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First phase of fitness center renovation unveiled, Rec Pool opening delayed

A row of weights lined up in front of a mirror
The Class of 1986 Fitness and Wellness Center opened its doors on Monday, Jan. 29.
Victoria Davies / The Daily Princetonian

After 18 months of construction, phase one of the new Class of 1986 Fitness and Wellness Center opened Monday, Jan. 29. The opening of the Recreational Pool, which was initially scheduled to reopen alongside the central fitness area, has been delayed until Friday, Feb. 16 due to “unforeseen circumstances.” Aside from the pool, the first of the three phases of renovations was completed on schedule.

The new fitness center contains 50 pieces of aerobic equipment, including 21 treadmills and four Peloton bikes, an increase from the 36 aerobic machines offered at Stephens Fitness Center, which closed on Dec. 23 for the renovations. The Peloton bikes are equipped with a commercial subscription, allowing gym goers to participate in online classes without the need for an individual Peloton account. 


Campus Recreation celebrated the opening of the fitness center on Monday with “exclusive branded workout towel[s] and refreshments,” as well as tour every hour, starting at 10 a.m. The opening, which also coincided with the first day of classes for the semester, marked “one of the highest volume usage days of the year” according to Associate Director of Campus Rec, Facilities & Operations Dan Bennett. 

Jessica Ward, senior Associate Director of Athletics for Campus Rec, told the ‘Prince’ that she is “really excited” about the new space. “We have a lot more pieces of equipment we never had before,” she said.

A new section of the gym is called the Six Minute Ab Zone. Equipment purchased from The Abs Company creates a circuit of exercises designed to provide a comprehensive and time-efficient abdominal muscle workout. The zone includes a traffic light intended to help patrons time their exercises, with a green light encouraging them to continue their exercise and a red light indicating when it’s time to switch machines. “It’s kind of like a game,” Ward told the ‘Prince,’ adding, “We wanted to try and get something completely different.”

Aside from these novel additions, the availability of more traditional strength training equipment, including dumbbells, benches, racks, bars, and plates, has nearly doubled. The plates weigh a combined total of more than 10,000 pounds.

The new fitness center now offers platforms, which enable patrons to perform a greater variety of weightlifting exercises. All exercise equipment is also now located in one 9,000 square foot space, a slight increase from the combined 8,000 square feet of space offered by the upper and lower levels of Stephens Fitness Center. 

While Phase One of the Class of 1986 Fitness and Wellness Center includes many new pieces of equipment, there are some noticeable absences. Currently, the new fitness center does not have any selectorized machines that were offered previously in Stephens Fitness Center, which included machines for upper and lower body exercises. Also missing are the cable systems used for lat pulldown and cable rowing exercises, though there are two cable pulleys that can be used for different cable exercises. 


Kate Luedtke ’27, who normally uses the gym five times per week, told the ‘Prince’ that she is most looking forward to using “more benches and better free weights” in the new fitness center, but noted that it “looks like it’s kind of low on cable machines” currently.

Despite these omissions, some students expressed that the new space marked an improvement.

Oliwia Morska ’24, who is employed by Campus Rec and works at the fitness center, told the ‘Prince’ that she is excited for “a proper workout space to accommodate everyone.”

Ward acknowledged that Campus Rec “know[s] that there are pieces that are missing right now,” but plans to remedy that issue with Phase Two of the renovations, which will include selectorized equipment and cardio machines like a self-powered treadmill. Ward explained that many of these new pieces of equipment are now possible due to the increased size of the center. 

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Phase Two, which is set to open in the fall, will also include a new accessible entrance and lobby — which is intended as a space where students can relax between class or a workout. Ward emphasized the importance of inclusivity in the space, saying that the Phase Two area won’t feel “very gym-ish.” She said that compared to Phase One, “it will have a different vibe,” explaining that Campus Rec is hoping to foster a “community center feel.”

In summer 2025, Phase Three will replace the current Stephens Fitness Center area with a space focused on functional training equipment, with “turf as a floor” and more space. Once all three phases are complete, the Class of 1986 Fitness and Wellness Center will be around 25,000 square feet.

Victoria Davies is an assistant News editor for the ‘Prince.’

Vitus Larrieu is a News contributor and head Podcast editor for the ‘Prince.’

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