The future of Laurier’s Athletic Complex

Any student who’s worked out at Laurier’s Athletic Complex has likely also complained about over-crowding. With the fitness centre’s chronic over-crowding in mind, the WLU department of athletics and recreation has released plans for an expansion that will provide much needed space to the facility.

“When we’re coming close to 15,000 [students], we just don’t have the space in our fitness centre to accommodate the people who are coming through,” said Laurier’s director of athletics and recreation Peter Baxter.

“The expanded fitness centre will address the capacity problems that we have and a big part of the project, which will have a significant amount of money invested in it will be for new equipment.”

As the population of Laurier’s student body has exploded in recent years, the Athletic Complex has struggled to accommodate for that growth. According to Baxter, the Athletic Complex sees 13,000 visitors per week, a 22 per cent increase over the 2009-10 school year.

When it comes to the fitness centre in particular, the facility sees over 200 users during a given hour and over 8,000 to 10,000 users per week. This marks a 12 per cent increase over 2009-10. Add in the over 1,600 yearly participants in group fitness and dance programs and it’s easy to see where the over-crowding comes from.

“In terms of space, we’ve maxed out, there’s no more room for expansion,” said Baxter. “Because we have such little space, not only is the gym really crowded, but a lot of the student clubs and even intercollegiate programs who want things like yoga as part of their program can’t get the time they want.”

The expanded Athletic Complex will feature extensions to the fitness centre floor, bringing it right out to University Ave. and closer to Conrad Hall as well as a second floor, which will have a section looking out over the ground level. This will not only create more room in the fitness centre itself, but also add more multi-purpose studios which can be used for things such as dance, yoga or personal training.

“Personal training numbers have doubled in just the last year and we’d like to do things like women-only programming but at this point we just don’t have the space,” said Baxter.

“With the expansion we’ll have the capabilities to do more specialized programming like that.”

The plans for this project came about as part of Laurier’s master plan, which was released last year and illustrates an infrastructure that will be implemented over the next 15-20 years to enable the WLU campus to deal with its growing population.

As a result, there is no set timetable for the Athletic Complex project in particular. Costs and financing for the project have also yet to be determined: however, Baxter estimates the expansion to end up costing between $5.2 and $5.5 million