The R. Brad Martin Student Wellness Center at the University of Memphis (UofM) opened June 30, 2021. The two-story facility is adjacent to the Hunter Harrison pedestrian cable bridge. It leads to the heart of campus, and a five-story, 1,140-space parking garage. For that reason, it’s uniquely positioned for students on and off campus.
- A wide array of cardio and weight equipment and machines.
- Indoor and outdoor basketball courts.
- Three tennis courts.
- Wellness patio.
- Outdoor leisure pool.
- Tiger Cafe.
- Tiger Food Lab teaching kitchen.
- Indoor track.
- Classroom space.
- Four fitness studios.
The new facility operates in tandem with UofM’s existing Student Recreation and Sports Complex. With a pedestrian walkway from one facility to the other, it will continue to provide intramural sports, club sports, outdoor playing fields and indoor swimming.
For the fitness equipment in the new facility, Katie Gerstemeier, the director of Programming for Campus Recreation, had a specific vision. “I went with a main brand for the majority of equipment,” she said. “One that was ‘timeless’ in their style, and both beginner and veteran exercisers would enjoy. After I got the base-level equipment picked out with Life Fitness, I sought other brands to fill in gaps. For instance, an Octane Fitness seated elliptical versus a standard recumbent bike, or an AssaultRunner treadmill instead of the standard motor-driven treadmills.”
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In addition to the array of modern amenities, Steve Whistler, the executive director of Campus Recreation at UofM, elaborated on the transparent design of the facility, led by ANF Architects, that provides a sense of openness and exposure to those walking by from the outside.
“We wanted people to get a view of what they could do and what they could experience,” said Whistler. “It’s a contrast to our former facility that was built in 1971 and very compartmentalized. We’ve got four group fitness studios in the new facility and each of those are very transparent with frosting on the glass and large windows. It’s been very rewarding to see the response when people walk in.”
One of the new facility amenities you can’t miss is the new Tiger Food Lab teaching kitchen. With Campus Recreation falling under the College of Health Sciences, Whistler shared it has enhanced what’s happening in this space because it’s being used for academic purposes as well.
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“It’s one of the most exciting elements in this new facility,” he elaborated. “We’ve already held some lunch and learn events, had date night events, and everything that happens in there is a huge success.”
With recreation under an academic unit, Whistler shared it did influence the design of the facility with the addition of classrooms in a dedicated part of the facility. But all results have been positive — especially the influx of new students coming into the facility.
“It’s somewhat unusual to have a building where you can walk in and get to a space without going through control, but it has worked well for us so far,” said Whistler. “We have the main corridor down the middle of the facility and it’s been a great place for students to come and hang out if they’re waiting for a class or have a break. Maybe they’re going to work out, but they need to do some schoolwork before. The usage all-around has been neat to see.”