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50 Great College Gymnasiums and Recreation Centers for 2019

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GVC-Best GymnasiumsBy GVC Staff
January 2019

Did you know that 70% of students gain weight during college? And did you also know that students who work out get better grades? This means that the gym is an all-important college resource, and not just for those studying sports degrees. Whether you want to stay slim or build muscle, finding a college with good exercise facilities is essential! This article is going to show you which colleges have the best gyms in the USA.

When it comes to colleges with gyms, then there are many across America to choose from. In fact, almost all colleges will have areas for their students to work out in. But not all gyms are created equal. Some college gyms are filled with aging equipment and are in buildings that desperately need work. And at the end of the day, going to a college with a great gym could also mean that you save lots of money. Gym memberships can be pricey, but college gyms are either free or discounted to students.

This article takes a look at what other sources consider to be the best college gyms in America and sorts them into a definitive ranking. All of the existing lists contradict one another. So this article finds the entries that are most recommended by the lists online and proves that their recommendations are worthwhile. On top of those other article recommendations, this list contains extensive research that reveals which colleges have had the most recent gym updates and what other resources exist in colleges to complement the gyms featured.

Any one of the gyms listed below is a great training space. But it’s also possible that none of the selections is right for you. If that’s the case, then this list is still useful. You can use it to compare the gym facilities at your college selections, or even convince your college to invest in the resources that these other institutions have implemented.

Methodology

The articles that formed the basis of this list’s research are all from respected publications. We’ve consulted websites that specialize in education or fitness and which have a range of ranking criteria.

The publications are as follows:

Lendedu, Top 10 College Campus Gyms: https://lendedu.com/blog/top-10-college-campus-gyms/

College Magazine, The 10 Best College Gyms and Student Rec Centers in the Nation: https://www.collegemagazine.com/10-best-college-gyms-fitness-goals/

MSN/The Active Times, America’s 11 Best College Gyms: https://www.msn.com/en-us/health/fitness/america%E2%80%99s-11-best-college-gyms/ss-BBmd90x

Men’s Health, The Coolest College Recreation Centers in America: https://www.menshealth.com/fitness/g19539410/coolest-college-rec-centers/

College Raptor, 16 College Rec Centers So Awesome They Will Make you Want to Work Out: https://www.collegeraptor.com/find-colleges/articles/student-life/16-college-rec-centers-so-awesome-they-will-make-you-want-to-work-out/

Lifehack, 12 Awesome American College Gyms Everyone Envies: https://www.lifehack.org/articles/lifestyle/12-awesome-american-college-gyms-everyone-envies.html

Her Campus, The 10 Most Awesome College Gyms: https://www.hercampus.com/health/fitness/10-most-awesome-college-gyms

College Outside, Ranked: The Swankiest (and Jankiest) College Climbing Gyms: https://www.collegeoutside.com/ranked-swankiest-jankiest-college-climbing-gyms/

Campus Explorer, Colleges with the Nicest Gyms: https://www.campusexplorer.com/college-advice-tips/59847B64/Colleges-With-the-Nicest-Gyms/

Fast Company, A Look Inside The Most Insane College Gyms: https://www.fastcompany.com/3034535/a-look-inside-the-most-insane-college-gyms

University Primetime, 20 Most Impressive College Gyms and Student Rec Centers: https://www.universityprimetime.com/20-impressive-college-gyms-student-rec-centers/

Plexuss, Best College Rec Centers in America: https://plexuss.com/news/article/best-college-rec-centers-college-gyms

Active.com, 20 Best Colleges for Fitness Fanatics: https://www.active.com/fitness/articles/20-best-colleges-for-fitness-fanatics

College Consensus, 50 Best Campus Recreation Centers: https://www.collegeconsensus.com/rankings/best-college-rec-centers/

After finding the most consistently ranked colleges on the above lists, we’ve looked into any recent updates and additional facilities that the college offers. Our final list has been prioritized due to the following criteria: combined list ranking, evidence of commitment to future upgrades, evidence of supplementary facilities (such as outdoor spaces) and evidence of innovation.

