Published by the Students of Johns Hopkins since 1896
April 16, 2024
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COURTESY OF MINGYUAN SONG 

Perhaps the best feature of the Rec Center is the amazing view you get on the treadmills and bikes!

One of the best perks of attending Hopkins is the free, daily access to our state-of-the-art recreation center. And, after their recent renewals, there’s no better time than the present to check out the Ralph S. O’Connor Recreation Center. With new features in the weight room, a number of different workout classes and even a pool and climbing wall, it’s the perfect place to start your day. Work on those muscles and release some pent-up stress and head over. 

The Rec Center has a few different fitness spaces with a variety of ways to boost your cardiovascular health and strength; from a cardio floor, basketball courts and three different weight rooms, the Rec has it all. My favorite has always been the cardio section as soon as you walk into the Rec. The floor-to-ceiling windows are a great distraction, as they look over the greenery outside — I’ve never found treadmill runs so bearable. 

But I’ve spent the most time in the weight room downstairs. The recent overhaul of equipment and workout space introduced a brand new set of dumbbells and many new machines like new squat racks. My only complaint is that broken machineries can take a while to be replaced (looking at you, the pulley machines). 

The weight room is a welcoming space as well! Even though I had never touched weight training before I came to college, I’ve never felt intimidated in the space. People are always willing to teach you the correct form, and spot you on a new personal best! But if you still want a mostly empty gym to yourself, I would recommend the late morning or early afternoon. 

These are not the only ways to improve your fitness. There are many other workshops offered where you can learn something new or meet some friends. A few popular weekly workshops include yoga, boxing, F45 and Spin. Personally, I’ve tried the F45 workouts and one session of yoga. While I still prefer lifting weights and running, those free-body exercises and circuit work can certainly get your heart pumping. 

The Rec is more than just the traditional cardio and weights, though. When I looked up the gym at Hopkins as an excited pre-frosh, I was most intrigued by the climbing facilities. The prospect of having free facilities and equipment was exhilarating, considering an outside climbing membership costs upwards of $95 dollars a month. 

Even though the climbing wall and bouldering cave don’t quite measure up to the private gyms, they are more than enough to get you started! I especially love the bouldering cave, where you get to challenge yourself physically without having to get 50 feet off the ground. The routes are somewhat limited, but what draws me there is the encouraging crowd there. Even if you make it up the easiest line, you will be rewarded with many cheers and fistbumps when you reach the top. I haven’t gone to the climbing wall that much, mostly because I don’t have a belay partner and also a slight fear of heights, but it certainly offers another type of fun. The only difficult thing about those facilities is navigating their inconsistent hours

Another thing to take advantage of is all the different equipment and facilities with your friends! Besides the obvious basketball hoops, the Rec also offers other sports. On a Saturday morning, my friends and I were able to play badminton, pickleball, squash and basketball all within a span of 2 hours — that’s an experience hard to find even if you pay $150 a month at an upscale gym elsewhere! If you go during off hours, all of those spaces would be available to you for free! Plus, there’s no better time than in college to explore different sports and maybe find the one that sticks. 

The Rec Center is the perfect spot to see friends and engage with the Hopkins community all while taking care of your body, and if you haven’t added it into your routine yet, think about doing so now. We’ve only covered a fraction of the things that you can do at the Rec. To mention a few others, there’s also the pool — which offers six 25-yard lanes and deep water for diving — intramural sports tournaments and different lawn games to spice up your picnics! It is a great space to meet new friends, improve your fitness and have a lot of fun! 


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