Whether through intercollegiate, club, intramural, or recreational sports, 90% of Southwestern students exercise their way through their four years on campus. And as of this August, SU students, staff, and faculty can finally take advantage of a first-class workout facility on campus. Southwestern has spent the summer making significant upgrades to the Corbin J. Robertson Center. As Assistant Athletic Director Doug Ross says, “I think it’s a true amenity now for students. This is something we can be really proud of.”

Weight Room

What was involved in the overhaul? First, the weight room has been entirely refurbished: the floors have been refinished, the walls painted, and the ceiling tiles replaced. Perhaps most importantly, the 30-year-old weight equipment has been replaced with state-of-the-art Matrix strength-training stations—complete with the latest technology—and free-weight racks. Those committed to supporting sustainability will be happy to see a water bottle refill station installed in coming weeks as well. According to Ross, this is “all new equipment that’s top of the line and commercial grade. It’s like going to a Gold’s Gym”—except that the facility is conveniently available on campus and free for use by SU students, faculty, and staff. Associate Vice President for Facilities Management Mike Miller concurs: “This is more than just sprucing up. It’s essentially a brand new weight room.”

“This is more than just sprucing up. It’s essentially a brand new weight room.”

The weight room has also been newly named the Carla Lowry Fitness Center in honor of the first female director of athletics in the University’s history. During her 17-year tenure, Lowry led SU through the challenging transition from a National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) school to a National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division III institution. Lowry also strengthened the department and its influence on student athletes by expanding sports offerings and overseeing the last major renovation of the athletic center, when it was renamed the Robertson Center in 1996.

In addition to the renovated weight room, the decades-old running track on the second floor has been replaced. Gone is the carpet on top of concrete; in its place is a rubberized athletic track that will lessen impact on joints. “It’s designed to be a little easier on the body,” Ross says. The track will be used in courses fulfilling the Fitness and Recreational Activity requirement of the SU curriculum but is also available for use by those pursuing personal fitness goals. Robertson Center

In three of the corners outside the athletic track, SU community members will also find new cardio equipment, including treadmills, functional trainers, upright and recumbent bikes, and elliptical machines. In the “core corner,” fitness buffs can train their abs and backs using new kettlebells, medicine balls, and resistance bands as well as an ab bench and a back-extension station. New mats and foam rollers are also available for those looking to stretch and release muscle tension. Reception on the wall-mounted and ceiling-suspended TVs in the cardio corners and in the weight room is also being improved through new wiring.

Miller remarks, “Athletics really got the ball rolling on this. We have to give a lot of credit to Dr. Burger, Glada Munt, and senior staff for being supportive of this project, finding the funding, and getting the ball rolling.”

Ross admits that Athletics helped facilitate the upgrades, but he emphasizes that the revitalized facility is intended to serve the entire campus, promoting physical, social, and mental health through recreational activity. “I’m super excited for the faculty, staff, and students to have access to a legitimate fitness facility for their personal well-being, and I think everybody’s really going to like it,” Ross says. “Because of the equipment and renovated space, it’s something that’ll have a greater impact on the campus community.”

“A first-class facility… . It’s going to serve our students, faculty, and staff for many, many years to come.”

SU students, faculty, and staff can try out the new equipment now during the new center’s current “soft opening” while facilities management continues to put the finishing touches on the repairs. The upgrades should be completed within the next week. Miller says that because of these renovations, Robertson has become “a first-class facility… . It’s going to serve our students, faculty, and staff for many, many years to come.”