The $15.5 million-renovation boasts new cardiovascular machines, weight equipment, group fitness rooms, saunas, locker rooms and a fireplace lounge, as well as a resurfaced track and pool and two re-opened tennis courts.
An open design, with lots of natural light, creates a comfortable, inviting space in which to work out, said Steve Erickson, director of Recreational Sports and Fitness.
"There's no question that the money put into aesthetics at the gym pays huge dividends in the recruitment and retention of students and faculty," Erickson said.
At 14,000 square feet, plus new group fitness rooms, the center is now approximately three times the size of the old complex.
The additional space will allow not only for more individual equipment and a less crowded atmosphere, but also for more group fitness classes. Thirty-three classes will be offered each week, which is approximately 15 more than were offered last semester.
"We'll also be able to offer popular classes, like yoga and step, at the same time," said Kelly Crosby, director of group fitness classes and marketing specialist.
And, for the first time, spinning classes will be offered, as will the relatively new hydro-fitness classes. Students may attend the first week of classes for free, but beginning Jan. 28, students will need to purchase a $25 group fitness card for unlimited access to classes.
So far, the center has been incredibly well received, Erickson said.
A little-publicized, word-of-mouth opening last Friday was so busy that administrators decided to keep the facility open over the weekend, Erickson said, rather than having it closed as planned.
Meanwhile, students, faculty and staff lined up to purchase memberships and ask questions about the new facility.
The new center dates back to the spring of 2005, when MSU students voted to approve a $65-per-year fee for renovation of the facility, as well as renovations to the SUB and the Black Box Theatre. Nearly 100 percent of the funding for the recreation and fitness center renovation came from student fees, Erickson estimated.
Faculty and staff annual memberships to the center also are available, with the option of a monthly payroll deduction of $23, and January is free to those who join now. Passes for alumni, retirees, and university-related people also are available, as are lockers with towel service.
For now, hours to the renovated facility -- including the pool -- will be the same as they had been at the former facility, though administrators hope to expand hours and class offerings after gauging use and demand.
"We think (the center) is going to be really popular," Erickson said. "As it balloons up, the sky is the limit."
With new equipment still arriving and being installed, the facility will continue to change in the coming weeks, Erickson said, but he hopes the center will be fully operational by the end of the month. An exception is the climbing wall, still located in Romney Gym, which will be moved to the first racquetball court in the renovated center sometime within a year.
Meanwhile, students and members of the MSU community are relishing the newly renovated space.
"It's 100 times better than before," said Lori Jo Neubauer, a senior in exercise science from Wolf Point.
"There is more room, and it's clean," said Neubauer, who is looking forward to using new machines in the cardio theater and the swimming pool. "It's just better all the way around."
For more information about the Marga Hosaeus Recreation and Fitness Center, including hours, schedules, descriptions and fees, contact the Recreational Sports and Fitness Office at 994-5000 or visit http://www.montana.edu/getfit.
Kelly Crosby, (406) 994-5000 or email@example.com