Even since my freshman year in college, I’ve gone to a tiny gym in the Maucker Union, Health Beat, when I wanted to work out. The gym was small, usually not super busy, and was just a short walk from my dorm, and then my house. But, this year, during my first week of school, I got dressed in athletic wear and walked over to the Union to do my workout and found an Esports/gaming area in its place. My jaw dropped. The University replaced a gym with a gaming area.
Since then, I’ve struggled with what to do next, I don’t have a car, which means if I want to go to the gym I have to brave the eighteen-minute, nearly mile-long walk to get there, and then repeat it after my workout to get back. The walk length is also consistent among all of the dorms; According to google maps; from Rider Hall, it’s seventeen minutes, from Dancer Hall it’s twelve minutes, and from Panther Village, it’s nineteen minutes. Meaning if I want to go to the gym, I have to leave at least thirty-six minutes for the walk there and back, not including my workout. This is a stark difference from the five-minute walk to the Union from my house. This distance, and my busy schedule, make it nearly impossible for a full-time student with a part-time job to work out on campus.
This change has made it even harder for students at the University of Northern Iowa to work out, especially if they are like me and have very limited breaks, making a quick stop at Health Beat the ultimate miracle. Additionally, working out has some serious benefits; Colorado Technical University states that working out can result in heightened focus, elevated mood (lower stress), increased energy, and sharper memory. All benefits may make the difficulty of living college life on your own just a bit easier.
Along with this, turning a gym into a gaming area results in some interesting thoughts. Though I can argue that gaming is likely popular at the University, and is probably a better utilization of the space, gaming has far fewer positive benefits than a gym. According to Harvard University; “Gaming has also been associated with sleep deprivation, insomnia, circadian rhythm disorders, depression, aggression, and anxiety.” On the other hand, According to the CDC, working out “can improve your brain health, help manage weight, reduce the risk of disease, strengthen bones and muscles, and improve your ability to do everyday activities,” and that’s not even all of the benefits.
I understand why the change took place, the gym was likely not being utilized enough for the University to call the expense worth it, and chairs and tables are far cheaper than workout equipment, but the University has unintentionally made it far more difficult for students to work out on campus.