There’s a slogan that’s plastered everywhere on campus: “NJIT MAKES.” This saying is followed by such suffixes as “NJIT MAKES … Engineers,” or “… Innovators,” but not really “NJIT MAKES… Gym Rats.” Alas, this is not a common phenomenon here at New Jersey’s polytechnic university.
This is understandable; after all, most people are commuters, and maybe the gyms at home don’t have that eau de sweaty student that seems to permeate the air at NJIT facilities. However, there’s a small but dedicated minority who have passionate preferences about the gyms available at NJIT, of which there are two.
The Wellness and Events Center gym is located on the second floor of the Estelle and Zoom Fleisher Athletic Center, which is the three-story, 220,000-square-foot building next to Tiernan Hall. It’s hard to miss. Objectively, this gym is very pretty. It’s got an entire glass wall that gives runners a view of all the stragglers going to class late and is overall much more spacious than the Warren Street gym.
The left walls are devoted to cardio equipment including treadmills, stationary bikes, ellipticals and steppers. To the right, there are dumbbells up to 100 pounds, Smith machines and some cable machines. It’s very clear that the center’s gym is meant to cater to the average non-Olympian college student by making it as easy as possible to exercise.
From the CW shows playing on TV screens in the corners to the Olivia Rodrigo music on repeat, the center’s gym resembles a Planet Fitness more than anything else — it’s cardio-focused, with little serious lifting equipment. As a frequenter here, I can testify that the gym mostly hosts amateurs like myself.
Once, I saw a guy drinking his protein shake while he used the other arm to lift a dumbbell — perhaps that’s supposed to maximize the gains? And just last week, there was a frightening incident where someone’s arm almost buckled backwards under the weight while his spotter was distracted by an episode of “Superman and Lois.” Word has it that the heavier weights and equipment are in the Warren Street gym to keep from scaring away any new gym goers.
The Warren Street gym, located at the base of the Honors Residence Hall and more formally known as the Warren Street Fitness Center, is where we’re told the serious weightlifters go. By area, it’s much smaller than the center’s gym, but in many aspects has more equipment. The organization of this gym is sensible and maximizes the number of people and workouts that the space can accommodate.
The left side is reserved for cardio machines like treadmills and ellipticals, with no crossovers between the right side — reserved for weights and machines. This is something that the center’s gym could really benefit from; I’ve lost count of the number of times that I’ve used a treadmill and almost tripped on someone doing ab exercises next to me as I stepped off. And while this is definitely a way to get your heart rate up, it does carry the risks of injury and embarrassment.
Most importantly, the Warren Street gym also has a much larger range of free weights in the form of dumbbells, plates and kettlebells. Additionally, there are more types of machines and equipment than at the center, including four squat racks, two benches, several cable machines, deadlift machines and a full-size punching bag. Although the Warren Street gym is popular with serious gym-goers, the smaller area means that people may have to jostle for space at peak hours.
Ultimately, the gyms are meant to fulfill two different sets of needs. The gym in the center is meant for the New-Year-resolution exerciser or the after-classes de-stresser, while the Warren Street gym has equipment for serious lifters, few though they may number. Together, these spaces serve NJIT’s growing student body. And if neither works for you, maybe try an Aqua Zumba class?