In 2021, SNHU decided to close the pool in the Athletic Complex. According to the Director of Athletics and Recreation, Anthony Fallacaro, this decision was not made lightly.
“The pool wasn’t really being used by our students,” said Fallacaro. “It was really something we were just maintaining and was a community based [area]. As we were looking at things, if this campus starts to get bigger, what do our students want? It was pretty clear that a pool is not what they wanted. It was a tough decision and the community wasn’t happy with me, but the future of SNHU has been [to] lower the tuition and make education more accessible. We know the campus population will go up and that’s prime space.”
The subsequent question is: how will the pool room be repurposed? One idea is to construct an improved fitness center.
When SNHU built Penmen Stadium, used by the soccer, field hockey, lacrosse, and track teams, it included the brand new Strength and Conditioning Center built for all athletes. The intent of this space was not only for athletes to improve, but for the Fitness Center in the Athletic Complex to get some breathing room.
“Nineteen teams were trying to use the Fitness Center while the entire campus was, as well,” said Fallacaro. “When we built the stadium, it was a good opportunity to get the athletes out of that room.”
There have also been significant efforts to make the Fitness Center as accommodating as possible for SNHU’s growing student body.
“We have updated [the Fitness Center] and the equipment in it periodically,” said Fallacaro. “Thirteen years ago we put in all the cardio equipment and we have a lease agreement where, every five years, we replace them with new machines.”
Along with these lease agreements, the school has been trying to install workout facilities in the new residence halls.
“We’ve tried to increase some of the offerings in the residence halls,” said Fallacaro. “On some of the floors we’ll have a [cardio] area and that’s been part of the push for what we’ve seen more use of. When we charted that room, we realized it was cardio that was getting the most use. There seems to be more of that need on campus, so every time we’ve built a new residence hall, we’ve tried to include that equipment in that space as well.”
The issue, however, is comfort within the space. According to statistics provided by the Fitness Center, between 750-850 people used the facility consistently throughout the spring semester. At only 5,500 square feet, the Fitness Center may not be large enough to provide the space needed for a comfortable workout. As the pool room opens up, a new fitness center may be a logical addition.
“That’s prime space there for whatever the students need. I would say we really approached it from a standpoint of we know that what it is now is not really beneficial to our campus. For the future of SNHU, I think that space is going to be valuable. Right now, we’ve emptied the pool out and are assessing the whole building,” said Fallacaro. “We’d like the university to be the one that determines: what do our students need, and what can that space do for them?”
With the demand for a larger, more accommodating fitness center, the newly available pool room is a viable opportunity.