Our results are below:

50. University of Akron

Website

This Ohio based college offers students four acres of multipurpose grass fields and has the indoor gym facilities to match! Gyms are housed in two buildings, The Student Recreation and Wellness Center and The Central-Hower. The main recreation center has a leisure pool with a lazy river, a 30 person hot tub, a 1/10 mile track, 250 pieces of cardio and strength building equipment, a 53-foot climbing wall and more. If this weren’t good enough, it also has the Ocasek Natatorium, which houses an Olympic size swimming pool. College Consensus considers the University of Akron to have the 47th best recreational facilities in America. University Primetime ranks it at 17th.

49. Vanderbilt University

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This Nashville, Tennessee based college recently undertook a major renovation of its indoor gym and recreation spaces. It now offers students access to almost 300,000 square feet of exercise space. In these areas are a 29-foot high climbing wall, four-lane bowling alley, three basketball courts and a fitness room filled with weight machines, rowing machines, treadmills and much more. Outside, students can compete on three grass fields and one artificial turf field. To top it all off, there is also a multipurpose indoor pool that has a constant temperature of 82 degrees. For these reasons, College Consensus names Vanderbilt University as having the sixth best recreation facilities in America.

48. Indiana State University

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In 2009, Indiana State University’s recreation center opened at a cost of $21 million. The 109,450 square foot building brought a three-court gymnasium, an extensive natatorium, a fitness center, a cycling room, a walking/jogging track, multipurpose activity studios, a juice bar and much more. And in 2018, another of the college’s recreational facilities underwent a major renovation. The college’s HHS Arena closed to upgrade its gym, basketball courts, and running area. College Consensus places Indiana State University at 49th on its list. College Raptor ranks it at 11th.

47. University of North Texas

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College Outside is wowed by the University of North Texas’s climbing gym. The source notes that the college gym’s lightness gives the impression of being outside and ranks it at fifth on its list. This climbing gym is just one part of the 138,000 square foot Pohl Recreation Center facility. Also to be found in this building are over 100 pieces of cardio and weight equipment, exercise classes, a lap and leisure pool and a 29 person spa. The University of North Texas is even making room for Esports events, showing that it really does cater to all tastes!

46. University of South Florida

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As the University of South Florida has one of the largest student bodies in America, it also has some of the largest recreational facilities, and it’s constantly expanding these! Its main recreation center recently expanded to over 180,000 square feet. This building is packed with state of the art equipment and sports courts. However, the college has many more fitness opportunities. It has two satellite facilities which provide a combined additional 31,280 square feet of rowing machines, stair climbers, treadmills, pools and much more. College Consensus ranks it at 34th and University Primetime ranks it at 20th for college recreation centers.

45. Georgetown University

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Georgetown University’s mission is to educate “the whole person.” Naturally, a strong part of that involves improving a student’s physical health. For that reason, the college has incredible fitness and recreational facilities. Some of the most impressive features on offer are a 25 yard indoor pool with a separate diving well, a cardio fitness area outfitted with televisions, a golf facility with two hitting areas and a putting green, four wooden basketball courts, two racquetball courts, five squash courts, a stretching area, four indoor tennis courts, and a 200 meter track. And this is just scratching the surface of its recreational offerings! For this reason, Active names Georgetown University the fifth best college for fitness fanatics.

44. University of Massachusetts, Amherst

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Ranking at 23rd on College Consensus and 13th on University Primetime is University of Massachusetts, Amherst. This college offers its students a range of facilities, with the most impressive being its Primary Recreation Center. This center opened in 2009 and has a 20,300 square foot gym, 21,000 square feet of cardio and weight machines, a 5,300-foot jogging track, 8,000 feet of activity rooms and much more. Its total cost was $50 million. University of Massachusetts, Amherst also offers multiple pools, a second gym, handball and squash courts, and tennis courts.

