Work is well underway in Trinity’s Sports Centre as it begins its largest refurbishment to date. The building works, expected to take the majority of the summer, will see an expansion of the gym area, increasing the size of the free weights section by 33 per cent and making room for a new functional rig, designated training zones and new equipment.
This expansion to the main gym, as well as a new reception area and a new personal training room, are expected to come at the end of August. In an email to The University Times, Helen Hanley, Press Officer for Trinity Sport described the works as “a key strategic project to enable Trinity Sport to increase capacity and to cater for the demands for an ever-knowledgeable and demanding customer group”.
These changes come as the membership of Trinity’s Sports Centre continues to grow. Last year, 368,000 visitors passed through the reception gates, a seven per cent increase on the previous year. Of these visitors, 70 per cent were students, showing how more and more student members are using the centre every day. Hence, with the centre celebrating its 10th birthday this year, these are very welcome improvements.
With work underway, clear changes are visible in the reception area and main gym. Walking into the sports centre, a separate entrance has been created for the contractors which leads away into the mostly blocked off reception area. The new stud walls appear to outline where the new gym wall will go, meaning that the main gym will be expanded the full width of the old entrance hall. The reception has moved in front of the window looking down into the pool, and students are now required to scan their cards at reception.
Behind the entrance’s stud walls, a huge amount of work has already been done. The old walls have been removed and the admissions office and toilets are now gone. This has left open a large space to be added to the gym, which will add much needed square footage.
In the main gym itself, there also have been changes. The mirrored stretching area and the free weights section have been blocked off for the redevelopment and their equipment has been moved further into the gym. This means that the space has become a little more cramped than usual. However, as students leave for the summer – or enjoy the good weather on the cricket pitch – the gym is becoming less busy and hence the space reduction appears to be less of an issue. A more pressing problem had been the lack of air conditioning in the gym and the centre. This appears to be fixed for now, although due to plans to upgrade the air conditioning, this may become an issue again later in the summer. Also in the main gym, there are plans to replace the flooring, which could also impact gym goers.
This may lead to greater disruption, although Trinity Sport have stated that they aim to keep any downtime to a minimum. To help reduce disruption, the Functional Training Zone and Wellness Studio have been made available for members outside of class times. There members can escape the noise of the main gym, now coming only from the construction work and no longer the speakers, which have stopped playing their usual motivational music. However, as the Trinity Sport website puts it, this is “short-term pain for long-term gain”.
In contrast to the work on the main gym and reception, on the first floor the plans are less clear. There the aim is to create a new personal training room, for both private sessions and classes. Work there has also started, with the staff room temporarily moved to a second-floor boardroom and the club lockers relocated. However, no official updates for the room have been published on the Trinity Sport website. Staff Member Sarah Watson, speaking to The University Times, was excited by the developments and understood that the new gym floor would take the form of an “L shape”. The room will hopefully allow the centre to expand their range of classes and courses, which continue to grow in popularity with students and other centre users.
It is clear that the expansion of the main gym and the new personal training room both aim to improve student experiences in the Centre. Much of the funding for this project comes as a result of the increase in the student-paid sports centre charge. In April 2015, 88 per cent of voting students chose to increase the price of student membership to protect students from possible extra charges during peak times. This increase to €120 was far from the original compulsory student charge of €70 that was voted in by the student body in 2007. This €70 was only to be increased with inflation, yet by 2015 it had reached €90, up €13 from the previous year.
As students now pay €120 a year, whether they step foot in the gym or not, they are expecting more for their money. Improvements have been seen, such as the introduction of the High Performance Gym and the Cycling Studio, at the start of this academic year. However, this expansion is the biggest on-campus change to sports facilities since the referendum, and hence its presumed success will help to prove the need to keep the student charge as high as it is.
Certainly if the plans are anything to go on, it appears that the redevelopment will greatly improve gym users’ experiences. If the schedule stays on track, hopefully September will not just bring new students, but new centre classes, new gym equipment and new space in the previously cramped gym. Hopefully the refurbishment will be something to look forward to when the days of summer suddenly end.