May 24, 2019 | 60° F

U. lacks enough concern for students' health

Opinions Column: Digital Canvas


In past years, health education and government intervention has focused much of its attention on childhood obesity. The First Lady herself promotes exercising, eating right and learning how to stay active and in good health from a young age. The American population has been overwrought with unhealthy kids and adults and the negative affects that excessive weight has on our bodies. But knowing this, the world has gone into health overdrive. Young millennials have taken a stand against unhealthy living and have gone organic. You see people on Paleo diets, eating gluten-free and non-genetically modified foods and working out for endless hours “getting swole.” There are even a surprising number of young men and women taking up body-building and participating in “bikini” competitions, transforming their bodies and ways of life completely. The drastic changes our society’s physical state has gone through is both inspiring and crazy, when you think about it. Although obesity is still a major problem, the entire world is aware of it now, and we are making a conscious effort to better the old habits that led to the obesity problem.

The Rutgers gyms are a prime example of this millennial conversion from couch potato to gym rat. Walking into any recreation center on campus, you might notice guys and girls walking around with notebooks and pens keeping count of their reps and following strategic workouts. You might notice students walking around with gallons of water and protein shakes in hand before heading into the College Avenue Gymnasium. You might notice some staring at themselves while curling dumbbells and taking pictures of their biceps to post on Facebook with a motivational quote. It is an encouraging sight to see so many young people making an effort to both look good and feel good. The effects of their hard work now will last throughout their lives, and hopefully be passed down for years and years, pushing our world away from the unhealthy lifestyles Americans are so well-known for.

However, most upsides tend to be paired with a downside. With all of these recently health conscious students, Rutgers’ gyms have become less accessible than they have in past years. Many stalk the cardio machines waiting for people to get off before their 45 minutes are up, with hoards of people waiting to use the Smith machine and the leg press. The handful of treadmills and ellipticals are not enough for the masses of students that pass through the College Avenue Gymnasium everyday. And although it has recently been renovated, along with the Cook/Douglass Recreation Center, there is still just not enough equipment or space to accommodate everyone. I can’t speak for the Livingston Recreation Center or Sonny Werblin Recreation Center, but I would imagine the case is the same on campuses other than College Avenue. Most people have found that they need to go to the gym at obscure times to get a complete workout in without spending three hours searching for weights or waiting for a StairMaster. There have been a couple of instances where I have been turned away because the gym was at capacity, thusly forcing me to take a bus to another campus just to run a couple miles on a treadmill. The fact of the matter is that students need bigger spaces and more resources to stay fit without the frustration of sweating in close proximity to so many other people.

Some might argue otherwise, but when most people dread wondering if they will find space on a mat, the fact of the matter is that there is a problem. Recently, I have found a small something that can help fix this problem of the overcrowded gym. The app, "upace" helps to eliminate wait time and notify students whether or not the gyms are at capacity or completely empty. Since I have only recently found out about this, it has been useful the past couple of weeks in avoiding a jam-packed recreation center.

Universities are always concerned with their student’s health. They provide gyms, flex passes and healthy food options to keep students motivated to maintain healthy lifestyles. However, when I look around Rutgers and notice new, unknown buildings popping up every couple of months, I wonder what the administration finds more important, our health or our donors? I wonder why our funding goes toward building a hotel-like Honors College rather than expanding the places that keep our bodies and minds in good condition. Rather than putting hundreds of thousands of dollars toward the football team, if just a portion of that money were to go to the expansion of student gymnasiums, a lot of dissatisfied students can be avoided.

Epatia Lilikas is a School of Arts and Sciences junior majoring in English and economics. Her column, “Digital Canvas,” runs monthly on Wednesdays.


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Epatia Lilikas

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