The Student Newspaper of DePaul University

The DePaulia

The Student Newspaper of DePaul University

The DePaulia

The Student Newspaper of DePaul University

The DePaulia

Is The Ray too crowded?

File – Photo courtesy of Gale Stewart of Newsline
The Ray allows full-time undergrad students unlimited access to athletic facilities during the school year.

The Ray Meyer Fitness and Recreation Center, also known as “The Ray” is especially packed at the beginning of the year and at the beginning of every quarter. Some use it as a space to focus on their workout. For others, it is a social scene. 

In January and February particularly, DePaul students say it is tougher to find space in the gym. There are a variety of factors that could come into play here, including New Year’s resolutions to work out more often.

“The Ray, like most fitness facilities, has higher check-in volumes during peak hours (weekdays 4 p.m. to 8 p.m.) and in the first two months of the year,” said Stephanie Johnson, assistant director of marketing and communications at the Ray Meyer Fitness & Recreation Center.

Some students have decided to deal with the rush.

“I noticed that it was really crowded during all parts of the day, making me have to get creative with a lot of my workouts because most machines aren’t available for use,” DePaul junior Alyssa Miller said.

Other students have changed their routines.

“I’ve honestly given up on trying to lift at The Ray,” said DePaul junior Myles Igunbor. “The sheer amount of people there sometimes doesn’t even let you do your workout routine. I only have a membership to play basketball at this point.”

It might not be surprising that a recreation center on a college campus is popular, but some are struggling to keep a consistent gym schedule as a result of this widely accessible resource.

“I go at a lot of different times of day throughout the week, and every time I went it was always

super busy, even super early in the morning,” Miller said.

For students like Miller, overcrowding at the popular on-campus recreation center is disrupting her schedule. Struggling to maintain a consistent routine for an activity can make it difficult to continue the activity.

Similar to other organizations, the Covid-19 pandemic took a major toll on business at The

Ray. From attendance statistics provided by Johnson, in January 2021, the check-in numbers were at 4,111. In January 2022, the number rose to 31,955.

“We do know that The Ray feels busy, and is certainly busier than in recent years,” Johnson said. “But, the usage of The Ray is still recovering from the impact of the Covid-19 years, and we haven’t yet neared facility usage counts from the past.”

As attendance has recovered, Johnson says the gym is working to accommodate accordingly.

“We have been proactive in expanding the strength spaces and increasing the availability of strength equipment,” Johnson said. “This includes converting Studio B into an additional workout space, adding strength options on the infields of the track (fourth floor), and expanding the strength footprint on the second floor.”

This year, 55,402 people checked in to use the facility in January. This number is consistent with previous January data provided before 2020. In fact, the numbers suggest attendance is far from its peak.

We put a high value on our students’ experience and thus will continue to monitor usage and refine operations to improve user experience,” Johnson said.

The Ray’s main goals as provided by Johnson are “to offer high quality programs and services that are inclusive, innovative and comprehensive, to maintain progressive and well managed facilities in a safe and enjoyable environment, to provide experiential learning and foster the development of leadership, social and management skills through employment and participation opportunities, and to promote sustainability through the effective and ethical management of human, financial and physical resources.”

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