The space in the basement of Walker Fieldhouse that once housed mailboxes and packages will soon be home to full-body-length mirrors and Zumba beats, as students, faculty and staff will now have a new group workout locale.
“We’ve been wanting a new fitness space for a long time, but we didn’t quite have the right fit anywhere,” Campus Recreation Program Director John Guetter said. Prior to the studio’s Valentine’s Day grand opening, classes such as Zumba and yoga had taken place in miscellaneous spots around campus such as Bush Ballroom and the Hub.
When Sorin Hall underwent renovation in the fall of 2017, one possibility was to build a new fitness space in Hamline’s only air-conditioned dormitory.
“As Sorin came to be in its new structure, at one point in time [the question] was, could this area be there?” Dean of Students and Title IX Coordinator Patti Klein said. Obviously, “That developed into something else.”
However, with so many services formerly located in Bush Student Center relocating to Sorin during this great re-vamp, such as Public Safety, PiperXpress, and the multi-faith Gathering Place, it made sense to erect the fitness studio in the former mailroom.
“The opportunity for this space, you know, came, and then it was open,” Guetter said.
From Martial Arts Club to the dance ensembles, there is no shortage of groups wanting to take advantage of Walker Studio.
“The development of the new movement [and] dance studio space in Walker 034 provides students in dance a movement space equipped with a good dance floor, large open work area and good lighting,” theatre professor Bill Wallace said in an email interview. “The new space will allow us to enlarge the enrollment in dance classes, provide a new work area for guest artists and support a number of other initiatives.”
Among those other initiatives is Zumba. 2015 alumna Thomas Krohn, one of two instructors who teaches the dance-based aerobic class at Hamline, expressed excitement about the new studio.
“It’s kind of an upgrade from the spaces that I’ve usually used,” Krohn said. “The floor is set up to be specially used for higher-energy fitness classes, and also the sound system is going to be very, very cool.”
Junior Aaron Lembi has been helping to publicize the space to various student organizations to let them know it is an option if they are struggling to find meeting places. If students want to come to Walker Studio during a more solitary time, he recommends avoiding weekday evenings, when Zumba and yoga classes are typically in session.
“If you want to utilize it throughout the day, it’ll definitely be less busy,” Lembi said.
Hamline seeks to promote inclusivity as a core value, and although one might associate Walker Fieldhouse strictly with sports teams, Klein emphasized that Walker Studio is no exception to this commitment.
“Not only for athletes, but for all students,” she said of the studio.