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Jesse Owens North renovations bring different crowd to one of campus’s oldest gyms

Renovations to North Campus over the past two years have changed the role Jesse Owens North Recreation Center plays on campus. Credit: Sara Stacy | Assistant Arts & Life Editor

The numerous renovations to Jesse Owens North Recreation Facility have left some students feeling dissatisfied and others gratified for its new aesthetic.

The facility on the corner of Lane and Neil Avenues was built in 1976 and cost $500,000. The gym was a 5-10 minute walk for 10,000-12,000 Ohio State students, according to Ohio State Recreational Sports’ website.

It was also the only facility where any student could reserve basketball courts for an upcoming week.

That is, until the North Recreation Center was built August 2016.

Since then, JO North has made many renovations. The basketball courts were removed, as well as many cardio machines and tumbling mats. The gym now focuses on weight-lifting equipment.

Currently at JO North there is cardio equipment, free weights, and a variety of machines available for use. Instead of a tumbling mat, JO North now has turf inside that students use for the crossfit trend.

“I don’t go to JO North anymore because it is so much different,” said Carole Nelson, a third-year in speech and hearing science. “They got rid of the mats that I liked to do my workouts on.”

According to JO North attendance data available for the 2014-15 academic year and the first month of the 2017-18 academic year, there is no evident decline in attendance. Data for the 2015-17 academic years were not available upon request.

“Jesse Owens North hasn’t become less busy since the North Recreation Center opened,” Mike Peeples, a fourth-year in communication and student employee at both recreation centers, said. “I think the amount of students has stayed the same. Most people that work out here are into powerlifting instead of cardio, which is why there are less cardio machines.”

Peeples said while JO North might attract less students overall, there is a strong community within the facility — there are regulars and everyone knows each other.

Brandon McAulay, a fifth-year in mechanical engineering, said that he favors JO North because it is much less cardio heavy compared to NRC. “I prefer lifting, and it is the least-busy gym when I’m done with class.”

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