It’s time to address overcrowding at Plumley Armory gym

When students begin their academic experience at Norwich University, the oldest military college in the nation, many quickly come to the realization that physical fitness will be a significant part of their daily student life. Whether it be exercising with a respected armed service branch, lifting in the gym, or exercising with school athletics, the first thing that students realize is that there is limited space available to meet their physical fitness needs.

There has long been an outcry over the lack of space in the university gym in Plumley Armory. Students are disenchanted and have had enough of the shortage of space and limited equipment in the gym. There are no shortage of opinions on what should be done. For example, some students believe that those belonging to university sports teams should have their own gym space and gym equipment so that other students are not interfering with their workouts. 

Since physical fitness is a major component and or requirement of both the athletic and non-athletic student’s life at Norwich, the university should realize the benefits of providing students with adequate fitness facilities. 

It is clear that the majority of the Norwich University population do some form of exercise to stay physically fit on a daily basis, whether it be athletic teams or ROTC students. As a result, the gym in Plumley Armory on any given day is operating at full capacity. 

That is not the only issue. Many of the students here on campus feel that the gym is lackluster in appearance and is in a desperate need of an upgrade. Also, for a number of years, the Plumley Armory gym has been the only place on campus to lift weights, which creates a shortage of available and lack of adequate space.

It is easy to find students who are unhappy with the conditions of the equipment, the amount of equipment, and the overall size of the gym. Chris Leach,19, a computer science major, from cj, Vt., is one of the many student athletes on campus that feel athletes on the university sports teams should have their own gym on campus.

“The gym just isn’t big enough for all varsity sports team,” says Leach. Also, at times when there are multiple university sports teams using the equipment and space, there is insufficient equipment to work out and waits, which results in areas of the gym being inaccessible to non-athletic students,” says Leach, a Norwich University baseball player. 

Many would agree. With inadequate space and outdated equipment in Plumley Armory, it is a significant problem when there are as many as 20 different varsity sports teams utilizing the gym at any given time throughout the academic year. Referencing the fall semester alone, there are eight teams occupying the gym at any one time.

It’s obvious that the main issues relevant to Plumley Armory gym center on inadequate space, shortage of gym equipment and insufficient time available to accommodate the variety of students and their individual needs. 

Lots of students have ideas how things could be better. Says football quarterback Garrett Chapell, 19, a criminal justice major from Byron, N.Y., “When the gym is at its busiest time during the day, it would be better if the gym were larger with an open floor plan, which would make it easier to move around the gym when it is at or near full capacity. Also, it would be better if there were additional gym equipment that would enable the entire football team and the other additional students in the gym, the capability of completing their workouts in an efficient manner without any inconveniences.” 

With more students entering the school this year, the available space in the gym continues to decrease. 

An obvious remedy for the overcrowding issue would be to open a new gym for the sports teams and Plumley gym for the corps. Additionally, the purchase of new and updated equipment would also prove to be beneficial in meeting the needs of the vast amount of students who utilize the existing outdated equipment. 

Says Jacob Snow, 19, a physics major from Richmond, Va.: “President Schneider is advocating for additional funding to improve academic buildings; however, due to the increased population and advent of the largest freshman class, the improvement of the Plumley Armory gym should be considered a priority as well.” 

Ideas to address the workout crunch abound. How about relocating the Naval Department to another building which could free up some additional space for the gym, enabling it to increase its capacity. Leach likes that idea and also constructing another area in Andrews Hall to create another gym for athletes. 

There is little disagreement on campus that Plumley Armory gym fails to adequately meet the needs of the majority of Norwich’s student athletes and those engaged in the various military ROTC branches. Both have rigorous physical education requirements which require an adequate recreational facility. Based on this fact alone, combined with its diminished size, outdated equipment and overcrowding issues, the Plumley Armory gym at Norwich’s is in dire need of improvements to meet and satisfy the varying requirements of a diverse student population with a variety of physical fitness goals.



  1. Robert Kuckuk says:

    I’d like to provide an opposing viewpoint to the article written by Cadet Conner Guzda that appeared in the October 29th edition of The Norwich Guidon. The premise of the article “It’s time to address overcrowding at Plumley Armory Gym” argues the current fitness facility “lacks adequate space, has a shortage of equipment and insufficient time available to accommodate the variety of students and their individual needs”.
    I disagree.
    I believe I can speak to this issue with a fair amount of expertise. First, I work in Plumley. I’m here almost all the time. From 0600 to 1600 every week day the gym facility (free weights, cardio room and weight machines) are nearly empty. The facility is crowded when the football team comes to workout. However, those times are advertised well in advance, and it’s only the free weight room. In my 2+ years at Norwich I’ve never had to wait to use a piece of cardio equipment. The gym at Plumley is crowded for 1 hour a day…weekdays…sometimes. The rest of the time there is plenty of space available.
    Regarding the shortage of gym equipment, I think we should consider why we have a gym in the first place. If you asked my opinion (which I know you didn’t…but I’m a Colonel and I’m going to give it to you anyway) I’d tell you, primarily, we need a gym to support the training programs for our sports teams, secondarily, to support overall health and fitness of the student body and the faculty. But we don’t need a gym for the Corps of Cadets. There isn’t a piece of equipment in the gym that will enable anyone on the Corps or ROTC to pass their PT test. Sit-ups, Push-ups, Crunches, and running various distances are all that’s expected. No equipment in the gym will help you do more sit-ups…you just have to do a lot of sit-ups. Ask a Navy SEAL. That organization prides itself on maintaining peak fitness using only their body as weight; push-ups, pull-ups, Crunches…weights and equipment is nice…but not required. Ask anyone who has spent time on a ship in the Navy.
    I don’t want to confuse “enough equipment” or “updated/modern equipment” with equipment that’s clean and in good repair. I agree the equipment must be kept clean (everyone’s responsibility) and in good repair (the schools responsibility, but the user must say something if the gear isn’t working right).
    Lastly, consider this: The gym facility in Plumley Armory is only one piece of a larger fitness complex found all around our campus. Sure, a cardio room is nice in winter, but we also have two indoor tracks and an indoor swimming pool. We have Sabine field with a track and stairs for running when conditions permit. You can get a great cardio workout running up/down Payne Mt. in running gear, boots and ‘utes or snow shoes (available for FREE at the Shaw center). We have an O-Course (unheard of for a college campus). The Shaw center has mountain bikes too, and Payne has the trails to ride. Shapiro has a rock wall. If Plumley is crowded then go get a good workout someplace else at any one of a number of good locations around campus. If you can’t sort that out then Google “MARSOC short card”, print it out and do that 3 times in a row. No weights, no machines, no equipment needed. You can do it inside or outside. I promise you’ll be sore the next day.
    If all that isn’t enough, come do pull-ups outside my office. But for goodness sake don’t spend a dime on a separate facility “exclusively for the sports teams”. We need less separation between groups of our student body, not more. See you in the gym anytime beside 1600-1800…there is plenty of room and open equipment outside those hours.

    Col Robert Kuckuk
    Professor of Naval Science-Norwich University

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