Sept. 10, 2021
New spaces, equipment, and upgrades: Active Living improvements are ready for users
When you’re the top sport science school in North America — and 11th in the world — your facilities matter a bit more than they might anywhere else. That’s one of the reasons why people coming back to campus in September will notice an elevated experience throughout Active Living and the Outdoor Centre, as upgrades that were started more than two years ago are available to users.
“I want our facilities to be the most innovative spaces that people want to use,” says Albert Iamartino, director of Active Living and the Outdoor Centre. “My hope is that we are a leader in equipment and group fitness, so that we can be the top health and wellness campus facility in North America.”
Physical activity boosts overall wellness
When Iamartino joined UCalgary in 2018, he brought with him a deep background from The City of Calgary’s recreation portfolio and knew the potential that existed in the Kinesiology facilities. Despite their age, he saw miles left on spaces with the right updates, foresight, and maintenance. Working with a cross-campus team and leveraging information gleaned through recent student surveys, elements ranging from signage and seating to entirely new workout spaces will be front and centre this fall.
“Throughout the pandemic, people had to step back and see what was important in their lives. One is mental health, and we know it’s closely tied to physical activity,” he says. “The benefits of physical health are so important to our overall wellness: mental health, socialization, resilience, and everything in between.”
There are new seating spaces in the Kinesiology buildings that give students, faculty, and staff comfortable places to meet or take a rest while they are in the building, thanks to an investment from the Campus Improvement Fund. Signage has been updated to be more modern and clearer for wayfinding. There are new bathrooms, including those for all genders and changing spaces for parents with children, and general maintenance updates have enhanced the spaces.
New spaces to workout
For those interested in getting a sweat on, the Gold Fitness Alcove is a previously underused area that was mostly for storage. It benefitted from funding from SU Quality Money and is now a feature space enclosed in glass, with room for up to seven users at a time to practice functional fitness with skiing ERGs, tires, sleds, a sprint treadmill, kettlebells, and free weights.
The main Fitness Centre is also in the process of being reimagined to better use the space throughout. Upstairs around the track, another large area is being planned for functional movement, including battle ropes and other equipment for HIIT-style workout (high-intensity interval training). Thoughtful touches are everywhere, making the buildings feel more modern and user-friendly.
“One important consideration about Active Living and Campus Recreation is that we are here for every student (members through student fees), faculty/staff members as well as the greater community. I believe these upgrades and continual improvements will strengthen the all-around university experience and quality of life for our users,” says Iamartino.
Outdoor Centre has transformed
The Outdoor Centre also underwent some transformations. The restructured entrance reduces congestion, with a dedicated pick-up and drop-off desk that creates more flow. And a small silver lining of the pandemic is the new online rental system that allows users to book appointments for receiving and returning their equipment.
“People can check if equipment is available on their own, instead of calling in and waiting on the phone,” says Paul Chiddle, manager of the Outdoor Centre. “It also helped us to identify more efficient processes for turning around our equipment, which we can do much quicker now. It’ll allow us to have regular gear sales and upgrade our rental fleet to have newer equipment, in a bigger way,” he says.
Great student employment opportunities
As students are heading back to campus, they should also take advantage of the many job opportunities within Active Living and the Outdoor Centre that provide a unique element of experience and mentorship in different disciplines. “In the outdoor industry, there are a lot of people who want to become practitioners, and we can provide mentorship through skills development and certifications within the Outdoor Centre itself—a pathway for students to progress,” Chiddle says.
For Iamartino, the vision is clear. “My hope is that UCalgary can support all stages of Active Living for life, by providing facilities, programs, rentals, and services from parent-and-tot, to seniors, including adaptive fitness, and high performance in athletics. It’s a lifelong continuum that benefits everyone and makes for an incredible campus and student experience.”