In recent years, Virginia Tech’s Department of Recreational Sports has expanded McComas Hall’s fitness facilities and introduced décor and amenities to enhance the atmosphere. However, one area that the staff felt still needed enhancement was the group exercise fitness studios. 

They conducted extensive research on trends and peer institutions to develop plans to update the studios, but just couldn’t fully visualize the possibilities for the spaces. That’s when a student recommended they contact the Interior Design Program in the College of Architecture and Urban Studies.

The fourth-year interior design majors in Frances Temple-West’s class were up to the task, and they spent fall semester thoroughly researching the challenge and developing proposals. 

While much of the research revolved around trends in the industry, best practices, and interviewing exercise class participants, Recreational Sports provided the students group exercise passes for the semester so that the students could do their own first-hand research by attending the classes, which led to many valuable observations and, in some cases, created new fitness enthusiasts.

Just before Thanksgiving, the students presented their concepts for fitness studio redesigns to members of the Recreational Sports staff.

"I was really impressed by the work the students did in giving us some ideas on improving the visual as well as practical opportunities in our group exercise studios and the adjoining spaces,"  said Chris Wise, director of recreational sports. "The many concepts presented showed how individuals think differently about space and purpose. These designs will help us ultimately improve the experience for our students, and it is great that the concepts are from the students themselves."

The following fourth-year interior design majors presented their designs:

  • Emily Bickel of Virginia Beach, Virginia;
  • Julia Cherundolo of Sterling, Virginia;
  • Becca Copeland of Fredericksburg, Virginia;
  • Lyndsay Digman of Winchester, Virginia;
  • Ashley Gassan of Arlington, Virginia;
  • Katie Good of Virginia Beach, Virginia;
  • Dani Lang of Reston, Virginia;
  • Erika Larson of Centreville, Virginia;
  • Christine Nelson of Langhorne, Pennsylvania;
  • Ana Petronijevic of Great Falls, Virginia; and
  • Tor Waschenko of Ambler, Pennsylvania.

Alison Cross, associate director of recreational sports, sat in on the presentations and was very impressed with the students' work and excited about the possibilities the design proposals offered for the studio renovations. 

“We want to create more of an experience in the fitness classes, and hopefully we can use these designs to inspire our plans going forward,” said Cross. “They did a lot of research and all presented very different designs and inspirations and they definitely brought up a lot of great ideas. It was a very professional level of work.”

Cross hopes that many of the concepts presented — ranging from simple enhancements to more major renovations — can be implemented in the future. The staff of Recreational Sports will now work with Facilities Services to discuss feasibility of some of the concepts and develop a budget proposal. 

Depending on funding, some of the more minor updates could be introduced to McComas for fall 2015. 

Based on the success of this project, the Recreational Sports team would like to continue the relationship with the Interior Design Program for future projects in War Memorial Hall.

"After seeing the quality of work that these students presented, and recognizing the passion and value they had because they were working on improving their university, it became clear to me that having a class such as this involved with us when we begin to move forward with renovations to War Memorial Hall would be an awesome opportunity," said Wise.