El Paso - Right next door to the UTEP Swimming and Fitness Center, construction looms. It's the beginning of a major $32 million upgrade that will transfrom this gym into a brand new state of the art workout facility, and the students are pumped up.
"This gym is kind of small for a lot of the students and a lot of times we can get enough of a workout in because we have to wait for the machines we want, said sophomore Alan Couttolenc.
The students wanted the upgrade and lobbied for the changes through a referendum directed at University staff. But it's not without a price. Starting in January students will see some of their fees increase from $20 to $70 each semester. And, some students don't want to pay it, however, the Vice President of Student Affairs, Dr. Richard Padilla dosen't understand why they don't want to pony up the extra cash.
"The real question is why don't you. I mean in today's world, we all know the importance of health and fitness, but in addition to that, it's a great social opportunity to interact with your fellow students, get to know them," states Padilla.
The new workout center will include a rock climbing wall, an indoor jogging track an eighth of a mile long and. the number of cardio machines will triple.
Something cardio enthusiast Arthur Imai, can't wait to step on: two full length basketball courts.
"Basketball will be way better than playing at Memorial Gym. Coming over here, saving the trip and fitness is just an awesome thing to have in your life," says the UTEP senior.
UTEP hopes that many more of its students will soon share Arthur's perspective. "I have more energy. I can do a lot more things than just sitting at home watching TV. I eat healthy, I drink more water, and have a better state of mind."
The new workout facility will open its doors in the Spring of 2011. The existing Swimming and Fitness Center will close next January for remodeling.