New upgrades to Seton Hall recreation center are driving Pirates to fitness

When sophomore Alexandra La Fata stepped on Seton Hall’s campus, the University’s fitness center was a small room inside the athletics center. “To be honest, I thought nothing of it as a freshman,” La Fata said. The small space is a thing of the past now for her, and the role that the fitness center plays for La Fata’s life on campus now is not comparable.

Katherine Cahalin/Staff Photographer

There are many others, like her, that have increased their visits to the rec center from four or five times per week to nine or 10 times. The newly renovated space, which is 10 months old, is 12,000 square feet in size, featuring two floors with treadmills, bicycles, weights, classrooms for Yoga and Zumba, and more.

“The usage by our students is ten-fold compared to where it was last year,” Associate Athletics Director/Recreational Services Kathy Matta said. “I’ve never seen numbers like this.” Matta attended Seton Hall University as a student, and, after serving as a graduate student for the university’s athletics department, she accepted a staff position and has worked for Seton Hall athletics for nearly 25 years.

Matta’s office is adjacent to the doors of the fitness center, so she has a front row seat to all of the action.

“Since we opened last January, there have been over 50,000 individual workouts on the treadmills alone,” Matta added. “If we add in the other cardio equipment, it’s another 32,000 visits. Before last year, we were averaging 5,000 individual workouts annually. It’s clear that our students have made an effort to hit the gym.”

For sophomore Steve Magnotta, the improvements in equipment have been the reason why he is spending his weekends in South Orange, N.J., and not Scotch Plains, his hometown.

“I used to go home during the weekends because I could never get a spot on a piece of equipment,” Magnotta said. “To know that I can walk into the rec center and find what I need is part of the reason why I returned to live on campus this year. You just don’t get those facility centers every day to have included in your tuition.”

La Fata said that she and her three roommates in Serra Hall work out together and have become instructors at the fitness center.

“We used to have one or two spin classes per week,” said Brian Poll, the assistant director of Recreational Services. “Now we do 30. The amount of kids that have gotten involved in influencing one another to become more fit is remarkable. Another example of that is that our students are the instructors for yoga, spin and other classes.”

The added facilities have also enabled the athletics staff to add intramural sports. “We’ve seen an additional 50 kids, at the least, for all eight intramural sports that we offer,” Poll said.

“I think that before we were just known as a basketball school,” Magnotta said. “With the additions of our facilities, there’s the opportunities for kids to do more than just play basketball in the gym. I’ve been on a team for soccer, hockey and volleyball. I don’t know how somebody could go without this space.”

When Matta was done looking at her papers, she looked up with a smirk on her face.

“This facility is second-to-none in the wide world of university athletic centers,” she said. “And if you don’t know about it, you’ve been living under a rock.”

John Fanta can be reached at or on twitter @John_Fanta.

Author: John Fanta

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