For most students, Dillon Gym serves as Princeton’s primary hub for fitness and wellness. Dillon is free for all undergraduate and graduate students to use and closer to the heart of campus than Jadwin Gym, which remains largely exclusive to varsity athletes. As many gym-goers notice, at peak hours, students are forced to wait to use weight stations, strength machines, and cardio equipment.
In light of the expanding student body, as well as ongoing campus dialogue about health and wellness, the Daily Princetonian analyzed data provided by Campus Recreation and spoke to students about their experiences at Dillon.
The ‘Prince’ graphed the number of students scanning their TigerCards to access Dillon at each half hour of any given early fall semester day. Each data point in the graph represents the average number of scans during that specific interval. Although the ‘Prince’ also requested separate weekend and weekday data, Associate Director of Campus Rec Daniel A. Bennett assured us that “the usage graph would be fairly consistent” across the entire week.
Dillon Gym is open from 6 a.m. to 12 a.m. Monday through Thursday and closes at 10 p.m. on Fridays. On the weekends, it opens at 8 a.m. and closes at 10 p.m. on Saturday and 12 a.m. on Sunday.
In the Fall 2022 semester, Dillon Gym had on average 1275 visitors each day. During weekdays, the busiest time of the day was 5:00 PM. Many students opt to work out early in the morning, with early activity spiking at 8:30 AM. Afterwards, once classes start for the day, the gym’s foot traffic declines, with very few visitors from 10 AM to 2 PM. After classes conclude around 4:30 PM, traffic peaks to 90 scans per half hour, making it the busiest time of day. Scans gradually decrease throughout the evening, but never to the same lows that can be seen during the morning’s “dead hours.”
The chart above represents the rate of students entering Dillon but does not account for the number of students actually on the gym floor during each time interval. Therefore, the most noticeable crowded hours may be offset by an additional few minutes from the peaks in this graph. Further, the data also includes non-Stephen Fitness Center users such as students playing pickup basketball, attending club meetings, and taking cycling classes.
“I would say [it gets] pretty crowded,” Desiree Rivers ‘26 told the ‘Prince’ before entering the Stephens Fitness Center, which sees the most use among students, “I would kind of like more space to do more open [exercises].”
Indeed, in the face of a larger student body, crowding in Dillion has become a more frequent complaint the University has noted. Construction to expand the gym to add new entrances and more space for cardio workouts is currently underway.
Some students have also begun to catch onto the gym’s busy and dead hours. “I usually come to the gym in between my lunch period, at noon-ish,” Jonathan Roa ’26 told the ‘Prince’ during a 12:30 PM workout at Stephens. “Sometimes I’ll come in the morning, but recently, I’ve been coming in the afternoon and that’s actually when I’ll see the most people.” Jonathan specifically mentioned 6:00 PM as being the time he feels Dillion is the most crowded. Around that time, there are about 55 swipes to the gym, as shown in the graph.
Others have started going to Dillon later at night. Yoel Yacob ‘25 visits Dillon daily from 10 pm–12 am, which is when it closes. “It’s usually fine later in the week, but Monday and Tuesday nights are quite busy.”
Students have identified that weights and strength equipment have higher wait times than cardio equipment. “I’d say the downstairs [weight training] area is pretty busy,” says Yoel, “especially with the compound lifts like bench and squat stations.”
Katherine Khramtsov ‘26, a member of the Women’s Hockey team, has used both Dillon and Jadwin gyms. “When machines are open [in Jadwin], you can get your workout done quicker. In Dillon, it’s much harder. There’s limited machines, especially with the weight room.” Katherine says she usually goes during midday after visiting Dillon once at 4 PM and consequently "only did cardio because all the [weight] machines were closed.”
Many gym-goers suspect the beginning of the semester to be the busiest time for Dillion. “It’s the most crowded at the beginning of the year, you know, New Year’s resolutions and stuff like that,” says Jonathan. Yoel agrees, saying “the downstairs area was especially packed after New Years.” “I know at the beginning of the semester, it’s really hard to find a treadmill,” Desiree also points out.
Visitors were also asked how they felt about the ongoing expansion to Dillon Gym and ways they felt Campus Rec could alleviate crowding. Yoel looks forward to the expansion but laments that the project, slated to be completed in Winter 2025, would not finish in time for the Class of 2025.
“Just leave somebody at the front door,” says Jonathan. “Open this gym up for 24 hours and then allow people to come in at whatever time they can.” Jonathan also noted that a 24-hour Dillon would allow people to get assignments done during the day and end their night off with a workout.
Yacoub Kahkajian is a contributing writer for the Data section of the ‘Prince.’
Daniel Wang is a contributing writer for the Data section of the ‘Prince.’
Please direct any corrections requests to corrections[at]dailyprincetonian.com.