Fitness is one of the many top priorities on UF students’ daily schedule. From the bodybuilders who walk through the weight room door before the crack of dawn to the average fitness enthusiast who hits the treadmill after work, any type of student can be found at the Southwest Recreation Center.
The Southwest Recreational Center, also known simply as Southwest, is a state-of-the-art fitness facility that has served more than two million students since the Fall of 1994. It consists of two floors, each having its own unique equipment and function.
Unlike the Student Recreation and Fitness Center found near Murphree Hall, parking at Southwest is the most stress-free parking experience on campus for a workout. A sizable parking lot designated for anyone with a UF parking decal sits right across the street and a bus stop sits only a few steps from the front doors.
Gym goers are greeted by large glass windows, fitness instructors and cardio machines, including treadmills, ellipticals and exercise bikes, with personal viewing screens. Students can continue workouts on the second floor with a 1/9 mile indoor track.
Weightlifters find sanctuary in the first floor’s large weight room. Southwest has the most workout equipment on campus: abdominal machines to crunch abs, squat racks for those who actually commit to leg day, bench presses for anyone wishing to pump the pecs’ and more.
Student Rec’s cardio machines, which outnumber its weights, do not make it an ideal place to go. You’ll be waiting half an hour to use a 20-pound dumbbell.
Southwest’s most impressive section — the mirror-lined wall with dumbbells — allows lifters to see their pump anywhere in the weight room.
Students can also register for different classes focusing on yoga, cycling, swimming and other activities. The main factor lifting Southwest over Student Rec is the multipurpose gymnasium, which can be used for indoor soccer, handball, racquetball and basketball; students can check out equipment before getting on the courts.
Speaking of courts, Southwest has a total of six full basketball courts for students to run games all day. A place for plenty of opportunities for everyone to get a shot up or to even work on their game. At the Student Rec, only one full court is available that is most often being used. On Mondays, I usually go to Student Rec to play basketball only to realize that someone is either using it for fencing or martial arts. The worst part about it: you would never know until you arrive on the hardwood.
So don’t bother going over to the smaller facility at the Student Rec. Grab your Gator 1 card and go to an actual gym at Southwest, the best in Gainesville.
Brandon Hernandez is a student at the University of Florida studying journalism. He is a writer for The Alligator and for PlugTalkSports. You can find most of his work on his Twitter (BranH2001) and on his podcast, “The Courtside Podcast,” on Spotify.