The Student Recreation Center at Western Michigan University (WMU) was built in 1994.
And from the very beginning, the school purchased Matrix equipment. “We installed Magnum weight equipment, which is now within the Matrix product portfolio,” said Amy Seth, the director of university recreation at Western Michigan University. “This purchase marked the beginning of our use of Matrix products … Initially, we worked with a local representative who provided excellent customer service. Our equipment was maintained and repaired locally and our downtime was minimal. Over the years, we updated focused areas of the facility. We were comfortable with the Matrix staff and enjoyed their service”
In 2014, its 8,000-square-foot weight room was remodeled. Seth said they started extensive research investigating equipment replacement. Grids, students and more were used in the process to figure out how to maximize the space and student workout experience. But while the space changed, Western Michigan’s choice of product ultimately did not.
“We narrowed down the products and brought information back to the users for a vote,” said Seth. “The table was wide open for anyone to share their product. While no company had everything, Matrix listened and was able to deliver all the varieties we needed for our unique populations. Matrix wowed us again with their intuitive design, quality service, overall product, as well as prices. Our longevity with Matrix products was also a factor. The investment made long ago turned out to be a solid choice for WMU.”
Below, Seth shares more insights into their partnership with Matrix.
CR: What are the benefits to your rec center as a result of this partnership?
AS: We are a small staff with a rec center footprint that is 240,000 square feet. We need partners who understand what we do and honor their work. What’s the benefit of our association with Matrix? Confident investment with people we trust. Our partnership with Matrix is not transactional – i.e., they don’t sell us a product and walk away. They listen and deliver what we need. It’s a conversation about what our issues are and how they can help us be successful. As weight room/cardio equipment has evolved during the past 20 plus years, Matrix continues to focus on providing a quality product that enhances the members’ experience.
We found several aspects of the equipment and services offered by Matrix have helped us support the needs of our patrons. We like the low profile of selectorized weights. For ease to the user, they have a dial for adding incremental weights to the stack. This is very user-friendly to our novice weight room members. Our weight room facility was designed with lots of windows. The goal is to invite people to participate. The low profile weight machines allow for clean sightlines across the space, therefore making it less intimidating. Observers tend to see the students/members before the equipment. This design also allowed us to put the machines back to back, saving space and adding to the flow of the room. The functionality of the machines is outstanding. They are biomechanically sound and promote safe use. The low profile machines all have rep counters on them as well as the QR Codes. When we give tours, we share if students don’t know the weight equipment, a code may be scanned to learn the movements.
CR: What are the benefits to your rec center users as a result of this partnership?
AS: We liked the breaker benches when we learned about this design feature that allows for a safer lift. The breaker bench machine is biomechanically sound and provides the perfect lifting pattern while minimizing the strain on the shoulder as the weight bar is lifted from its initial starting location. Matrix has established great relationships with research partners and has developed educational resources that are easy to access. The department of human performance and health education is housed in our facility. Often we see students working on their exercise science research projects, and the Matrix education library and resources are helpful to the students.
CR: Have you been pleasantly surprised by working with Matrix in any way?
AS: Two things. We requested a treadmill for the president’s house on campus. The basement of this building has a stairwell that was extremely narrow. It was tight beyond their moving specifications. Matrix essentially delivered the treadmill parts to the building and assembled it on site. Now that it is assembled, it will remain in this space for many years. While others might not see that as important or critical, it was important we provide a quality product to our new president. Matrix knew it was important to us and made it a priority.
Matrix is a company that is constantly researching and exploring how the customer will interact with the equipment to get the best result. Sprint 8 is an interval training program that focuses on eight 30-second sprints. High intensity training continues to be popular, and this is a great program on the treadmill or a bike. A new feature they developed is the personal trainer portal. This wasn’t available when we bought the new equipment, but we like the idea they are always pushing to expand the workout experience. This new product allows the trainers to interact with clients and set up workouts. We were impressed by how the workout can connect to other apps to motivate and interact with how the students connect with their phones. It’s like having a personal trainer in your pocket. We are always intrigued by technology that can be customized to help motivate and keep a member active. Matrix is a leader in this trend.
CR: What else can you tell other rec center professionals about working with Matrix?
AS: Do your homework. Try equipment at all of the expos and learn about what it takes to maintain the equipment. The more you know what you need, the more you can match up to the company that best fits with your goals. Matrix is that company for us. They are a company that consistently provides a great product, works to make us look good in what we offer the campus to have a positive, healthy active experience.
For more information, visit matrixfitness.com.