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McNiff Fitness Center Needs Drastic Expansion

There it sits across from the track, a tan, inconspicuous looking old building that doesn’t garner a second look from unknowing passersby. With just one story, it is one of the most unimpressive looking buildings remaining on the University of Tampa’s campus. The grounds of the basketball and sand volleyball courts next to it dwarf it in square footage. I speak, of course, the McNiff Fitness Center.

For many of the 5,000 plus students that live on campus at the university, McNiff is the only source of weight training and cardio machines available to them. You probably wouldn’t have to talk to many to discover the overwhelming consensus and truth about the fitness center: it is long overdue for an upgrade.

Limited amounts of old equipment, cramped space, and overcrowding plague the building throughout the year. Many people complain of interrupted workouts and will often look for alternatives. “None of the machines are ever open,” says senior ROTC student Tyler Botset, “It’s much more convenient to make the 20 minute drive to MacDill Air Force Base.”  Unfortunately this isn’t an option for the average student as a military Identification card is required to gain entrance to the installation. Similarly, Botset added, “luckily, ROTC Cadets are also very fortunate to have their own small, but secluded and well stocked gym that we are able to use.”

Other students turn to different avenues by signing up to participate in studies at the Human Performance Center. “I do not use the McNiff Fitness Center,” said Kevin Shields, a UT graduate assistant who works at the state-of-the-art lab to study human performance, exercise metabolism, and cardiovascular and muscle physiology. “The only time I am in there is when I am recruiting kids to do the study, and I always get a handful of students who complain about the size of McNiff.”

Along with free servings of protein, these students receive access to a significantly less crowded gym. “When I heard about the study, I immediately signed up,” said senior finance major Dalton Sears, a participant in one study, “They put you through grueling workout regimens and there are never more than a few people in the gym at a time.”

The university makes it a point to celebrate its state of the art athletic gyms, for athletes, but leaves the rest of the student population battling for a set on the bench press.

This is truly unacceptable and an absolute disservice to the student body.  A healthy body correlates directly into having a better functioning brain. The argument can easily be made that a physically in-shape student body would be better suited for academic success, something the university seems to be adamant about ignoring.

With multi-million dollar high rise dorms popping up all around campus, why can’t money be raised to reate a facility that can sufficiently keep all of our students in shape? We have our housing and, soon, our parking. It’s high time for the school to invest in bringing our gym into the twenty-first century.


Ryan Clabaugh can be reached at


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