After roughly two years of construction, the newly renovated Belk Gym finally opens its doors to students Nov. 16.
This is a soft opening for the gym and there is still a lot of work to be done until it is completely finished, but students have shown their support in getting Belk Gym open this semester.
There were even signs blocking access to certain areas of Belk Gym for safety reasons.
However, there was still plenty of space available for students to use, including the basketball courts, fitness areas, racquetball courts and locker rooms.
“The students have been saying ‘Get it open, get it open, get it open’ and things like that, so we’re opening,” said Kemet Gatchell, assistant director for promotions and special events.
As students walk into Belk Gym, they are greeted by reception. The reception is a large, open area leading directly to the basketball courts.
After they swipe their 49er cards, students can walk straight back to three of the four basketball courts. The fourth basketball court is located in a seperate room behind the main three.
“We’re hoping to get a bunch of students in here to check out the building, understanding that it isn’t quite ready yet, check it out and bear with us as we go through the renovations that are going to continue for awhile,” said Gatchell.
The Recreational Services offices are also located on the main floor, to the right of the reception desk. Rec Services is already beginning working in Belk Gym.
The fitness areas are located on the ground floor which can be accessed through a new stairwell that was added.
The gym is roughly the same size as the one located in the Student Activity Center. It has a variety of different machines and free-weights for a variety of different workouts.
“There’s the oppurtunity to have twice as many students, so hopefully we’ll get some of those students who may have joined another gym to come back,” said Gatchell.
Students wishing to use the gym will have to swipe their 49er card a second time.
On the same floor are the cycling studio, two racquetball courts, reduced from four, a group fitness area, used for yoga classes and stretching, locker rooms and the pool.
The pool was not open to students at the time of the soft opening and will most likely not be ready until at least next semester.
Neither the pool, nor the second floor of Belk Gym were ready for the soft opening. However, the second floor is planned to be open for the Spring 2016 semester.
The second floor is where the kinesiology classes will be held. Students who are going to class in Belk Gym will be able to take one of two staircases leading up to the second floor, which you must pass on your way to reception.
This is designed so that students needing to go to class do not have to sign in at reception first.
There are several classrooms on the second floor, including one lecture hall. There are also several more offices located on the second floor for the kinesiology department.
Kinesiology classes will start in Belk Gym in January as well.
There will be elevator access in Belk Gym, but only to those who have permission. This is to ensure that students cannot access the recreational areas without having signed in at reception.
Belk Gym is free for all students to use. Non-students will have to pay a guest fee and be sponsered by a student, staff or faculty member.
Photos by Ben Robson.