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Students declare Wooden Center unfit

By Daily Bruin Staff

July 21, 2002 9:00 p.m.

By Elizabeth Newman
[email protected]

  ANGIE LEVINE/Daily Bruin Staff The Wooden Center offers
three weightlifting classes a week to small groups like the one

UCLA, an institution that prides itself as a leader, has some
catching up to do.

In September, UCLA will finally start upgrading the Wooden
Center with construction starting on a 7,000-square foot addition.
Right now, however, student dissatisfaction with the facility is

According to Dan Wax, manager of the Wooden Center, UCLA’s
facility houses 50 to 60 cardio machines, and more than 100 weights
(a combination of selectorized and free weights). Many students,
here for the summer from other University of California campuses,
feel that the Wooden Center equipment lacks in quality and quantity
as compared to the facilities they use during the academic

Kate Wilton, an outside hitter for UC Davis’ volleyball
team and a Los Angeles native, chose to work out at UCLA because of
the $20 summer membership offered to students from any UC campus
not enrolled in summer sessions, a hard price seemingly hard to

“This gym is so confusing,” she said. “The one
entrance and exit to the weight room makes it difficult. At Davis,
the weights are spread out over two floors.

“Plus, I feel like I’m going to run into people when
I work out it’s so crowded,” she added.

Other students agree.

Max Amini, a third-year transfer student from UC Irvine, says
his school’s two-year-old Anteater Recreation Center looks
“like it was made for the Army.”

“(At Wooden), there’s not enough equipment, and the
weight room’s small as hell,” Amini said. “You
have to have a special eye for free weights because none of them
have (lb) numbers on them.”

The Anteater Recreation Center, which opened in January of 2000,
was a $25.6 million project funded by a student referendum, the
same means by which the Wooden Center was constructed.

The construction of the Irvine health club was spearheaded by
current UCLA Athletic Director Dan Guerrero while he was UC
Irvine’s athletic director.

“This is one of the most important facilities on any
college campus,” commented Jill Schindele, director of the
Anteater Recreation Center. “We didn’t have a fitness
center before this.”

Irvine’s Rec Center is outfitted with a total of 15
Woodway treadmills, 15 Precor elliptical machines, 5 Precor cross
trainers, 24 stationary bikes and 11 Stairmasters. The
facility also boasts an elevated track, and Cybex and
Hammerstrength weight machines. The cardio equipment is spread out
within the facility to foster a more spacious workout environment,
according to UCI fitness director Cindy Cook.

“We could never have enough treadmills or elliptical
machines,” Cook said. “We bought more ellipticals
because they’re highly used but half the price and take up
half the space (as treadmills).”

The student referendum passed at Irvine to fund this facility
now includes an annual student fee of $264. UCLA students are
assessed $36 per academic year.

  ANGIE LEVINE/Daily Bruin Staff Students wait in line to
use the treadmills at the Wooden Center during busy hours.

The Student Programs, Activities and Resource Complex referendum
recently passed at UCLA will raise annual student fees to $84 per
year to fund Wooden’s expansion. Wooden West, as the addition
will be named, is the second structural change the Wooden Center
has seen since its construction. The North expansion opened in
July 2001 and was built to house facilities from the Men’s
Gym, which was closed for seismic renovations after the 1994
Northridge earthquake.

“Our plans include adding an additional 20 to 30
treadmills, 20 to 40 bikes, 20 stairclimbers and 10 to 20
elliptical machines,” said Wax on the approaching extension.
“The weight room will be outfitted with brand new equipment
as well. Right now we just don’t have space for new

Wax said the addition will be a “major step in alleviating
Wooden’s shortcomings.

“Twenty years ago, when this was built, cardio was not an
interest,” Wax added. “Originally, Wooden had just four
stationary bikes in the back of the weight room.”

Mick Deluca, director of UCLA Recreation, said the Wooden Center
“set the precedent for the whole (UC) system” as the
first student-referendum funded building constructed on a UC

“If we were to design this building today, we’d do
it completely differently,” Deluca said. “20,000 square
feet would be optimum, but to be tripling our space with this
expansion will have a significant effect on the facility, in
addition to the tripling or quadrupling of pieces of

“Many schools our size have two or three John Wooden
Centers,” he continues. “For the immediate time, this
is a great improvement.”

Many students feel this change is overdue. 

“Santa Monica College’s gym is smaller, but it has
newer equipment,” said Mike Rezai, a second-year transfer
from SMC. “This place just looks torn down.”

Mike Hakim, a Los Angeles native who attends UC Berkeley, also
takes advantage of Wooden’s $20 summer membership.

“There are more free weights at Cal, and more (weight)
machines,” Hakim said. “Here, you have to wait for
people to finish sets, and many times specific dumbbell weights are
always taken. I avoid Wooden at all costs from 3 to 7 p.m., it just
gets so hectic.”

The Recreational Sports Facility at Berkeley boasts 8,500 square
feet of weight room space and over 80 cardiovascular machines,
according to Cal’s recreation Web site.

Anand Upadhye, a fourth-year student at Cal, warns the

“We (RSF) have a lot of lame cardio equipment that 24 Hour
Fitness would donate before putting out on their floor,” he
said. “We really have about 50 machines that are in

Mike Weinberger, director of Recreation and Sports at Cal, says
space is a crucial commodity in their facility.

“We could always use more space,” said Weinberger.
“We experience lines for the weight room and cardio machines
from 4 p.m. onwards on a daily basis.”

Weinberger and Deluca both stress the impact of changing
recreation trends on the layout of their respective campus

  CHRIS MONTALVO/Daily Bruin Senior Staff

“The atrium where we now house all our cardio equipment
was originally a walk-through,” said Weinberger. “In
addition, when these buildings opened, women just didn’t work
out at the gym. Now our population is more than fifty percent
female, and the building just wasn’t designed for that
population in mind.”

One example of these changing trends is UCLA’s rock wall,
converted from a racquetball court. 

“We took this space that was serving two people at a time
and converted it into a space that could serve many more,”
said Wax. “Combined with the increasing interest in rock
climbing and a decreased interest in racquetball, this serves the
school population better.”

With attendance numbers reaching 3,000 daily during the school
year and ranging from 700,000 to one million annually, serving the
masses is crucial for Wooden Center management.

“This is part of the fiber of this campus,” said
Deluca. “Our campus is becoming increasingly residential, and
very dense at that. It’s very demanding to have one facility
to meet the needs of everyone, and we’re working to create
several commitments to leisure and recreation around

These “several commitments” include Fit Center
South, a small gym near parking lot 32, and possibly expanding
Sunset Canyon Recreation Center. This strategy, according to
Weinberger, has been employed on Cal’s campus with great

“We invested in our Strawberry Canyon Fit Center, similar
to Sunset Rec, about one year ago to create an alternative and add
capacity. From our population counts, it’s becoming quite

The increasing operational costs at Berkeley, however, come at a
price, and students who use the facility must pay a $25 membership
per semester.

“UCLA was the first campus to build a rec facility,”
Weinberger pointed out. “It’s a blessing because
you’ve had it the longest, but now you’re facing the
biggest challenge in keeping it up to date.”

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