Students, faculty flocking to renovated facility

Jennifer Raggard

Western students are realizing that no matter how much they sweat while trucking up the Hill, it isn’t enough exercise to combat those innumerable pizza nights.

So they’re taking full advantage of the newly renovated Preston Center.

Brad Stinnett, assistant director of facilities at Preston, said he is amazed at the turnout so far.

“Preston is always really busy in September because of the renewed excitement about school, and tests haven’t kicked in yet,” he said. “But we’re definitely seeing more people than in past years.”

Stinnett attributed this rise in Preston’s use to America’s growing concern with how weight can adversely affect health.

According to, approximately one-third of all Americans are obese, and about 300,000 people die each year from poor diet and inactivity.

Stinnett said he thinks good press and word of mouth have also helped draw more people into Preston, particularly to the center’s classes.

“We had an aerobics class one night last week that had 70 people in it,” he said.

Hearing good things about Preston was what inspired Louisville sophomore Whitney Saffel to check it out.

“My friend invited me to come to yoga class with her and I got addicted,” he said. “Then I started using the (elliptical) machine and lifting weights, too. I’ve gained a greater appreciation for being active.”

Stinnett has noticed that faculty and staff use of Preston has also risen.

“We get a lot more staff now, especially very early in the morning,” he said. “From 6 to 7:30 a.m. we have about 100 total faculty and staff members who come in.”

Chris Roberts, computer lab manager at Mass Media and Technology Hall, is a regular at Preston.

Roberts said he didn’t belong to a gym and didn’t exercise before he was hired at Western.

“Originally it was something I had to make myself do because I knew I should,” he said. “I decided that the benefits far outweigh any excuse I might be able to conjure up to not go. Now it has become a hobby that I really enjoy and look forward to daily.”

Saffel echoed these sentiments.

“After awhile you’ll just feel the need to exercise because it feels so good,” he said. “And there’s no reason for us not to use a state-of-the-art gym right here on campus. We pay for it with our tuition, might as well use it to be healthy.”

Reach Jennifer Raggard at [email protected]