By: Katelyn Van Swol

At the end of last year, the new fitness center in the Wilmore Center athletic facility (formerly known as Storzer) officially opened and other areas are following quickly . At the same time the Bovay fitness center was closed down, leading to a new setup where all athletes and non-athletes now will be using the same space for exercise activities.
Athletic Director Julie Johnson has high hopes for this new, more combined use of the space.

“There were three main priorities when this idea was first created: the larger student body, varsity athletics, and the community,” Johnson said.
In regards to the student body, Johnson explained that “a larger space for the student body to go to was necessary as the stresses and demands of busy student schedules created a need for students to get away and focus on taking care of their bodies as well as their minds.”

Varsity athletics needed more space to support all of the growing teams on campus, particularly track and field and the men’s tennis team. Johnson noted that the tennis team had to travel to Oshkosh for practice this past year, as there was no room for them at Ripon College, and this “took valuable time out of these student’s days for studying and other activities.”
Finally, Johnson wanted to create a stronger connection with the community and provide them with a place to exercise, particularly in the winter. Her hope: “that people will use the facility, even if it just to walk laps on the track or use a treadmill, in order to stay safe and healthy through the winter.”

Another aspect of this new combined fitness center is the fact that these improvements can now help with more hands-on educational opportunities for students in the exercise science programs. “There will be chances for students to use the facilities to put into practice what they are learning and help to teach fellow students, faculty, and eventually the community,” Professor Mark Cole said.

This help could range from proper lifting technique to helping take care of injuries that may occur. In fact, Cole said that there are already two students doing just that, acting as personal trainers and helping people to identify and reach their health goals in safe and healthy ways. “We are taking a look at the current curriculum and the hope is that it can be adjusted in order to create an even more hands-on approach through using the new building facilities,” Cole said.

Overall, Johnson said “the main goal was to create more of a connection within the student body, and the wider area of Ripon, through the use of this shared space.”
She likened it to other events of the past that have brought the college and Ripon community together, stating “when something benefits one, it always seems to benefit the other.”
This trend already is being seen in the early stages of this transformation.

“I am already seeing new faces every single day, which is extremely positive, as it shows people are interested in making this work,” Johnson said.