Ping stands strong amidst healthy competition

With Ohio University’s multipurpose center set to be completed by Fall Semester 2013, Ping Center is not scheduled to undergo changes anytime soon.

Since opening in 1996, Ping Center has been the central place for fitness for students and faculty at OU.

Taking up 168,000 square feet, Ping is one of the largest recreational facilities in the country, according to its website. 

However, many of the free weights, weight machines, treadmills, stair climbers, and other pieces of equipment seem worn down and outdated when compared with some of the newer facilities on college campuses across the country.

Schools such as the University of Missouri, Ohio State University, and the University of North Dakota all have recently undergone $100 million-plus renovations, setting a high standard for the rest of the country.

“It costs a ton of money to renovate; look at Ohio State and Purdue,” said Hafedh Benhadj, director of Ping. “There is about $1.5 million in moveable equipment in Ping right now.”

Moveable equipment is anything that is not connected to the building, Benhadj added.

Benhadj, who has been director of Ping since 1998, said he feels the staff does a good job of keeping the equipment clean and functioning.

“We use four different kinds of products on the equipment. … It is impossible to kill all bacteria, but we kill the harmful stuff like MRSA,” Benhadj said.

With all the use that Ping gets on a daily basis, it becomes difficult to stay on top of upkeep.

At least 500,000 people visit Ping per year. However, daily visits depend a lot on weather and the time of year, but Ping can have as many as 4,500 people a day, Benhadj said.

“I appreciate the equipment, but I think there needs to be more benches and squat racks… People also shouldn’t have to wait in line to perform the best lifts,” said Jake Orr-Zody, a senior studying specialized studies with a concentration in health and psychology. He also has an internship with the Ohio football program as a student assistant.

However, Benhadj said that students don’t always know everything that goes on behind the scenes at Ping. It is easy for students to ask for a new weight room or new treadmills when they don’t know what all goes into acquiring that equipment. One treadmill can cost up $10,000.

The free weight room measures in at 3,990 square feet, containing 12,350 lbs. of free weights, rubber flooring, 41 free weight stations, and 10 resistance stations, among other things.

“I think the weights are OK, but they could really use some new equipment,” said Dan Loufman, a senior studying English.

Benhadj said they do small renovations from time to time, keeping Ping as safe as possible, but he is unaware of any future upgrades.

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