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Nelson Fitness Center flexes new equipment, layout

Over the winter break, the Nelson Fitness Center underwent several changes, including the addition of a grass field, five squat racks and deadlift platforms.

This project, which was funded by the University’s Division of Athletics and Recreation, aimed to elevate the experience of students, Brown Recreation fitness and wellness manager Amy Dean wrote in an email to The Herald.

Dean added that Brown Recreation has strived to open up space while still adding new equipment. “Some of the new equipment has multiple functions, so we were able to buy one machine that does two things, which allowed for more open spaces,” she wrote.

According to Dean, the upgrades sought to “increase student engagement and eliminate barriers to fitness by providing diverse equipment in various areas throughout the Nelson.”

The Nelson opened in 2012 and “features a 10,000-square-foot multi-purpose fitness facility with more than 85 exercise machines for students, faculty and staff,” according to the Brown Recreation website.

“The Nelson Fitness Center equipment has seen a lot of use over the past 10 years, and it was time for it to be replaced,” Dean wrote.

Dana Magana ’25, who learned about the upgrade to the Nelson from Brown Recreation’s Instagram page, heard “mixed reviews.”

“It’s a good change, especially because of the added squat racks,” Magana said. According to Magana, a lack of enough machines to meet student demand has caused long wait times in past semesters.

“It’s definitely a step in the right direction,” said Batisse Manhardt ’26. “More equipment means more people can go.”

Rayna Simons ’24 said the upgrade was necessary. “It was usually pretty crowded to the point where sometimes I would say it was a hindrance to a good workout at best,” Simons said. She added that some banks are “kind of falling apart”.

According to Magana, a larger fitness center will solve overcrowding in gym facilities. “The gym is a great way to relax, and it’s important that Brown prioritizes that and the facilities available to students,” she said.

Manhardt said that a solution to overcrowding in the freeweight section of the Nelson could be to move the cardio section to a separate area.

“We plan to continually evaluate the equipment and spaces as time progresses,” Dean wrote. “We have many plans to continue to improve the spaces and programming with Brown Recreation, and we appreciate the support as we continue to grow.”

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