Tri-campus Gym Breakdown: Athletic Centre

How to stay active at the Athletic Centre

Tri-campus Gym Breakdown: Athletic Centre

The Athletic Centre (AC) stands as a large red and beige brick at the corner of Harbord Street and Spadina Avenue, accessible for students and Toronto residents alike. Classes, training sessions, and drop-in programs are available to all members throughout the week.

The building hosts more activities, people, teams, and classes than I will be able to list. Even though indoor track season and a wide assortment of activities at the AC can create a sometimes hectic environment, it goes to show that the gym is incredibly well-used. National swim meets and track meets have been hosted by the AC. Olympic and professional athletes go through its doors to use the facilities.

It holds an Olympic-sized pool, a smaller pool, three different basketball gyms, a gymnastics room, a dance room, a fencing room, squash courts, ping-pong rooms, and spacious locker rooms. Members of the AC create a welcoming mix of young and old people who get to come together and use the facilities to gain strength, play games, swim, run, and much more.

Starting at the third and highest floor is the field house: a large room with a 200-metre track surrounding four full-sized basketball courts. On the edges, there are various workout machines that are almost always available for use.

If you want to play basketball, volleyball, tennis, or attend drop-in classes like Zumba, be sure to check the AC’s online schedule and look at some class reviews in The Varsity.

If you’re into basketball, after 4:00 pm, there is almost always at least one court available for basketball, but on Monday through Thursday after 7:00 pm, there are always intramural basketball games while classes are in session.

Also, before waltzing onto the court, be careful and look both ways! There are often incredibly fast members of the track team sprinting, older gym members trotting, or young children running on the track, none of whom you want to bump into.

On the edges of the field house, there are several mysterious big yellow doors. Most of them lead you outside of the building, so to all the explorers reading this: be warned, for you may end up outside in the cold wearing your gym clothes. If you have any other questions or concerns about using the field house, you can always consult a blue shirt for assistance.

The second floor has an additional basketball gym where the varsity basketball and volleyball teams used to play before the Goldring Centre for High Performance Sport was built. The gym now hosts the badminton program, field hockey practices, and various other programs and teams throughout the week. In addition, there is the Clara Benson student lounge, a dance room, and many offices.

The first floor welcomes guests with friendly staff at the help desk where there is a customer service desk to talk about membership, a café, a lobby with couches, and the pool gallery. However, the strength and conditioning centre is the cornerstone of the first floor.

This is where people go to improve their strength using a wide array of push, pull, and lifting machines. There are plenty of free weights and benches for nearly everyone to use the weight they need. This part of the gym tends to get very busy, but most exercisers are very cooperative and friendly when asked to share equipment, so feel free to communicate with your fellow gym-goers.

Staff members in red shirts keep track of how many people are in the room and ensure that people are using equipment properly and wearing close-toed shoes. When it gets full, they will post a sign telling members that they are at capacity, and members must wait until some people leave. Unfortunately, there is no natural light, and the lighting is very white, which can turn some gym-goers away.

The sweaty smell and stuffiness can become overwhelming, so if some of your workout can take place elsewhere, I recommend retreating upstairs to the field house. Or you can take advantage of women’s only hours or quiet hours to make your workout experience more peaceful.

Once again, if any challenges arise or if you have general questions while working out, staff members are certified physical trainers and will always be happy to give some workout advice or act as a spotter.

Finally, we enter the basement. The basement has both men’s and women’s locker rooms, which include showers and steam rooms. This is also where to go when accessing the pool deck. Also hidden along the east side of the building’s bottom floor are the fencing and gymnastics rooms, which I will not attempt to explain how to get to.

As a basketball player, occasional exerciser, and staff member at the AC, I am incredibly grateful for the recreational space that it has provided me, and for the friends I have met while playing and working there throughout my years as an undergrad.

Disclosure: Isaac Consenstein works at the AC.

Switch up your study space

Secluded places to study this finals season

Switch up your study space

If you’ve ever tried to open a bag of chips in a Robarts reading room only to look up after the first crackling bite and see a dozen pairs of eyes glaring at you — you’ve learned that studying in the library isn’t for you.

Still, many students, myself included, find it equally difficult to study at home. Familiar comforts can equal distractions when your eyes wander across the room and catch something to fix, clean, or move; maybe water your plants and take an excursion — or 12 — to the fridge. The proximity to your bed is not helpful either when trying to resist the urge to take multiple Netflix and nap breaks.

Then, there’s the power of the space itself; the ability of lights, sounds, and colours to inspire our thoughts, shift our moods, help us relax, or cause additional stress. As much as it’s important to stay centred regardless of our surroundings, the environment that we find ourselves in can either be helpful or obstructive in this feat.

For those who are searching for a middle ground between studying at home or abiding by the library’s strict pact of silence, I’ve explored and tested some alternative study spaces.

OISE Nexus Lounge — 252 Bloor Street West, 12th Floor

The Nexus Lounge not only boasts one of the most impressive views on campus, but also offers a versatile study area with desk space, lounge space, and a kitchenette.

This makes it effortless to rotate your studying, breaking, and snacking all in one spot, not to mention snapping some stunning scenery. Natural light fills the room during daytime, but the best part comes for those studying overtime — a radiant sunset over the city.

Terrence Donnelly Centre for Cellular & Biomolecular Research, Indoor Garden — 160 College Street, First Floor

If you’re looking for a dynamic and energizing study space, step inside the Donnelly Centre’s indoor garden. Divided by tall tropical plants, this spot feels secluded from the rest of the building. In the midst of palms and bamboo, an opening leads to a wood-based patio with benches. The feeling of being inside a hidden oasis creates a soothing effect. This is a great place to catch up on readings in an incredibly unique environment.

Athletic Centre Pool Gallery — 55 Harbord Street, First Floor

At first glance, this may seem an unlikely study spot. But the Athletic Centre’s pool gallery has a surprisingly de-stressing atmosphere — a result of its vast space and the moderate sounds of swimmers and pool water swaying below.

The bleachers overlooking the pool are often empty in the morning hours and are gradually settled by students camped out with books, bags, and coffee from Café AC just outside. The spot is also great for studying with a friend as you won’t run the risk of getting the dreaded ‘shhh’ when quizzing each other out loud.

Myhal Centre for Engineering Innovation & Entrepreneurship, Atrium — 55 St. George Street, Fifth Floor

The recently opened Myhal Centre has all the sophisticated design and gadgets you’d expect from an engineering building.

This extends to the spacious fifth-floor study hall that makes maximal use of natural shine with its edgy skylights and high ceilings, reducing the use of artificial light sources. Even if you’re not an engineering student, Myhal is friendly, spacious, and has plenty of natural light.

Jackman Law Building —78 Queen’s Park, First Floor

This study spot emanates a sleek modern elegance throughout. The atmosphere is heightened in the main study hall with its abstract edges and endless windows. From the worktables, students get a cozy view of wintry parks outside.

The sights of nature combined with the openness of the space create a peaceful atmosphere that soothes stress. And don’t worry about knowing what habeas corpus means, as students outside the law field have been taking advantage of the spot since the building opened in 2016.