43. Rochester Institute of Technology

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Rochester Institute of Technology has creatively renovated one of its oldest buildings to provide a unique gym for students. Its Red Barn is exactly what it sounds like, an old barn, but it’s also been converted into a bouldering facility. College Outside ranks this structure at fourth place on its list. On top of this unique attraction, Rochester Institute of Technology also has the Gordon Field House and Activities Center, which provides 160,000 square feet of fitness space; the Hale Andrews Student Life Center, which provides 88,000 square feet of courts, fitness rooms, jogging tracks and more; the Judson/Hale Aquatics Center; the Weidman Fitness Center, which is 16,000 square feet; the George H.Clark Gymnasium; and the Frank Ritter Ice Arena.

42. University of South Dakota

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There’s a forty point difference between the two sources that rank University of South Dakota’s gym. College Consensus places it at 44th and notes that the students report being incredibly pleased with its facilities. Men’s Health has a much higher opinion, placing it at fourth and praises its “biggest loser” student weight loss competition. And the University of South Dakota is filled with success stories from students who rave about the quality of the recreational services available. Abby Yeska, for instance, states that “By adding more group fitness classes and other events for students to attend each year, it has become a place where all students can find something they enjoy.”

41. University of Michigan

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The University of Michigan has put a lot of effort into improving its gym and recreational facilities. In 2016 and 2018, the college completed two major renovations of its recreation centers. The first of these was was for its Intramural Sports Building, which had a 17-month long refurbishment. The update added “200 pieces of cardio and strength equipment, group fitness and personal training spaces, racquetball courts, locker rooms, and spacious new lounges.” In 2018, the college completed a 16-month renovation of its North Campus Recreation Building, adding wide open strength and stretch spaces, an updated pool, new gym courts, ADA accessible locker rooms and more. But the University of Michigan isn’t done with its recreation refurbishment. In September 2018, the college announced that it will renovate its Central Campus Recreation Building. This update will cost $150 million and will begin in 2021. Active names University of Michigan the fourth best college for fitness fanatics.

40. Saint Mary’s College of California

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California is a state filled with incredible gyms and recreation facilities. However, the recreation center at Saint Mary’s College of California stands out for a number of reasons. College Consensus considers it to have the 15th best recreation center of any American college. Plexuss places it at 11th. Some of the more unique offerings of Saint Mary’s College of California include a hydrotherapy spa and intensive hikes through the California countryside. This is, of course, in addition to state of the art exercise equipment, swimming pools and multipurpose gyms.

39. Colby College

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Colby College is making the most of its rural Maine location in terms of campus fitness. It organizes skiing on the nearby Sugarloaf Mountain and has natural grass and artificial grass fields. Right now, Colby College only ranks on one methodology list, College Consensus’s, at third place. However, in the future, it’s sure to rank much higher on other lists. This is because it is currently constructing a state of the art indoors athletic complex. When it opens in 2020, it will offer the only Olympic Myrtha pool in New England, house a state of the art squash competition center, have a 200-meter track and much more.

38. Cornell University

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College Outside states that Cornell University’s gym has “a clean, professional feel.” The source also ranks its climbing wall as the third best in a college in America. And when it comes to recreation in general, Cornell University has something that few other colleges offer: a full-size bowling center. It comes equipped with 16 lanes, arcade games, and personalized service. For those looking for the more classic gym experience, then it also has fitness centers and recreation centers with pools, courts, dance studios and more.

37. University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill

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When it comes to indoor exercise facilities, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill has a great selection. It has seven different buildings dedicated to indoor exercise. These include four recreation, fitness and training centers, an Olympic length pool, a gym, and a sports hall. Outdoors offerings include an education center, a pool, sports fields, and three recreation areas. All of these facilities are filled with exercise equipment and sporting facilities. For these reasons and more Active names University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill the third best college for fitness fanatics.

