Kendall Fitness Center Opens for Business

Posted: September 1, 2009

At 2 pm on Friday, September 25, in the Kendall Sports and Dance Complex, Rebecca Wener ’10 climbed aboard a mammoth elliptical machine called the Summit Trainer, plugged in her headphones, flipped channels on the machine’s individual television monitor, and got to work. She was the first member of the Mount Holyoke community officially to use Kendall’s brand-new fitness center.

Earlier in the day, students, faculty, staff, and alumnae came to tour the fitness center and to peek in at the tango and ballet classes in the new dance studios, which opened last spring. On the mezzanine level, above the fitness machines and free weights, is a space for spinning classes (group workouts on exercise bicycles) and stretching. Visitors received free water bottles, towels, and other prizes throughout the day.

Amanda Koller ’10, who works at the Kendall reception desk, was on hand for the morning’s festivities. “It’s really exciting. I’ve been working here all summer, so I’ve seen the whole process take shape. Every day people come in and ask me, ‘When is it opening?’ It’s such a huge change from what we had before.”

Not only the fitness center is new; Kendall’s central hallway has been totally transformed. Gone is the dark corridor flanked with offices on one side and with display cases of vintage sporting costumes, photographs, and equipment on the other. Now the offices open onto a light-filled hallway lined with floor-to-ceiling windows that look into the fitness area.

Hillela Simpson’10, a member of the varsity squash team, explained that she has chronic tendinitis and runs regularly on a treadmill. “It’s so great that we have these machines in this communal, airy, open space.”

Alice Kennedy ’75, who uses Kendall’s facilities regularly, was impressed by the new fitness room, which houses 35 new cardiovascular machines, ten weight training circuit machines, and a variety of free weights and barbells. “There are so many machines I think the whole freshman class could work out at the same time!” she said.

The community is particularly excited about the selection of drop-in classes that will be offered, including spinning, Pilates, yoga, and Zumba. Jesse Lytle, assistant to the president, said his wife “is thrilled at the idea of a 7 am Pilates class she can just show up for without committing in advance. That fits our lives perfectly.”

Varsity field hockey players Mary Kate Switchenko ’10 and Megan Wefald ’10 checked out the class schedule with great enthusiasm. “I want to do a spinning class tomorrow,” Switchenko said. “You can’t. We have a game tomorrow,” Wefald reminded her. “Well, definitely after our season. This place makes me want to work out more,” Switchenko added.

Ellen Perrella, head athletic trainer, demonstrated one of the new exercise bicycles. She explained that the fitness machines are programmed to keep track of an individual’s workouts over time by means of a USB cable. “Someone can monitor her progress over time, the hours and distance she’s logged, and the calories burned,” she said. “We are the industry standard in terms of equipment. We should be really proud.”

Athletics Director Laurie Priest, who spent the day at the center guiding tours and answering questions, is thrilled with the new center. "The fitness center and our new programming is designed to support the health and fitness needs of our students, staff, and faculty,” she said. “The Kendall Sports and Dance Complex supports our rigorous academic curriculum by providing a place for our students to ‘blow off steam,’ reduce stress, and maintain high levels of health and fitness. It has already become a gathering place on campus for students to socialize and stay in shape at the same time."

Over the next few months, Kendall staff will post feedback boxes and monitor usage and attendance at the drop-in classes. “We’re living in the space now,” said Bardee Sadlier, assistant athletics director. “There will be changes depending on demand. We’re definitely open to suggestions.”

The Kendall Sports and Dance Complex renovations are one of the priorities of the Campaign for Mount Holyoke.

Related Links:

Photo Gallery

Athletics at MHC

Kendall Sports and Dance Complex

The Campaign for Mount Holyoke: Updated Athletic Facilities