‘Dangerously Overcrowded’ Lancaster University Gym


Over Covid during my first year at Lancaster university I remember joining the gym, I believed it had a fair price accompanied by the quietness and accessibility offered, but post Covid, myself and many other gym goers have felt left disappointed with the lack of equipment and inadequate space that the facility provides. SCAN put out a poll on Instagram and found that 89% of gym users thought the gym was overcrowded. Making it a struggle to use the extremely limited equipment that there is and also making an already hard decision for some to go to the gym, even more difficult. This insufficient amount of equipment is not only a deterrent for gym newbies, but is a large frustration for frequent gym goes, one student vented: ”I have been trying to get in the free weights rooms but no matter the time or day its always full” Some students have stated that the lack of equipment makes the gym an unsafe place to lift weights due to the large ques that develop as students eagerly await for certain machines and sections of the gym to become free. “Its dangerously overcrowded at points,  especially when there’s free weights”. Others finding that they can not get access to certain weights “can never get a squat rack”. While some may see an overcrowded gym as a minor issue it can have a major impact on student mental health issues. One stated “I’m really into the gym I try and go every day to recover from Eating Disorder”. With many other students struggling to achieve the desired workout due to the lack of correct equipment “I’ve not been able to train anything I want to”. Many students put forward ideas about what could be done about the issue and two emerging camps became apparent, many students suggested just buying more equipment and refurbishing another less used room in the gym to accommodate more students. Whilst others suggested making the gym open for longer hours, with some even suggesting making the gym a 24hr facility, but until there is change many students will seem to be left unsatisfied with the university gym and potentially be looking elsewhere in Lancaster centre for their needs. This is of course unfair for students, especially during the cost of living crisis, many can’t afford the current bronze gym membership, never mind a private membership at a public gym. One student recounts talking to friends from Edge Hill University in Ormskirk, where students get four weeks free at the uni gym, then only have to pay £80 for the rest of the term. This student asks ‘Where is my nine grand going? I don’t get free books, transport, or a gym membership’ Any keen gym rats out there may have heard the tannoy echoing arounf the entire gym, that only those wanting to access the sports halls and pool will be let in due to capacity being met. VP Sports Megan Homburg states: “The overcrowding of the gym at the start of January and Lent term is to be expected. Whilst it does result in the gym being busy more frequently what this actually stands for is incredible. The growth in memberships and the clear desire for exercise should be a huge celebration for Lancaster University. It means that students are prioritizing a more active lifestyle and the amazing benefits this has on mental health If students are struggling with the capacity of the gym there are many other ways to get active on campus. This term, the SU Sport Team are reviving the old Active Lancaster initiative which contains opportunities for physical activity over many levels. This initiative contains weekly Turn-Up and Play sessions as well as a new couch to 5k program. They allow students and staff of the University to partake in sport and physical activity in a social environment without heavy commitments, both time and cost wise. More details and the schedule for these activities can be found on the lancastersu website. Having spoken to the Head of Sport (Operations) Lisa Naylor I can confirm that the gym’s peak times are between 4pm and 7pm. I would encourage students to use the facilities outside of these times. The quietest times being between 7am and 11am. The SU work closely with the Sports Centre, and we are aware that the team are working on initiatives that will help make the gyms less busy, including plans to extend opening hours. Fitness Classes are now included in all memberships at no extra cost, encouraging people to try new workouts away from the gyms and into the studio spaces. And finally, the gyms are fitted with access control systems, and staff regularly ensure that capacities stay within safe levels.”
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