An expanded fitness center on the second floor of McMahon Hall opened this semester after a $4 million renovation, offering more space, more natural light, a variety of new workout equipment, and refurbished lockers and shower stalls.

free weights
Free weights in the new weight room

Instead of a single room, the new center now comprises four rooms. The original space now houses new cardio equipment and locker rooms, while a second space—built across from the original one—houses free weights and weightlifting machines. New windows looking onto the plaza were also added to both rooms, dramatically increasing the center’s visibility and access to natural light.

For cardio workouts, there are five treadmills, 10 elliptical bicycles that offer both recumbent and upright seating and large video screens and interactive programming, two rowing machines, and a stair climber.

For core workouts, there are six machines—a glute coaster, back extension, abs bench x3, rotary torso, vertical crunch, and the tire flip 180, which simulates the experience of lifting half a tractor tire. There are also free weights, medicine balls, and a boxing bag.

a recumbent exercise bicycle
One of the center’s new recumbent exercise bicycles

The weight room features free weights and 10 machines that can be used for multiple exercises. These include an FTS glide-functional training machine, a pulldown/row machine, pec fly/dec, leg curl/extension, a leg press, a bicep/tricep machine, an inner/outer thigh machine, a shoulder press, and a chest press.

The locker rooms were also completely rebuilt, with lockers constructed of heavy plastic instead of metal, and showers and stalls equipped with doors with airplane bathroom-style locks. Lockers are available to rent for all members of the Fordham community for $50 per semester, or $75 for the year. Those interested should contact the office of residential life at Lincoln Center at (212) 636-7100 or [email protected].

Two new studio rooms were also created, increasing the footprint of the center from 3,700 to 6,400 square feet. Those spaces were outfitted with specially designed floors and equipment that will appeal to those interested in barre, movement, yoga, and Pilates.

New Activities in New Spaces

Jenifer Campbell, Ed.D., dean of students at Lincoln Center, said that the spaces will allow for both an expansion of current programming, such as Ignatian yoga sponsored by the Department of Mission and Ministry, and new offerings that will be announced in the coming weeks.

“It gives students an opportunity to work out some of the frustrations and stress that they may have related to class and everyday life situations,” she said.

“It helps promote some of those healthier activities that they ought to be engaged in, and it’s convenient because they don’t have to go outside of the University to have that opportunity to exercise,” she said.

Closeup of the Glute Coaster machine
The “Glute Coaster,” one of several machines dedicated to core workouts

The University was able to expand into the space because Health Services and the COVID testing center, which previously occupied the area, were relocated to 140 W. 62 Street and the Lowenstein South Lounge, respectively. It opened to the University community on Jan. 17.

After soliciting feedback from students last year, Campbell turned to Joseph Scaltro, director of engineering services at Lincoln Center, and Sarah Bickford, administrator of fitness and recreation, to design the new center. Bickford helped design the Ram Fit Center that opened in the Joseph M. McShane, S.J., campus center last spring, so she had a good idea of how a similar facility at Lincoln Center should look.

Bickford said her goal was to make the space as intuitive and welcoming as possible. Some of that is accomplished by replacing bulky equipment with smaller, sleeker models with ample signage and QR codes that direct users to instructional videos.

A view of the mens locker room
The men’s locker room

It’s also achieved by thoughtful consideration of layout and design touches like window screens that, when installed, will both shield exercisers from the sun glare and keep the facility from feeling like a fishbowl, with everyone on display.

“There are lots of things that come into play when you’re laying things out. It’s not about just putting machines down,” Bickford said.

“There are lots of other things, like the flooring and the lighting. What can people see? What are the privacy issues?”

Working to design the fitness center at Rose Hill made her realize that for students, the COVID pandemic had spurred them to rethink the purpose of a gym. It’s no longer just the place to bulk up and get fit.

“There are so many reasons why people come to the gym, and a big piece of that is mental health. That doesn’t mean you have to come for hours at a time—you could come in and just do a 20-minute workout. So, the less intimidating it is and the easier it is to come in, the better,” she said.

The center will be open from 7 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. Monday through Friday and 9 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. on the weekends. It will be closed for cleaning and restocking daily from 11 a.m. to 12 p.m. and from 5 p.m. to 6 p.m.

Treadmills feature both screens for watching programs and spaces for personal phones and tablets.

Patrick Verel is a news producer for Fordham Now. He can be reached at [email protected] or (212) 636-7790.