Lowry Center staff have flexed their creative muscles with a range of recent renovations to the Patterson Fitness Center. As Kenyon’s exercise aficionados may have noticed, the center has implemented a host of changes in the past three months — including a modified sanitization system, restorations to highly trafficked machines and new specialized equipment.
The Patterson Fitness Center — which boasts nearly four dozen cardio machines, two racks of dumbbells and 55 weight plates — is a daily refuge for scores of students seeking to strength train or develop their cardiovascular endurance. Because the center is a single room tasked with serving all members of the Kenyon athletic community, Director of Strength and Conditioning and Lowry Center Assistant Director Mike Navratil regularly evaluates its strengths and weaknesses in order to effectively allocate the annual equipment and repair budget.
Aided in part by student suggestions, Navratil recently purchased new equipment, including a SkiErg machine that simulates the muscle engagement of cross-country skiing, a belt squat machine that allows users to bear weight on their hips instead of their backs and a variety of new barbells and exercise bands. According to Navratil, the primary focus of these acquisitions is striking a balance between equipment used in team training and that used by the general population. “We’re making sure student athletes are getting what they need, but also for the general population students to have a good experience,” he said.
Gym-goers may have also noticed new sanitization stations — small desks equipped with bleach bottles and towels that are strategically scattered throughout the weight section. These stations, which replaced the individual towels and bottles that were implemented during the COVID-19 pandemic, are modeled after the structure of machine sanitization at commercial gyms. “Honestly, it just became a little cluttered. So we just kind of wanted to get a little more organized with it. Kind of like what you see at a normal commercial gym, where you use the nearest bottle to your equipment,” Navratil said.
Beyond the more visually prominent changes, Navratil also allocated funds to the maintenance and restoration of heavily used machines. For example, in this round of repairs, all treadmills received fresh padding and other mechanical modifications as needed. At the end of the year, Navratil intends to enlist a technician to service all larger machines, in addition to investing more funds in specific small items that are lacking in supply or are damaged, such as medicine balls.
Ultimately, for a small area tasked with servicing the entirety of the Kenyon community, Navratil is confident that the Fitness Center carries an excellent range of available equipment. Moving forward, his primary goals don’t involve the acquisition of new machinery, but rather the repair and maintenance of current machines, as well as the creation of an atmosphere of accessibility within the center. “As a facility, we have everything we need. The next big step is organizing it in a way that it’s just accessible to everybody at all times of the day, so people still feel safe and comfortable to come in and get what they need,” he said.