Former University of Exeter Chair of Council, Russell Seal, OBE attended the launch.

Russell Seal Fitness Centre unveiled

For the past 18 months, the University of Exeter’s prestigious Sports Park, on Streatham Campus, has been a hive of activity. An investment of £8.1million has seen a dramatic change to the complex with a myriad of new facilities designed to change the face of sport and fitness at the University forever.

On 5 September, the centre piece of the project was unveiled for the first time.  Guests, including staff and alumni, attended the launch of the purpose-built Russell Seal Fitness Centre, which represents a £6.5million investment in health and fitness, as the University continues its mission to make exercise as accessible and enjoyable as possible for students and members of the wider community.  The new sports facility, which opens its doors on 9 September, houses over 200 pieces of the latest Life Fitness™ equipment, a fitness studio and onsite changing facilities which are set to benefit the students and the wider community. 

“Our aim throughout this project has been to bring a world class training facility to the city of Exeter and I truly believe this is something that we have achieved.  Walking into the facility for the first time it is the sheer scale that impresses.” commented Director of Sport, Phil Attwell.

The two storey building has been newly constructed with an airy reception, mirrored fitness studio, dedicated free weights room and large cardio training area designed to create a welcoming and motivational environment for all gym users. Meanwhile, the practicalities of on-site parking, changing rooms, complete with lockers and showering facilities are available.

Over half a million pounds has been invested in equipment alone with features like Synrgy 360™, an innovative multi-station exercise machine and Trixter exercise bikes, which offer fully functioning handle bars and immersive video trials where users control an on-screen avatar.  Interactive training programmes including LifeScape, an augmented reality training programme that let you run, walk and ride routes from around the world.  Also, Life Fitness high-definition touch screen Discover tablets will allow users to watch videos, listen to music, surf the internet and link up with the Life Fitness app to plan workouts and track their progress.

Phil Attwell added:The technological advancement in fitness equipment over the last few years has been immense, so we decided to go with entirely new equipment throughout the centre to provide the best all round experience. Our experience has shown us that different people have very different needs in the gym and we wanted to offer something for all types of user, to keep them motivated and happy.  Every week thousands of students and local people from in and around Exeter come and enjoy the Sports Parks facilities, whilst we also work closely with local schools, sports teams and national governing bodies to provide as many opportunities as possible. The new Russell Seal Fitness Centre is no exception and whilst students will make up a large proportion of our customer base, we are always pleased to welcome members from the local area to come and experience it too.”

Former University of Exeter Chair of Council, Russell Seal, OBE, after whom the facility has been named explained his enjoyment in being involved in such an extensive project.  In his opening speech he said: “I remember the first discussions about the development where we enthusiastically drew out the plan for an £8.1million investment in sport. Sport here is a tremendous success and it has been fantastic to work with an outstanding Director of Sport and a succession of Athletic Union presidents, who have shown maturity beyond their years.”

The opening of the centre marks the completion of a major overhaul at the Sports Park. Since the development project began in 2012 the site has also seen six outdoor tennis / netball courts permanently covered, a new hockey pavilion erected and a new Multi-Use-Games area constructed.

Kier Construction have overseen have been development and implementation of the entire project. Anthony Irving, Kier regional managing director, said: “The Sports Park project has been an excellent example of client and contractor collaboration. Phase 1, to build the tensile roof over the tennis courts, a new hockey pavilion and MUGA, was a particularly challenging site with difficult access, which also had to be maintained throughout the build for continuous use by a very busy campus.

“Thanks to some fantastic teamwork we have been able to hand over Phase 2, the Russell Seal Fitness Centre, three weeks early. It has been a pleasure to have worked on a project that will have such beneficial impact for sport and fitness at the university and in the wider community.”

Membership for the new facility is available to purchase on the Sports Office website, where a free online induction can also be completed.

Date: 6 September 2013