ARC Expansion Reinforces Inclusive Mission

Karina Montoya poses with a staionary bicycle.
The author: Karina Montoya, a senior majoring in communication, says she is “glad that incoming students will get to get the full workout experience, one free of judgment and full of options to stay fit.” (Karin Higgins/UC Davis)

As a community, UC Davis is big on student health and fitness — half of all students bike to campus at least once a week, and dozens of teams compete at the NCAA and sport club levels.

The campus hub for fitness is the newly renovated Activities and Recreation Center, or ARC. The gym went through major changes during a recent 20-month renovation. It was worth all the wait: The space feels new and is equipped with the latest in training technology, including some equipment that is unique to UC Davis.


As a fourth-year I have made great use of the gym, going nearly every day. As I have spent more time there, I have learned to appreciate the time and energy that goes into maintaining a gym. The new remodel incorporates great layout design and an array of workout options that gives all students the ability to become more active.

Recently I tried out one of the ARC’s group cycling classes. As soon as I walked in to the group exercise room, I felt the adrenaline run through my body. The course and instructor mirrored that of cycling courses I had taken outside of campus. Although offered at a third of the price of many private classes, the hourlong workout did its job. The instructor had us motivated and dripping in sweat — it was exactly what I want from any exercise activity.

Racks of weights in the ARC.
The ARC gained more squat racks in its recent renovation. (Gregory Urquiaga/UC Davis)

There was no judgment in the room. In a class of about eight cyclists, everyone embraced one another with open arms. This was something I hardly ever experienced in outside classes, where newbies were not always welcomed. The instructor remained full of pep and warmth all throughout the hourlong class. She was motivating yet understanding of others’ limitations and tailored the class intensity to make sure we were all comfortable.

Phrases like “you can do it — you’re almost there” and “grab a drink of water and reduce your speed if you need to” felt reassuring. We were not professional cyclers, and the group class was a first for some of the attendees. But that never interfered with how the instructor treated us, and her energy made me want to go back for one more round.

The class embodied Campus Recreation’s “Come as You Are” initiative, in which everyone is accepted into the community instead of being shunned for inexperience or inability. The variety of courses now offered at the gym encourage students to try new forms of exercise.

ARC gained space, equipment, more

The interior of the newly renovated ARC.
The main lobby area of the ARC gained a second floor balcony in the renovation. The new second floor space holds cardio equipment. (Gregory Urquiaga/UC Davis)

Some other changes are to be noted about the “new” ARC: The entire atmosphere of the space has changed. Once crowded and condensed, the new design has opened the floor plan by adding 20,000 square feet of space. This offers students more space to work out on their own terms. Students looking to lift weights and build strength can use the new equipment spread all across the first floor. The addition of a new sled push — a weighted obstacle that slides along the floor — has been my personal favorite.

Renovations to the ARC are not just limited to equipment. There have been other additions that allow students to have a relaxing experience at the gym. New day lockers have been added all throughout the first and second floors, offering students the ability to lock away their valuables for free. Frequent gym-goers have the option to rent out a monthly locker to keep their belongings. It has been these small changes that have made the ARC that much better than before. Reiterating their “Come as You Are” initiative, the UC Davis ARC makes everyone feel welcomed, no matter their ability. Health is their main priority.

The renovation wasn’t the end of improvements to the gym. The indoor basketball courts have recently been refloored, and an outside exercise yard is being built. The ARC has been my second home for the past four years. I go in and exercise every day and try to make the most out of the space while I still can. As a graduating senior, I am glad that incoming students will get to get the full workout experience, one free of judgment and full of options to stay fit. My love for fitness continues to grow, and I have the ARC to thank for that.

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