36. University of Maryland

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Students can be sure that they’ll be able to enjoy the facilities on offer at the University of Maryland’s gym. That’s because, as Men’s Health reports, the general public is not allowed to use its facilities, unlike many other college gyms. Overall, the source names it America’s third-best gym. The University of Maryland lists 19 different recreation facilities as being available for students. These range from the more typical exercise centers to the more unique installations, such as the artificial La Plata Beach, which has sand, water, and turf on offer for students to exercise upon.

35. University of Oregon

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The climbing wall at the University of Oregon is incredibly popular. In fact, College Outside names it the second best climbing gym in a college in America. But the University of Oregon has much more to offer its students than just one climbing wall. It also boasts 23 courts and gymnasiums; over 36,000 square feet of cardio and strength training space; a 25 yard, a 12 lane swimming pool; 12 tennis courts; over 500 weight training machines; and much more. The gym facilities are state of the art, as the college undertook a major expansion of its rec center in 2015.

34. University of Miami

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College Consensus considers the University of Miami to have the 10th best recreation center in a US college. Active considers the college to be the 19th best for fitness fanatics. And while University of Miami’s recreation center is one of the oldest on this list, being open since 1996, it’s standing the test of time well and has been updated. The Herbert Wellness Center was originally 114,000 square feet of indoors and 35,000 of outdoors space. However, in 2008, a major expansion led to the addition of another 20,000 feet of indoor facilities. This area has everything a student could need to keep healthy.

33. James Madison University

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The recreation department at James Madison University has lots of evidence to prove that it enhances students’ well-being. For instance, three student employees of the recreation department were awarded leadership awards at the 2018 NIRSA national awards ceremony. James Madison University’s primary recreation facility has been open since 1996, and it has advanced considerably over the last 22 years. The largest advancement in its history was completed in Fall 2016, which almost doubled its size from 140,700 square feet to 278,515 square feet. James Madison University ranks at second place on Active’s list of the best colleges for fitness fanatics.

32. University of Idaho

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University Primetime names the University of Idaho as having the 20th most impressive gym in America. College Outside ranks it at ninth, stating that its 6,000 square feet climbing gym is incredible. However, the University of Idaho also offers many more engaging fitness facilities. For instance, in the Student Recreation Center people can access a Frisbee/disc golf course, tennis courts, and sports fields. It also uses this space to run wellness programs through a range of activities. These include Pilates, yoga, cycling, Zumba and more.

31. University of California, Los Angeles

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Active ranks University of California, Los Angeles as the 11th best college for fitness fanatics. As well as having incredible gym facilities, the source is impressed with the college’s mobile fitness program, which allows students to access 15 to 30-minute workouts from anywhere. UCLA also ranks at 19th on University Primetime’s list and fourth on College Consensus’s list. Overall, the college has 16 buildings dedicated to recreational and athletic activities. This is made up of fitness centers, challenge courses, aquatic centers, rock walls, swimming pools and much more.

30. University of Texas – Rio Grande Valley

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The University of Texas – Rio Grande Valley (formerly known as The University of Texas-Pan American) has Plexuss’s sixth-best college recreation center in America. It also ranks at 12th on University Primetime’s list and 31st on College Consensus’s list. University of Texas – Rio Grande Valley has two campuses with exceptional recreational facilities. The most impressive is the 144,000 square foot recreation building on its Edinburg campus, which features “a 35-foot climbing wall, two indoor basketball courts, Multipurpose Activity Court, three racquetball courts, two studios, indoor track (1/10th mile), with two fitness floors.” It also has a wide range of outdoor facilities.

29. University of Colorado, Boulder

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Aptly, for a college with “boulder” in its name, College Outside ranks the University of Colorado, Boulder as having the sixth best college gym for rock climbing. Active states that University of Colorado, Boulder is the 10th best college for fitness fanatics. And College Consensus places it at 21st. It’s not hard to see why the sources rank it highly. The college’s primary exercise center offers “over 300,000 square feet of recreation and fitness activity space.” However, University of Colorado, Boulder also has four artificial sports fields, five grass sports fields, the Williams Village Rec Center, an outdoor challenge course, and four lighted outdoor basketball courts.

