On any given tour of Yale, a prospective student is certain to see both the unique attributes of the Yale residential college system and the extensive physical fitness facilities offered at Payne Whitney Gymnasium. The residential college gyms are not usual stops on these tours. However, for many enrolled students they are a familiar, if not frequent, destination.
Gyms vary from college to college, but they all offer basic weights and cardiovascular-oriented equipment that can cater to a variety of users. While the college gyms may not be the same caliber as Payne Whitney, they are convenient alternatives, and many times they can prevent a long walk or a trip out in the cold New Haven winter. Some colleges, such as Ezra Stiles, provide the bare minimum in terms of equipment. In the Stiles gym, there is a treadmill, stationary bike, free weights and a universal gym machine that looks like it came from Sylvester Stallone’s “Rocky.”
“I never use the weight room,” Stilesian Beth Ramenofsky ’06 said. “For most people it’s a longer walk to the Stiles gym than to Payne Whitney, and Payne Whitney has a greater variety of equipment.”
The close proximity to the main gym might explain Ezra Stiles’ modest facilities and why it seems to be less frequently used than those of colleges farther away.
For the residents of Timothy Dwight, it is a different story.
“[The TD gym] is a lot more convenient than walking all the way to Payne Whitney, especially when it gets colder,” Shannon Farrell ’07 said. “I feel like overall there are a good number of machines and weights, and they have a pretty nice TV/DVD player and a really nice stereo system, so that definitely adds to it.”
The Silliman gym has the most diverse offerings. On top of numerous cardiovascular machines, free weights and weight machines, the gym has a basketball court, squash court and the university’s only climbing wall.
Lack of space, which greatly limits the resources of a gym, is a recurring problem for many colleges. But cramped quarters do not stop Yalies who are committed to physical fitness from working out. Terren O’Reilly ’06 of Calhoun is one such Eli.
“We call it ‘the hallway’ rather than the gym,” she said of Calhoun’s gym, which is located along the corridor heading towards the squash court. “Even though it is really small, it’s still more convenient since you can go there at any time, and you don’t have to walk to Payne Whitney which closes at night.”
Many Yalies said while there may still be much to be desired — more space, better ventilation or more equipment to prevent lines during peak hours — the residential college gym provides an added, though under-appreciated, outlet to the Yale student who is looking to stay physically fit.
Despite this, there still seems to be a group of dedicated college-gym rats.
“They are the same ones who use it over and over,” Erica Bergman ’06 said.