San Diego State University’s Independent Student Newspaper Since 1913

The Daily Aztec

San Diego State University’s Independent Student Newspaper Since 1913

The Daily Aztec

San Diego State University’s Independent Student Newspaper Since 1913

The Daily Aztec

A personal trainer’s guide to ARC Outdoors

Jake Greenfield

It had been five months of working out in my off-campus apartment, using only light dumbbells, resistance bands and my bodyweight. With each workout, I became less motivated. So, when I learned that the Aztec Recreation Center would be opening up outdoor workout facilities I was ecstatic.

Exercising outdoors was freeing in comparison to my apartment. Although it did come with its own set of challenges. My sunscreen and sweat started to mix in my mask and drip into my eyes. However, overall, the ARC Outdoors is a great solution to a unique problem and will meet the needs of most gym goers.

Social distancing is enforced, machines and equipment are spaced out, tents and shades protect those exercising and session reservations are required and can be made through the ARC members services website. Each session is 75 minutes, plenty of time to get in a good workout.

For anyone looking to stay fit on campus, there are three main ARC Outdoors locations: The Rec Field, Aquaplex, and ARC Express. Here’s a guide to what each location offers. 

The Rec Field is located west of Storm Hall West and West Commons. (Photo provided by Jake Greenfield)

Rec Field

This location is just north of parking lot four, and west of west commons.

This location is my personal favorite for a few reasons. In general, I focus most of my workouts on strength training and a little bit of aesthetics. The equipment here serves most of my needs. 

This Rec Field has typical resistance training equipment such as dumbbells, kettlebells, barbells, benches, and a few fun items like a plyo box, sled, battle ropes, and an area for dips and pullups. 

Additionally, I felt the safest while working out at the Rec Field. 

Each piece of equipment item has its own tent, making this location the most spread out and a luxury during a pandemic. Everyone was about 10-feet apart. There is also a large area for fitness classes for anyone looking to get a quick class in.

Also, this location is open the earliest which made it easy for me to get my workout in early in the day without any crowds. My mindset when working out is that I am at the gym to work hard. Of all the locations, this one had the least distractions, allowing me to fully focus.

The ARC has set up various exercise equipment at the Aquaplex. (Photo provided by Jake Greenfield)


Don’t let the name fool you, the Aquaplex location is more than a pool. it has the greatest variety of equipment.

Obviously, the pool is open for lap swimming, plus there are a number of stationary cycles for classes, resistance training equipment, and cardio machines such as rowers, stairmasters and treadmills. 

The consequence of this much variety is certainly a lot of equipment crammed into a small space. Everything is under a shared tent and I noticed most people having difficulty following the six feet social distancing guidelines, making me feel the least safe at this location. 

Another unfortunate problem with this location is that you are only renting out the space for one type of workout. You cannot reserve a session for the strength training equipment, then jump into the pool to cool off. However, with all that taken into consideration— for the average student— this location will serve all of your needs.

ARC Express Outdoors on the 3rd floor of the Conrad Prebys Aztec Student Union. (Photo provided by Jake Greenfield)

ARC Express

I believe this is the worst of the three locations. 

Located on the third floor of the Conrad Prebys Aztec Student Union, The ARC Express houses strictly cardio equipment with the exception of two items you can use for a core workout. 

The cardio equipment consists of ellipticals, recumbent bikes, and rowers. 

As a personal trainer, I can tell you that the single least useful piece of exercise equipment is the elliptical, with the recumbent bike not far behind. These machines provide low impact cardio, which is only beneficial for those with certain health issues. 

When I visited, I was the only person that had booked a session for the whole 75 minutes, indicating that other students must share my view of this location. 

However, I felt extremely safe working out with no one else around. I used the rower for roughly 20 minutes and called it a day. Unless you are a student that needs low impact cardio due to an injury or some other health complication, I would advise you to walk or run outside instead of visiting this location.

Final Thoughts

The ARC is notorious for being an unwelcoming environment, but this new outdoor environment changes this. 

Usually, the ARC is full of frat guys wearing scrappy shirts that hide nothing, hogging exercise equipment and generally giving the gym a toxic masculinity vibe.

There’s also the problem of overcrowding. Many students are familiar with too many students in the group fitness class they want to take or fighting to get a squat rack in the weight room. 

The outdoor environment combined with the reservation system fixes most of those issues. I truly love the reservation system, and I hope SDSU utilizes it post-pandemic. I was able to use most of the equipment I wanted, felt comfortable, and was able to get in a great workout consistently. 

The Rec Field, Aquaplex and ARC Express have a plethora of exercise equipment that will fill your various exercise needs. Whether you prefer hopping on a cardio machine, bench pressing to your heart’s desire or pushing a sled across an open field, there is something for everyone. I recommend you book an appointment to check it out.

Jake Greenfield is a senior studying kinesiology: pre-physical therapy. 


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San Diego State University’s Independent Student Newspaper Since 1913
A personal trainer’s guide to ARC Outdoors