28. University of South Carolina

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Lifehack notes that the University of South Carolina is a basketball fan’s paradise. This is because its gym has five full indoor basketball courts. Overall, the source names it the 12th best college gym in America. Her Campus places it at ninth. And College Consensus places it at 19th. However, the amount of space that the University of South Carolina has dedicated to its gyms and fitness facilities is staggering. Over 400,000 square feet is taken up by the Strom Thurmond Wellness and Fitness Center, Solomon Blatt Physical Education Center, tennis courts, three swimming pools, a climbing wall and a bike shop (which offers free repairs for students!)

27. Rice University

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Rice University makes the top five of one methodology list, with College Consensus placing it at fifth. College Raptor is less generous, placing the college at 15th. The main base of operations for exercise activity at Rice University is the Barbara and David Gibbs Recreation and Wellness Center. This building houses over 9,000 square feet of weight and cardio equipment, a 50-meter pool, 11 unique fitness and wellness programs, and a 2,400 square foot recreational pool. It also organizes more than 30 outdoor trips every year.

26. California State University, Long Beach

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California is known as a state of fitness fanatics. Many of its colleges cater to this perception. For instance, Lendedu notes that at 120,000 square feet, California State University, Long Beach has a comparatively small fitness center for its location. However, the source also notes that this space is award-winning. College Consensus places it at 26th. University Primetime also features this college’s gym at seventh. The college’s recreation space includes “a three court gym, a multi-activity court gym, indoor jogging track, 20,000 square feet of weight and cardio equipment, racquetball courts, activity rooms for group exercise, a custom made rock climbing wall, a wellness center, swimming pool, and spa, as well as many other services.”

25. California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo

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Men’s Health considers California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo to have the ninth coolest college recreation area in America. It came to this conclusion due to its unique fitness classes which combine a range of techniques, such as martial arts and yoga. Lifehack ranks the college’s gym at sixth best in America. In fact, California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo has 165,000 square feet of recreational space that is filled with top of the range equipment. Within this space are four large gyms, which all have basketball and/or volleyball courts.

24. Wabash College

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This Indiana based college secures two seventh-place rankings on the methodology lists. College Consensus includes it due to the evidence of the college spending vast sums of its wealth on its fitness facilities. Men’s Health includes it due to its wellness incentive program, which rewards students with gifts for exercising. When discussing its exercise facilities, Wabash College’s website states that “there’s plenty of room for heavy lifters and stair climbers […] A combination of Cybex and Hammer Strength equipment, as well as free weights and aerobic fitness equipment, allows each user to tailor a workout to their specific needs.”

23. University of Denver

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Her Campus places University of Denver at sixth on its list of the best college gyms, noting that its ice rinks make it stand out. Lifehack ranks the college at seventh. However, further research shows that many other methodology lists should have featured the college. Just one reason for this is that the managers of the University of Denver’s recreation center are always trying new things and updating its facilities. For instance, in November 2018, the college began running hip-hop fitness classes and installed Olympic weightlifting racks.

22. Virginia Commonwealth University

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University Primetime highly recommends Virginia Commonwealth University’s gym, naming it the second best in America. However, only two other sources feature it. Lendedu places it in its unnumbered top 10, praising its indoor turf facilities. And College Consensus places it at 42nd, praising its aquatic center. Virginia Commonwealth University has five buildings dedicated to recreation and exercise. These include the 18,000 square foot Cary Street Gym, which also features two pools and a spa; and the 7,500 square foot MCV Campus Recreation Center, which also has a pool, water basketball facilities, and a spa.

21. University of Alabama

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Fast Company interviews George Brown, who is in charge of the University of Alabama’s recreation efforts, and discovers that his approach is broad and innovative. He states that he realizes the current generation of college students enjoy change and multitasking. This realization has resulted in facilities that are ranked at 10th on Lifehack, 15th on University Primetime and 34th on College Consensus. In fact, one of the University of Alabama’s recreation center’s core values is to be innovative and remain relevant. This can be seen in its ongoing expansions. For example, the college is currently upgrading its Aquatic Center by expanding its diving area, adding locker rooms, deck lighting and much more.

