BY KASS LAWRENCE ’22
Since the beginning of the spring semester, use of Mount Holyoke’s weight training room, known to students as the “Lyons Den,” has been restricted only to physical education classes and varsity and club athletes. Students and faculty who don’t participate in competitive sports or take a physical education class have therefore lost access to this fitness area.
“For the past two years that I have been at Mount Holyoke, I have used the Lyons Den almost every day. [The Athletic Department’s] decision has significantly impacted my ability to work out and I am really frustrated about the lack of transparency,” said Se’ Ferrell ’20, Community Advisor of the Outdoor Living Learning Community in Ham Hall. “They did not ask students before they made this change and did not tell the students why they made their decision,” she said.
Many students share similar concerns. “You can’t take away space, especially when our gym for 2,000 students is so small and lacking proper gear,” said Ellie Viggiani ’20, a Mount Holyoke Outing Club leader. “There is no space to do workouts, any real weight lifting or physical therapy,” she said. Viggiani feels the new policy puts constraints on proper strength training needs.
Kendall Sports & Dance Complex is home to multiple workout spaces including the fitness center, the field house, dance studios, squash courts and the natatorium, all of which are open to the local community as well as Mount Holyoke students and faculty.
“The Fitness Center is really intended for the broader community,” said Director of Athletics Lori Hendricks. However, Hendricks stated, “Our athletes do want a space where they can work out.”
“Specifically for the varsity and club student-athletes, they now have more flexibility to get their workout in throughout the day during the time slots that are not reserved by a weight training class, varsity team or club sport, which is necessary for injury prevention and performance,” said Iris Carpio, head volleyball coach and a proponent of this policy change. “This will free up more time our athletes can use to study, engage with other activities on campus, and take care of their bodies — more time to eat and sleep.”
“The Lyons Den is essentially acting as a lab where our stakeholders will learn, experience and grow with the necessary space and tools in order to improve, perform and excel in their sport or weight training class,” Carpio said.
Hendricks and Associate Athletic Director of Facilities Bardee Sadlier are open to any new ideas or suggestions regarding Kendall’s facilities. Whether that may involve a new workout space or more equipment is up for discussion. “We have been very open to tell folks to tell us what [they’re] missing,” said Hendricks.
Since the policy is still new, the Athletics Department is happy to advise anyone that has questions about access to the Lyons Den. Desires for change or accommodations will continue to be open to discussion in regards to both the Lyons Den and the Kendall complex.