Work was completed this month on the new Emerson Fitness Center, a 2,800-square-foot space on the main level of the former Emerson Performing Arts Center. The new center features a wide variety of cardio and strength-training equipment, deadlift platforms, indoor turf for strength and conditioning training, and Peloton® bikes.
“To see the building being transformed into a world-class fitness center has been incredible to witness. We were all excited to see the finished product. I believe that the space will be a focal point for our current students and faculty and help attract new families to our campus,” said Director of Athletics Mike Marich P’23.
The idea of creating an expanded fitness center was inspired by conversations with faculty and students. “It was often cited as an area for growth and opportunity,” said Seth Low, Associate Head of School and Director of Co-Curricular Programs, noting that the new center will help to accommodate the breadth of the school’s athletic and co-curricular offerings, including X-term, Mind + Body, and yoga. “This is going to be great for kids who want a serious workout and those who have an interest in maintaining their health and fitness at any level,” Low said.
The facility was designed by the S/L/A/M Collaborative, the same architectural firm that developed the plans for the Thomas S. Perakos Arts and Community Center. “We were trying to keep the character of the old EPAC with the old windows and barn aesthetic,” said Geoffrey Gaunt, Associate Principal at S/L/A/M. “We’re holding onto the character of the space but allowing for a new function.”
According to former School Archivist Paula Krimsky, noted architect Ehrick Rossiter of the Class of 1870 originally designed the building for use as a school gym in 1913. Students played basketball there and particpated in wrestling matches, and with the advent of co-education in 1977, the space was converted for girls’ volleyball games. In 1996, architects Hammond, Beebe and Babka of Chicago redesigned the structure as the performing arts center.
The final design incorporated EPAC’s original windows and high ceiling as well as new LED lighting, new flooring, panels for sound absorption, a widescreen TV and Bluetooth amplifier. There are new treadmills, exercise bikes, elliptical machines, a climbing rope, pull-up bar and pegboard. The entryway has been renovated with personal storage space and a place for students to change out of their street shoes, and a water bottle filling station.
With this addition, students now have access to two fitness centers on campus. The space on the lower level of the Ogden D. Miller Memorial Athletic Center will be utilized by individuals and teams as an open fitness area for stretching, boot camp exercises, Pilates and yoga, Low said. It is equipped with free weights, medicine balls, kettlebells, plyo boxes, wall balls and stability balls.
S/L/A/M worked in collaboration with Low and Marich as well as Michel Williams, Project Manager and Director of Safety and Security, and Christopher McKhann, a faculty member and coach who specializes in strength and conditioning training. McKhann co-teaches the Mind + Body co-curricular program, serves as Head Coach for the Varsity Ski Team, and offers outdoor sled training to individuals and teams. He plans to utilize the turf area in the new center for indoor sled training as well as sprints, warmups and cool-downs.
“I’ve had experience working with college athletes and experience working in a lot of different spaces, and seeing what works and what doesn’t,” said McKhann, who was a performance coach at Middlebury College prior to joining The Gunnery last fall. “I think this space is going to be a really good fit for our athletes as well as the rest of our student body.”