Many Belmont students have complained that the Beaman Student Life Center is not large enough to accommodate the university’s ever-growing student population.
Its recreational facilities include two racquetball courts, a rock climbing wall, one basketball court and a gym with a maximum occupancy of 85.
For students who use them regularly, such as freshman David Richt, these facilities just aren’t enough.
“The workout area and basketball court aren’t big enough,” he said. “Countless times, a workout that’s supposed to take 45-60 minutes ends up taking much more, like 1 1/2-2 hours.”
On other occasions, Richt has competed with as many as two other groups for the use of the single basketball court, he said.
This not only makes the workout less convenient, but it decreases the athletic quality, as well.
“It interrupts your heart rate, you have to find other things to do in the gym, you don’t burn as much, all that crazy stuff,” Richt said. Freshman Tailor Acosta shared Richt’s complaints about waiting for a workout.
“At the beginning of the semester, there was, like, a 30 minute wait even to get on the treadmill,” she said. “And, there’s not a good place to wait. You’re just kind of in the gym, standing around.”
Even the group fitness classes, such as spin, yoga and cardio blast, are crowded.
“I usually take the yoga class on Tuesdays,” freshman Alexandra Henry said. “And it has been really full this semester.”
She suggests offering multiple class times, or even expanding the Beaman altogether.
“I think it should probably expand because the school itself is expanding. If they are considering expanding or improving it, I will support that,” she said.
Jamie Zeller, assistant director of fitness and recreation, said there are no plans to expand the center but is aware of the size problem.
“It’s not anything new, and it’s been an issue since we opened 10 1/2 years ago,” Zeller
Since the opening, university growth and expansion with fitness and recreation department have added strain to the center.
When construction finished on the Beaman in 2003, the population of Belmont was a fraction of what it is today. In only 10 years, the number has grown from roughly 3,800 students to the 7,000 who attend the school now.
Over the course of those 10 years, the percent growth per year in intramural participation has exceeded the percent growth per year in university enrollment.
Additionally, for the 2013-2014 academic year so far, 64 percent of Belmont’s undergraduates have used the Beaman at least once, as logged by the facility’s new ID swipe system, Zeller said.
“We’re drawing in more people that didn’t participate the year before, which is a great thing,” he said. “But the bad thing is that we’re limited in facilities. We have one court.”
While there are currently no plans to expand the building, hopefully things will change in the next five years, Zeller said.
In the meantime, however, students have to be creative in their workout schedule.
He recommends students figure out the holes in their schedule so that they can avoid the most popular workout times, or substitute running on a treadmill for another cardio workout.
“Our focus has always been trying to maximize the space with the equipment that we have,” Zeller said. “We’re currently looking at taking a proposal up to get more money to purchase new equipment.”
And even though space is limited, the department has doubled the number of treadmills over the years.
There have also been talks about taking underused parts of campus and potentially transforming them into satellite facilities, he said, or even moving off campus.
“One of the things we want to do is try to find access to a pool for Belmont students. We have a very good possibility and the potential to at least give students access to a pool at no charge.”
For now, the department is focusing on maximizing the available space to give the students the best experience possible, he said.
“We can’t help that the facility is too small, and I’m not going to be putting a shovel in the ground or putting bricks up anytime soon to expand it,” Zeller said. “But the thing that I can control is the experience the students have when they come in here.”