Curl
    Some of the problems I’ve found with the Matrix Trainers include:
    • It’s very difficult to do proper chest cable crossovers because they are too close together.
    • There is no back support for doing tricep pushdowns to ensure proper posture.
    • The seat is poorly placed and there is no knee support to brace you during lat pulldowns.
    While I realize that the Matrix machines can replicate some of the lost functionality, I’ve found that these are more oriented toward strengthening the core than increasing strength.
    I was also very dismayed that the deadlift platform was removed from downstairs. It was heavily used and one of the most useful pieces of equipment in the gym. In order to do Romanian Deadlifts, I now have to drag an olympic bar halfway across the room, put 45 lb weights on it, and then reverse the process when I’m done. This actually creates more potential for accidents.
    It would have been good to consult with the people who use the gym before making such drastic changes with no chance of recovering the equipment taken away.

    • Thank you for taking the time to express your concerns regarding the new weight room layout. While we too enjoyed the Cybex modular, it was dated to the extent that we were having trouble obtaining parts to service it. We suggest that you use a stability ball to assist in maintaining proper posture on the lat pull down and seated row. We are currently exploring ordering platforms for the lower weight room; this will hopefully alleviate some of the deadlift issues that you’ve been having.

  2. K says:

    I am a student here at UMD for the last three years, and have been avidly using the ERC weight room multiple times a week since I was a freshman and could likely be using it for several more if I choose to do my graduate studies here.

    I am thrilled to see upgrades of any kind to the facility, it shows that even though we have world class facilities we are still looking to constantly improve them. But I must say, I have no idea who was consulted when these decisions were made; it sure wasn’t any avid gym-goers, because this was a step backwards in my opinion.

    In replacing all of the cable stations with these new multi-purpose machines we have completely lost out on a few exercises, and have reduced the effectiveness of several others by significantly reducing range of motion. You also forced to stand, kneel, or sit on the floor; severely limiting how you are able to focus on form as you’re not really able to brace yourself on anything. Are they shiny? Yes. Do they look cool? Yes. Did we need eight of them added at the expense of getting rid of every normal cable station? Nope. This is the first gym I’ve ever been to that doesn’t have any of the industry standard cable stations on which to do pull-down and seated rows.

    But I, like everyone else, will adjust to the new set up or go somewhere else. I just wish students were given the opportunity to provide some level of input before the changes were made, not after the fact when there is nil chance of any feedback resulting in a change. I can’t imagine it would have been hard to send out a mass email/survey to students who pay the Recreation Services fee; I get probably 15 emails a day from various UMD list severs asking/notifying me of a wide range of topics, I’d recommend in the future this be considered. Even if feedback is not heeded, it’s at least nice to know opinions were heard.

    • Thank you for taking the time to provide us with feedback regarding the weight room reorganization – we are always open to hearing patron concerns. During the spring semester, before we bought any new equipment, we met with a panel of patrons who are avid users of our weight rooms. We asked them for their feedback and evaluation of various equipment options, and ultimately, we purchased was what was unanimously agreed upon.

      There are bound to be some growing pains with any change as big as this one, but there are a few options that should make things go more smoothly. The plyometric boxes and stability balls can be used with the Matrix machines to allow a wider range of motion without having to sit or kneel on the floor. Sitting on a box or stability ball would also enable you to do lat pull downs and seated rows on the Matrix machines.

      The good news is that if you really miss the old cable machines, we have one in both the SPH weight room and fitness center (SPH 0103 and SPH 0101, respectively). The SPH weight room is open Monday through Friday from 5:30p.m.- 10:00 p.m. The fitness center is open for student use 8:00- 11:30 a.m., 1:00- 4:30 p.m., and 6:30-10:00 p.m. those same days.

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