Due to financial constraints, Brodie and Wilson Recreation Centers have adjusted their hours.
Gym rats can no longer stretch their workout until midnight, as the two gyms are closing their doors at 11 p.m. Wilson Gym has made up for the loss in the morning, however, by opening half an hour earlier at 5:30 a.m. The weekend hours—9 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Saturdays and 9 a.m. to 11 p.m. on Sundays—remain the same. The hours were adjusted to make up for expenses due to recent renovations and updates, said Michael Howard, managing director of recreation facilities.
“The facilities themselves need a lot of financial attention,” Howard said. “The overall [objective] is to save some dollars and invest them into the facilities.”
Some examples of non-recurring expenses this year include buying all-new equipment for the Brodie weight room, resurfacing the Wilson basketball courts, waterproofing Wilson, repainting and redesigning spaces, renovating Card Gym, transitioning to a new information management software system, purchasing a new television and increasing seating space, Howard said.
He noted that Duke Recreation and Physical Education is trying its best to keep membership costs down while still funding necessary renovations.
“I personally don’t feel that now’s the time to raise fees by 100 dollars to paint a wall,” Howard said.
He noted that many of the upgrades are not that visible to users but necessary to the upkeep of the buildings.
Although he declined to provide specific figures of how much the hour changes will save and how much upgrades will cost, Howard emphasized that increased costs, not budget cuts, were the driving force behind the changes.
Howard added that the hours were also made earlier to make the job safer and more attractive for employees. Having employees work past midnight to close the facility did not make sense, he added.
“If you’re closing, you’re getting out of here at 12:30 [a.m.] and if you’re opening the next morning, you have to be here at 5-something,” said Tyra Johnson, a third-year graduate student at the Divinity School who works at the front desk of Wilson’s weight room. “That’s not enough time... to get re-energized.”
Some students, however, said they are annoyed by the earlier closing time.
“It’s the worst,” senior Katya Kabotyanski said. “I hate it. I’ve always been one to work out late and study during the day and get in exercise before I go to sleep, so that extra hour was useful.”
Instead of exercising from 10:30 p.m. to midnight, Kabotyanski now tries to attend the daytime gym classes at Wilson or goes to the Central Campus gym, which is open 24 hours.
Patrick Nailer, a third-year anesthesiology resident, said that he goes to Brodie right after work, so the hour changes have not affected him. He noted that there is merit in having an earlier opening time like the one implemented at Wilson.
“It’d be better if they opened up earlier in the morning at six or even five before work, but I’m sure for undergrads late hours would probably be better for them,” he said.
Howard noted that the earlier opening at Wilson has received positive feedback from faculty and staff.
Johnson, who started working at Wilson last Spring, said she has not noticed significant changes in student behavior.
“People still stay until the last minute getting that last bench press or squat in,” she said.
Pam Gibson, a recreation aide at Brodie, said that though a number of people—including a large number of freshmen—have asked about the hours, she has heard no complaints.
“The regulars pretty much know and keep up with it,” Gibson said.
Despite the ongoing renovations, there may still be more changes to come. Among these possible changes are initiatives to add a patio area and a Quenchers at Brodie, Howard said. He expects that as more improvements are made to Brodie, the numbers will shift and some current Wilson patrons will begin going to the East Campus center.
Howard noted that the changes are ultimately intended to help the recreation centers become more centered on relaxation, rather than just exercise.
“I just think that a recreation center is a destination place, not just a place that you work out,” Howard said.