20. Purdue University

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This college placed 12th on College Raptor and College Consensus, 11th place on Lifehack and is featured on Fast Company. However, as Purdue University has spent almost $100 million on its recreation centers in recent years, it’s actually a shame that it only features on these four sources. But further research reveals that the college’s hub of activities has a lot to be pleased about. For instance, it has six gyms that take up a combined 89,811 square feet. If this weren’t good enough, then full-time students who are enrolled at Purdue University don’t need to pay anything on top of their tuition to enjoy these gyms and other recreation facilities.

19. University of Cincinnati

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College Magazine places the University of Cincinnati at second for best college gyms, being the source that is the most impressed with the college’s primary recreation center. It interviews current students, who state things like “The building itself makes you feel as though you’re walking through what the next century of fitness centers will look [like.]” Other methodology sources to feature the college include MSN at eighth, College Consensus at 37th, College Raptor at 13th and Lendedu in its unnumbered top 10 list. The University of Cincinnati offers two different recreation centers to students. The larger has over 200,000 square feet of facilities, including a 50-meter by 23-meter pool with diving boards, six badminton courts, over 100 cardiovascular machines, a 40′ by 28′ climbing wall and much more. The smaller building offers a still impressive 12,000 square feet of space, which includes saunas, treadmills and a wide range of other top of the line equipment.

18. Stanford University

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While most methodology lists neglect to feature Stanford University, College Outside states that it has the swankiest climbing gyms in the country. Active also ranks Stanford as the 15th best college for fitness fanatics. Stanford University boasts six different centers and an outdoor court dedicated to exercise. It’s also making efforts to give everyone a chance to enjoy its facilities. For instance, it recently opened an all gender locker room which includes a shower that is ADA compliant. The college plans to open more of these inclusive locker rooms in the future.

17. University of Chicago

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College Consensus ranks the University of Chicago as having the best recreation center in America. However, the only other source to feature the college is University Primetime, which ranks the college at 14th place. The main hub of the University of Chicago’s exercise activities is the Gerald Ratner Athletics Center. This building offers 150,000 square feet of activities, including a 50-meter by 23-meter pool, a fitness center, a dance studio, an auxiliary gym, lockers, and many other things. It cost $51 million to construct.

16. Northwestern University

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Lifehack, Her Campus and Lendedu feature Northwestern University on their lists due to the quality of its gym classes more than its equipment. The sources place the college at ninth, 10th and in its unnumbered list respectively. And while all three sources state that the college’s gym equipment isn’t up to the standard of some of the other colleges on this list, another redeeming feature is that the recreation center and its facilities are free for all students, full-time and part-time, unlike many other colleges in America.

15. Drexel University

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Both Active and College Magazine place Drexel University at seventh place on their lists. College Magazine in particular highlights the friendly and lively atmosphere of the gym as a major selling point. University Primetime places it at ninth, and College Consensus places it at 32nd. Drexel University itself is incredibly proud of the fact that the Philadelphia Inquirer has named its recreation center at Philadelphia’s best gym. It won this honor due to having “120 pieces of cardiovascular equipment, over 300 pieces of strength equipment,” and other equipment across 18,000 square feet.

14. University of Minnesota

School Profile

Lifehack names the University of Minnesota as having the greatest gym of any college in America. The source is impressed with both the design of the building and the quality of its hardwood floors. Other sources that rank this college’s gym and recreation facilities are MSN at ninth place, College Raptor at 16th place, Active at 18th place and College Consensus at 21st place. And University of Minnesota’s gym and recreational facilities help students in more ways than only their physical well-being. For instance, the recreation department is the largest employer of students at the college. In fact, it pays students over $2 million per year in wages.

