Colleges With the Nicest Gyms

Get fit at these colleges which boast large fitness facilities

By Ashley Henshaw | October 31, 2013

Photo: Thinkstock

A great college gym can enhance your university experience in a variety of ways. While athletes can make the most of top-notch workout facilities by leading a school to NCAA championship glory, other students can enjoy recreational facilities to stay fit and have fun with friends. A great gym is also a great place for thrilling college matchups in basketball, volleyball and other intramural and club sports. Check out which colleges offer the nicest gyms and recreational facilities for students.

1. University of Pennsylvania

Out of the Ivy Leagues, Penn certainly offers some of the best fitness facilities. Their 19,000-square-foot David Pottruck Health and Fitness Center is four stories high and contains a wide range of amenities for students. Hundreds of cardiovascular, circuit training and stretching machines are scattered throughout the gym floors in specified sections. A massive weight room spans 8,000 square feet on two floors of the facility. There’s even an Olympic-sized pool and a 40-foot climbing wall. If you want a workout that’s more low-key, head to the “quiet floor” (which plays softer music for a relaxing experience) or hit up the golf simulator (which contains 35 virtual U.S. courses).

With four floors of fitness, a giant pool and a climbing wall, what more could you need?

A great gym is also a great place for thrilling college matchups in basketball, volleyball and other intramural and club sports

2. Ohio State University

Ohio State University is certainly known for its athletics, so it’s no surprise that they offer top-notch fitness facilities as well. OSU’s Recreational and Physical Activity Center, better known as RPAC by students, offers a large number of workout equipment and free weights to accommodate its large student body. Plus, students can schedule a massage on-site to ease their tired muscles. Plenty of indoor aquatic facilities are available as well, including a lap pool, a leisure pool (water slide included), a diving pool, a hot tub and two co-ed dry saunas. Courts for racquetball, basketball, tennis and even ping-pong are available at various locations throughout the campus.

3. University of California, Irvine

At UC Irvine, students get access to fitness equipment that’s so advanced, even pro athletes like Kobe Bryant have been known to stop by to use it. The enormous 19,000-square-foot Anteater Recreation Center (known as “ARC” for short) contains facilities for some of the sports and activities that simply aren’t offered at most other schools, like badminton, floor hockey and even sailing. Their Wellness Lab contains state-of-the-art circuit training equipment and cardio machines. For other types of workouts, students can take a dip in the lap pool or take on the 1,100-square foot climbing wall.

Whether you're interested in an abs class, co-ed volleyball or Jiu Jitsu, ARC has something for you.
Photo: Uci.edu

4. University of Texas

Sports are no joke at the University of Texas. In fact, this college boasts eight fitness buildings with a total of 500,000 square feet of indoor recreational space. Spread out through campus, these buildings offer a wide range of facilities for active students, including multiple courts for basketball, racquetball, wallyball, squash, dodgeball, handball and other sports. Indoor and outdoor pools along with a deck space for lounging and a spa can be found at Gregory Gym Aquatic Complex. Meanwhile, Anna Hiss Gym offers space for table tennis, dance classes and even archery. After a tough workout, students can relax in a billiards and games room found at Gregory Gym.

5. University of Missouri

It’s tough to beat the University of Missouri when it comes to their fitness facilities. MizzouRec has been recognized by Sports Illustrated as one of the top college gyms in the country, and for good reason. In addition to all the traditional workout equipment and free weights, students can also play on courts for basketball, volleyball, racquetball, squash and more. Classes are held daily in the fitness studios, and an indoor track makes it easy to get a run in during colder months. There’s also a 35-foot climbing tower for adventurous athletes to explore. The real pride and joy here, however, is the amazing Aquatics Center. This facility contains a competitive swimming pool, a 10-meter diving well, a sauna, a hot tub and even a lazy river. To top it all off, there’s even a spa on-site offering pedicures, manicures and massages.

MizzouRec offers a variety of programs including swim lessons, personal training and wheel chair basketball.

Whether you’re looking to build some muscle, try a new sport or just fight off the “freshman fifteen,” these colleges offer some of the most astounding fitness facilities for students. If you’re considering these schools in your college search, be sure to stop by these great gyms on your campus tour.

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