Club Pulse, campus gym, to close as Goldsmiths plans on-campus expansion.
Goldsmiths is planning to expand into Club Pulse’s space on campus to create more learning and teaching facilities. Currently, Goldsmiths holds a total of 150 teaching spaces across campus according to the Goldsmiths website.
“After considerable reflection we have decided to end our partnership with Pulse gyms,” said spokesperson from Goldsmiths. “We want to explore how this building could better serve our students and the university as a space for teaching and learning.”
The closure of Club Pulse would mean students would lose access to a convenient, affordable gym close to campus.
Goldsmiths commented that they invest over half a million pounds into wellbeing services each year, and ‘understand’ that regular users of the gym will be ‘disappointed’.
The spokesperson said: “There are a number of alternative gyms in the local area: Pure Gym, Meridian, and The Gym are all close to campus and offer good value memberships for less than £20 per month.”
However, excluding Club Pulse, the most convenient gyms for Goldsmiths students are Wavelengths and PureGym. Membership at Wavelengths costs almost £40 a month, and PureGym membership starts at £20.99 (normal membership, excluding joining fees). Both gyms are located in Deptford, within 15-20 minutes walking distance of the college.
While cheaper gyms are available such as Meridian in Greenwich, and The Gym London in Lewisham, they are much further away. These gyms are both under £20 a month and within 20-25 minutes by foot away from campus.
A yearly membership at Club Pulse, in contrast, allowed students the luxury of paying just £15.75 a month (on a yearly membership) for easy on-campus access, a maximum of 10 minutes’ walk from any teaching space at Goldsmiths.
Without Club Pulse, students at Goldsmiths will lose access to an amenity other leading London universities have. For example, King’s College London and Imperial College London are located within a 2-minute walk to a university-affiliated gym, with further intercity access to other university-affiliated gyms. These amenities also come to students at relatively cheap prices. Most are priced similarly to Club Pulse, with only two — Greenwich University and LSE — falling below £100 per year for students.
Gym access is vital to students and has shown to significantly contribute to mental and physical wellbeing. Mind.org has conducted studies showing that physical activity leads to better overall health through better sleep, stress management, better self-esteem and overall, reduces the risk of depression.
The European Commission found that 24% of young adults (15-24) engage in physical activity if there is a gym available to them their place of education, with a further 22% engaging if the sport facilities are available at a fitness centre. It also concluded that in total, 43% of students are part of a fitness club. At Goldsmiths, according to the spokesperson, there were over 1000 students using these facilities.
Students have expressed their frustration with the university’s decision. A post on Crushsmiths said: “Can the university please explain why its closing down the gym except for a vague email. Going there has been so helpful for my mental health at uni. Thanks a lot Goldsmiths…”
Some students believe that the closure of the gym is due to the university’s drive to cut costs, with a response to the Crushsmiths post saying: “Gym costs a lot in terms of upkeep. Goldsmiths is massively in the red right now as well and so funding needs to be cut anywhere they can’t make money.”
However, restructuring the gym could potentially mean allocating more costs to the restructuring of the space to suit a teaching facility. This would likely not be cheap for the institution.
The Department Representative Annual Project of 2018, in fact, recommended that Goldsmiths consider off-campus expansion, with 50% of students reporting that they would use off-campus learning facilities if they were available.
Goldsmiths applied this strategy in 2016 when it needed more space for the MFA Fine Arts programme. The course was moved from Laurie Grove Baths to the former gym and fitness buildings of Lewisham Southwark College (situated in between Deptford Creek and Deptford Bridge). This space accommodated roughly 25% of the entire Goldsmiths Art Department, and allowed Goldsmiths to repurpose former practice-led studio space as a new public art institution.
While the development of new learning and teaching spaces is exciting for the university, within a campus facing space constraints, it seems irresponsible to disregard more off-campus options by stripping students of a way to improve their wellbeing. This is especially the case as, most gyms within 2 miles are not nearly as affordable or convenient as Club Pulse.