by Caitlin Tortorici
Whitman has a new obsession: It’s not that cute freshman in your calculus class; it certainly isn’t facebook. It’s the Baker Ferguson Fitness Center.
Since the new facility’s opening on Thursday, Aug. 31, fitness veterans and rookies alike have rushed to experience athleticism at its finest.
Junior Kaitlin Phillips, who set foot in Sherwood only twice last year, enjoys the new facility up to five times a week. “It’s so snazzy,” said Phillips.
Why so snazzy?
“It’s like a health club,” said a sophomore and former Sherwood enthusiast. “It’s so much more convenient than Sherwood.”
It’s true. No longer do gym-goers arrive to a conniving vending machine and a waiting list for dysfunctional machinery. Since the dawning of Baker Ferguson, Whitties are greeted by smiling staff members in red uniforms, towels neatly folded, and 49 cardio machines to get their hearts racing and fat burning.
And what’s more: each treadmill, bicycle, and elliptical comes with a TV screen and nearly 80 channels to choose from. In a single Zone training session, students can expand their minds with educational programming, or dilute them with the entertainment channel of their choice.
Leading up to the impressive front line of cardio machines, the athletic center houses over 150 pieces of strength equipment.
If the first floor is too overwhelming, students can climb up to the second and work their bodies in a smaller, more intimate space. Those wondering where they keep the less ambitious free weights will find them here as well.
As for the mysterious room next door with the yellow spinning bikes, it was originally intended to be a stretching room. According to Tom Olson, gym officials may move the bikes to Sherwood and convert the cardio room into a spinning space. In any case, Olson hopes to offer spinning classes for credit within the next year. Meanwhile, the bikes are available to anyone craving a ride.
Students also have the option of cooling off on in the athletic center’s 30-meter pool, which serves recreational swimmers as well as varsity teams, club water polo teams, kayaking club practice, and community organizations such as the Walla Walla High School swim team. The pool regularly opens for recreational use Monday through Friday from 7 to 9 a.m. and noon to 1:30 p.m., and Monday through Thursday from 7:30 to 9:30 p.m. It opens from 2 to 5 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays and Sundays from 7 to 9 p.m.
Some may say that an athletic center is only as good as its lavatory. So, it’s only appropriate that Ferguson’s locker room comes with glistening toilets, handsome navy lockers, and commodious showers.
Baker Ferguson, the man behind the center’s name, grew up in Walla Walla and graduated from Whitman in 1939. He taught briefly in the business and economics department after World War II, and served on board of trustees from 1966 to 1983. He mentored many Whitman presidents and earned the 2000 Whitman College Alumni Association Gordon Scribner Award for Distinguished Service. The new facility celebrates his seventy-year association with the college.
Baker Ferguson’s 10,000 square feet of fitness training space is open to all students, faculty and staff. It operates at the same hours kept by Sherwood: 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, and noon to 9 p.m. on Sundays. Sherwood will remain open to facilitate varsity and IM sports, rock climbing, racquetball and dance classes.