13. Georgia Institute of Technology

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Her Campus is the source most impressed with Georgia Institute of Technology’s equipment. It ranks the college as having the third-best gym, noting that it also has lots of outdoors exercise areas. Men’s Health ranks the college’s gym as the seventh best in America. MSN ranks the college’s facilities at eighth place. Lastly, College Consensus places it at 14th. Georgia Institute of Technology is dedicated to offering something for anyone who studies at the college. As the college’s recreation site states, “Whatever your style, Campus Recreation Center has a program, activity, or services for you that will best fit your journey to becoming a healthy Yellow Jacket!”

12. Illinois State University

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Lendedu is quick to note that Illinois State University’s fitness center has won numerous awards when featuring it on the source’s unnumbered list. University Primetime features the college in fifth place. Lastly, College Magazine places it at fourth. And 2018 saw a major new addition to Illinois State University’s recreation facilities. The Redbird Adventure Center is an indoor and outdoor facility that cost $2.1 million that offers a high rope course and organizes exercise related trips. The college also recently added new furniture to its fitness center and re-screened the hardwood floors of its sports courts. This shows that the college is committed to maintaining its sporting facilities for the long term.

11. University of California, Irvine

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Campus Explorer, Her Campus, and Lifehack all note that the University of California, Irvine’s gym is so exceptional that world-class athletes, such as Kobe Bryant, have made it their go to work out space. These three sources rank the college at third, fifth and fifth respectively. The college’s main recreation center, the Anteater Recreation Center, is indeed an outstanding facility. Over its 110,000 square feet of space, it has a main gym that features three basketball courts, three volleyball courts, and nine badminton courts. The center also has a second gym; separate racquetball courts; a wellness lab; locker rooms; an aquatics plaza; a 1,100 square foot, 36 feet high climbing wall; a bar; a fit lab; and much more.

10. University of Iowa

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University of Iowa’s best ranking comes on Plexuss, which names its gym the third best in America. College Raptor places it at fourth. College Magazine places it at fifth. University Primetime places it at sixth. Lastly, College Consensus places it at 17th. The University of Iowa has gained such strong rankings due to its state of the art Campus Recreation & Wellness Center, which has a climbing wall, rec pool, diving well and much more. But it also has four more indoor facilities that offer basketball courts, volleyball courts, tennis courts, and pools. Lastly, its outdoor recreation areas include 12 fields, four sand courts, 12 tennis courts, and three softball fields.

9. Auburn University

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auburn-university

Fast Company notes that Auburn University has perhaps Alabama’s finest gym facilities. But the south is incredibly competitive in creating newer and better recreation areas, so this information could change soon. The source notes that the college’s 2014 facility cost $52.5 million and includes a 45 person hot tub and 1/3 mile corkscrew track. Men’s Health considers the college to have the sixth best recreation center. MSN places it at 10th. Plexuss places it at eighth. College Consensus places it at 18th. And most impressively it tops College Raptor’s list. Auburn University also partners with fitness related companies to encourage students to exercise. For instance, it recently teamed up with Under Armour to create fitness challenges, with top-range gear awarded to winners.

8. University of Texas, Austin

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The University of Texas, Austin placed fourth on Campus Explorer’s list due to its huge size. The source notes that the college has 500,000 square feet of indoor recreational space. For similar reasons, Men’s Health ranks it at fifth, MSN ranks it at second, College Raptor ranks it at sixth and College Consensus ranks it at eighth. This huge square footage of gym space is spread across nine different buildings on campus. And while the college’s recreation spaces are state of the art, they also form a historic part of the college. University of Texas’s recreational sports department has existed for over 100 years, meaning that it is a core part of the college’s identity.

7. Colorado State University

Men’s Health names Colorado State University as having America’s coolest recreation center. The center tops that list due to a renovation that transformed it into a state of the art masterpiece of fitness and design. Five other sources also state that the college has one of the best gyms in the country. University Primetime places it at third. MSN and College Raptor both place it at fifth. Lendedu places it in its unnumbered top 10 list. And College Consensus places it at 27th. Colorado State University’s recreation center has everything that students could want in an exercise space. It offers multiple rock climbing walls, fitness studios, outdoor and indoor courts, and a tennis complex.

