Central to upgrade Schipper Fitness Center

PELLA—Pushing forward in its ongoing drive to enhance the athletics competition and training facilities for its students, Central College announced a major upgrade to the Ron Schipper Fitness Center this spring.
A $350,000 investment, fully funded by donors, makes possible a Schipper Fitness Center redesign, new equipment, new lighting and other infrastructure improvements.
“This project will benefit athletes in all of our programs, but we’re also excited because they’ll enhance the Central experience for other students as well, as our facilities are some of the most extensively used on campus,” athletics director Eric Van Kley said.
The upgrade follows the completion of the $18-million Forever Dutch® initiative in 2021 for the expansion and renovation of P.H. Kuyper Gymnasium. Van Kley noted that other athletics facility improvements are on the agenda as well.
“We’re committed to building championship programs and that includes providing championship facilities for our athletes,” Van Kley said. “That requires aggressively addressing facility needs to better serve them in the future. We need to ride the tremendous momentum generated by the Forever Dutch® initiative and continue moving ahead. We’re excited about some additional future projects we’re looking at as well. We’re so grateful to the countless alumni and friends whose generosity makes this possible. We’re extremely fortunate to have their incredible support.”
Alumni and friends can help support the new projects by making a gift at
New fitness center flooring and weights–All new flooring as well as new dumbells and racks, squat racks, benches and bars will be installed in the popular Schipper Fitness Center, which houses the athletics department’s 7,200-square foot strength and conditioning facility. The 1/4-inch Mondo floor and carpet will be replaced by a one-inch rubber surface. New lifting platforms will be recessed instead of raised.
“What that gives you is a larger working area and a more efficient use of space,” strength and conditioning coordinator Kyle Johnson said. “Instead of having those platforms sticking six feet out in front of the racks, it will all be just level floor. When we’re trying to stagger multiple teams in here during the winter, it allows us to use our weight room as a
warm-up space as well.”
The redesign will provide space for 13 lifting racks, up from 11.
“That allows us to train another 6-8 athletes at the same time,” Johnson said.
The flooring will also be more functional surface for lifting and easier for staff to clean.
Traditional metal barbells and plates are being replaced by polyurethane rubber. The composition increases durability and also eliminates the need to frequently tighten plates.
It’s the most significant facility redesign since it opened in 1998. Central continues to be a strength and conditioning leader. Central has three full-time coaches, allowing for individualized training programs for each athlete, with an additional emphasis on nutrition. Central’s popular intern program has helped graduates prepare for strength and conditioning coaching careers, landing jobs at colleges, universities, teams and businesses across the U.S.
The facility is one of the most heavily used on campus.
“We have as many as 70-75 students at one time and have hundreds use it every day,” Johnson said.
Central also offers a unique strength and conditioning major and this year became one of just five colleges nationwide to earn accreditation from the Council on Accreditation of Strength and Conditioning Programs.
Preliminary work begins in March and should be completed by early summer.

Lifting platforms will be built in to the new Mondo flooring in the Schipper Fitness Center.

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