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Nelson Fitness Center flexes new equipment, layout

Facilities rearranged over break, students hope for more improvements

<p>The Nelson opened in 2012 and includes a 10,000 square foot multi-purpose fitness space with more than 85 exercise machines, according to the Brown Recreation website.</p><p>Courtesy of Amy Dean</p><p></p>

The Nelson opened in 2012 and includes a 10,000 square foot multi-purpose fitness space with more than 85 exercise machines, according to the Brown Recreation website.

Courtesy of Amy Dean

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

Funded by the University’s Division of Athletics and Recreation, this project aimed to “elevate the experience” of students, wrote Amy Dean, Brown Recreation fitness and wellness manager, in an email to The Herald. 

Dean added that Brown Recreation strove to open up space while still adding new equipment. “Some of the new equipment has multiple functions, so we were able to purchase 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 multiple areas throughout the Nelson.”

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

“The Nelson Fitness Center equipment had been heavily used 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, has 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 had caused long wait times in past semesters.

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

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

According to Magana, having a bigger fitness center would resolve overcrowding in gym facilities. “The gym is a good way to de-stress, and it’s important that Brown prioritizes that and the facilities that are available to students,” she said.

Manhardt said that a solution to overcrowding in the free weight section of the Nelson could be moving the cardio section to a separate area.

“We plan to continuously evaluate the equipment and spaces as time progresses,” Dean wrote. “We have a lot of 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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