6. University of North Dakota

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College Magazine states that it considersthe University of North Dakota to have the best gym in America. An important reason for giving the college this accolade is that it prioritizes mental health as much as physical health, with meditation rooms and similar spaces available in its recreation spaces. Five other sources include it in their lists. Plexuss ranks it at second. Her Campus and Lifehack rank it at fourth. College Raptor ranks it at 10th. And MSN ranks it at 11th. University of North Dakota also goes out of its way to offer inclusive recreation opportunities to individuals with disabilities.

5. University of Arizona

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Of the eight methodology sources to feature the University of Arizona’s gym and recreation spaces, University Primetime is the most impressed, placing it at number one. College Raptor places it at second. MSN places it at third. College Magazine places it at eighth. Plexuss places it at ninth. Men’s Health places it at 10th. Lendedu places it in its unnumbered top 10 list. Lastly, College Consensus places it at 33rd. And while the University of Arizona already has incredible recreational services, it’s constantly expanding. For instance, in fall 2019, it is set to open a new recreational area that will offer an additional 51,000 square feet of facilities including a juice bar, weight equipment, cardio equipment, courts, spin/cycle studios and much more.

4. University of Pennsylvania

School Profile

Due to different articles’ ranking criteria, University of Pennsylvania tops two methodology lists, gets ranked second on another and ranks outside the top 10 of a fourth. University Primetime ranks it at 11th. Campus Explorer and Plexuss are the two sources that rank it at first. College Consensus places it at second. These rankings are due in large part to the Olympic size swimming pool and the sheer number of facilities available to students. In fact, these facilities sprawl over seven floors of two large buildings in Philadelphia. Some of the most interesting gym services that the University of Pennsylvania provides include a golf simulator and a massage studio.

3. University of Maine

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The University of Maine features on six different methodology lists. But none is more impressed than MSN, which places it at number one. The source considers it to have America’s best college gym due to a $25 million building called the New Balance Student Recreation Center. Men’s Health places it at second. Plexuss places it at fifth. College Magazine places it at sixth. College Raptor places it at seventh. Lastly, University Primetime places it at eighth. In addition to its recreation center, University of Maine has an ice skating rink, challenge/rope course, swimming pool, tennis courts and more.

2. Ohio State University

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Ohio State University’s gym and recreation areas have led to it being featured on an incredible 11 out of 14 methodology lists. While it doesn’t top any particular list, it performs well on all 11. Its best rankings come on Campus Explorer and Her Campus, where it places at second. College Magazine, College Raptor and Lifehack place it at third. MSN and University Primetime place it at fourth. Plexuss places it at 10th. Lendedu places it in its unnumbered top 10 list. Lastly, Men’s Health and College Consensus place it at 11th. But what has Ohio State University’s gym done to deserve such high rankings across so many lists? It’s because the college can offer world-leading recreational activities to such a large student body. Over 50,000 students call OSU home, and they can work out in six different state of the art buildings throughout campus. And more than 90 acres of outdoors campus space complement these facilities, ensuring that students can always get fit!

1. University of Missouri

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While two colleges have 11 rankings on the methodology lists and two colleges gain two first place rankings on the methodology lists, University of Missouri is the only college to gain two first place spots and be featured on 11 lists. Active and Her Campus both consider the University of Missouri to have the best gyms and additional exercise facilities in America, if not the world. Additionally, Lifehack places it at second, Plexuss places it at fourth, Campus Explorer places it at fifth, MSN places it at sixth, College Raptor places it at eighth, College Magazine places it at ninth, Lendedu places in its unnumbered top 10 list, University Primetime places it at 18th and College Consensus places it at 24th. The facilities in the college’s recreation center underwent a $50 million renovation in 2005 and have gone from strength to strength since. It is open for a minimum of 16 hours a day from fall to spring and has seen 52 Olympic medalists compete in its swimming pools to date.