The Ray Meyer Fitness and Recreation Center, commonly known as “The Ray,” celebrated its 20th birthday in September. Opened in 1999, the Ray was created to be a place not only for students, but also for the surrounding community, faculty and staff. For the past 20 years, the Ray has continued with this idea and even expanded upon it this summer.
In an effort to make the fitness center more welcoming and inclusive, the staff in charge of “birthday face-lifts” have put a few new tactics to work. Scott Vandermoon, associate director of facilities, oversaw the design and implementation of graphics across the building.
“This building, and gyms in general, can be intimidating for some people,” he says. “One of the most important graphic themes we put in around the building is ‘You Belong Here.’”
Through the use of wall-decals and graphics across the building, Vandermoon hopes those who are wary of the fitness center will feel comfortable and at ease. He also hopes the graphics give those who frequent the Ray a fresh feeling inside.
Green and blue paint now covers the walls on the second floor weight and cardio area, adding a breath of freshness to the once all-white walls. The dark cycle room features new lighting, wall graphics, and paint to brighten it up. Vandermoon also hopes to add an extra touch to the cycling classes through the use of a mounted TV that shows a path changing up-hill and down-hill perspectives as the bike intensity increases and decreases.
Student voices also led to updates at the Ray. Through the use of an ongoing feedback box and a satisfaction survey, staff at the Ray learned which equipment to consider updating. From four additional squat racks to a second Olympic-grade platform for deadlifting, students have helped transform The Ray.
Another addition implemented from feedback is the “Functional Fitness Trainer,” located on the facility’s second floor. The “Functional Fitness Trainer” is a multipurpose piece of exercise equipment that allows users to move pieces and weights around to create a customized total body workout. It also allows for several people to utilize the trainer at the same time, which lessens the wait time for equipment at the gym.
Danielle Arens, assistant director of fitness, worked hard to incorporate students’ wants and ensure the environment was more welcoming through the layout restructure on the second floor.
“We separated the dumbbells by weight,” Arens says. “This is more inviting to anyone interested in lifting who may be intimidated by the heavier weights. We want everyone to have a space to feel comfortable in working toward their health and fitness goals.”
Arens also has introduced introductory weight lifting classes for anyone who does not know how to use the equipment. Through continued class offerings throughout the coming year, Arens hopes to help all members of the university community feel more comfortable in using the fitness center.
To further promote the space and celebrate the Ray’s milestone birthday, staff at the center will host events throughout the year.
“We want every person who walks through our doors to know this building is for them. Everyone is welcome here. They belong here,” Vandermoon says.