UT-Austin community members petition for more deadlift platforms at RecSports facilities

Leena Alali

Over 200 members of the UT community signed a petition for the University to add more deadlift platforms to UT’s gyms, which currently only have one located in Gregory Gymnasium. 

Biology sophomore Adrian Ogunbunmi said he created the petition in the hopes that the University will bring more deadlift platforms to the facilities. Ogunbunmi said there is at least a 20-minute wait for the deadlift area if he gets to the gym in the afternoon around 3 or 4 p.m. 

“I’m really trying to solve things,” Ogunbunmi said. “I know some people might make claims like, ‘Oh, we have bigger problems than this,’ … but a problem is a problem. We can’t neglect that.”

All enrolled students have access to the eight recreational facilities operated by RecSports. Only four of the facilities offer standard workout training equipment, which includes treadmills, free weights and Smith machines. 

Ogunbunmi said he is in the process of contacting the faculty at RecSports to have students’ voices heard about adding more deadlift platforms.

After watching a video of Texas A&M University’s gym, Ogunbunmi said the Aggies have at least 26 deadlift platforms. He said he does not think the gyms at UT are up to the same standard as other top universities in Texas.

“The deadlift is probably one of the most taxing, but one of the most important exercises that anybody can do,” Ogunbunmi said. “It engages all the muscles in your body.”

Jennifer Speer, senior director of RecSports, said there’s only one deadlift platform because it takes up a lot of space.  

Speer said RecSports gets feedback from their 1,000 student-employees to gauge gym trends and see which machines are in demand.

Additionally, Speer said RecSports makes decisions about what equipment to add to the gyms based on community feedback, and so far, only one student has reached out about having more deadlift platforms. 

“(Our facility manager) has identified spaces that we could potentially put this platform, but it means we’re gonna have to lose other equipment to make room for the platform to also be able to be in ADA compliance,” Speer said. 

Speer said she recommends students email RecSports directly if they have issues with the gyms, rather than forming a petition. 

“In general, the University does not respond to petitions,” Speer said. 

The first deadlift was installed at Gregory Gym in 2014 during an equipment rehaul, and Speer said only cardio equipment such as the treadmills get regularly changed because the equipment wears faster than weight equipment.

“We added a bunch more Smith machines and power racks which you can do deadlifts on; you just can’t drop the barbell down to the ground,” Speer said. 

Matt Morin, chemistry and entrepreneurship senior, said he loves to deadlift, but the lack of available racks and platforms prevents him from doing so. Morin said he hopes the petition will influence RecSports to add more deadlift platforms. 

“I came from UTSA (UT-San Antonio), and they have seven different racks there for deadlifting, so it was never an issue,” Morin said. “That’s actually one of the first things I noticed about Greg was the fact that there was (only one).”