The Ralph O’Connor Center for Recreation and Well-Being is scheduled for completion by Oct. 4 and will open at full capacity by mid-October. The University announced plans to expand the Recreation (Rec) Center in 2020.
The Rec Center is currently open at limited capacity, with less than usual cardio and strength equipment, basketball courts, the bouldering cave, the climbing wall and group fitness classes available to Hopkins affiliates. No prior registration is required, nor are there density limits.
Bill Harrington, senior associate athletic director and director of recreation and facilities, explained that one of the goals of construction is to rebrand the center to include the Center for Health Education and Well-Being in an interview with The News-Letter.
“Instead of being just the Ralph S. O’Connor Recreation Center, it’s the Ralph S. O’Connor Center for Recreation and Well-Being,” he said. “It’s transformational both in design and in sincere interest in student life, combining our two offices to do more robust programming.”
The construction project is also focused on expanding and reorganizing the space itself. The weight room and cardio spaces will more than double, and spaces for group fitness — including yoga, Zumba, cycling and F45 — are being redesigned to support multiple classes simultaneously. Harrington stressed that these changes will allow students to freely choose between multiple classes and amenities, especially at times when the Rec Center is usually the busiest.
Other changes include a smoothie cafe in partnership with local vendor Good Part & Co. The cafe will offer grab-and-go items from Hopkins dining services and will be furnished with indoor and outdoor seating. According to Harrington, it is primarily intended to be a hangout space.
Students have been using the limited cardio and strength equipment since Sept. 1. Sophomore Jerry Jin, who uses the strength equipment regularly, felt limited by the lack of equipment. He added that though there is some useful equipment, the strength section of the gym is usually too crowded.
Sophomore Andrew Na agreed, stating that he was looking for alternatives to the Rec Center in an interview with The News-Letter.
“It sucks that it’s partly closed, so I’ve been doing bodyweight exercises in my room,” he said. “I’m trying to figure out how to go to the YMCA or Brick Bodies.”
Harrington noted that by Oct. 1, University administrators will know whether Oct. 4 is a realistic opening date. He is confident that the Rec Center will by fully open and operational by mid-October.
According to Harrington, the Rec Center is looking to hire.
“We’re always in need of energized people that want to come work at the Rec Center,” he said. “The only way we can be open that many hours a week is to have lots of staff around.”