At 147,000 square feet, Southwest Recreation Center is a hub for University of Florida (UF) students looking to get active. The two-story athletic facility includes an indoor track, four basketball courts, strength and conditioning spaces, a cardio room, a multi-purpose activity court and more.
Now, the recreation center is also home to a 20,000-square-foot weight room — the culmination of a three-year process that expanded the existing room by 7,000 square feet. The renovated space opened officially to members and UF students Feb. 6.
Higher wait times during peak seasons was the main reason for the expansion, said Darcie Burde, senior associate director for programs. In the past, students wanting to use a piece of equipment in the weight room may have had to wait in line until equipment became available.
“Recreational Sports takes it seriously if we’re not able to meet the need,” Burde said. “How do we adapt and change to be able to do that better?”
The weight room renovation integrated several new amenities and equipment. Now, the space includes artificial turf and isolated workstations where individuals can work out using pull up bars, medicine balls, kettlebells, Bulgarian Bags, dumbbells, barbells and other weight-training items.
The new space also includes more dead-lifting platforms and a total of 13 squat racks — one of the most popular pieces of weight room equipment among students.
The project was proposed to the Capital Improvement Trust Fund committee in March 2020, and initial funding came through later that October — after which the department began working closely with UF’s Department of Planning, Design and Construction. This past summer, construction officially began.
With an increased capacity, no lines have formed outside the room since opening, Burde said. Instead, students have provided feedback about how open and uncrowded the new space is.
Students have also responded positively to many of the weight room’s various equipment upgrades, Burde said.
“There’s awe of the new equipment in there and appreciation of the more traditional pieces that they have had to wait for in the past,” she said.
Southwest Recreation Center is only one of four facilities offered by the Department of Recreational Sports, two of which are on-campus recreation centers. This includes the Student Recreation & Fitness Center, Lake Wauburg and Center for Outdoor Recreation and Education.
The department is looking forward to the future of Southwest Recreation Center and similar facilities, said Laura Hall, director of recreational sports.
“We are really excited to be better serving the recreational needs of our students,” Hall said. “And that job isn’t over.”
Writer: Veronica Nocera, firstname.lastname@example.org
Source: Darcie Burde, email@example.com;
Laura Hall, firstname.lastname@example.org
Learn more about Southwest Recreation Center and the Department of Recreational Sports.