Pursuing Arete at the Splex

Written by Mary Caroline Whims

Three o’ clock on a Friday hits, and the Roche Sports Complex buzzes with motion and excitement. Students trade button-ups for sweatpants, tuck in earbuds or AirPods, and get away from the busyness of academia for a refreshing workout.

The “Splex,” as the gym is affectionately known, is home to a wealth of equipment and opportunities. From the rock-climbing wall to the pool, from the racquetball courts to the JAM weight room—featuring squat racks emblazoned with Arete, the Greek word for “excellence”—it’s the perfect place to get your daily sweat. The Splex, however, is more than just a place with fitness equipment. It’s a vital hub of campus culture and a great place for Hillsdale students to destress and have fun.

Carly Fisher ’22 was a cross country runner in high school, but an IT band injury in her freshman year of college completely changed her perspective. Forced to take a more holistic approach toward exercise, Fisher started exploring new ways to develop overall fitness, including strength training and yoga. “That’s when I got introduced to the gym in the traditional sense, and not just running,” she says. “I loved it.”

Fisher found her sweet spot with a combination of lifting and running. For her, the benefits extend far beyond the gym: working out is a mood-booster, and she believes it’s key to her productivity as a student. “I’m going to be so much less efficient at what I’m doing if I haven’t moved,” she says. Her time at the gym helps provide “mental clarity and focus.”

Many students enjoy meeting with friends at the Splex. “It’s always fun to work out with someone,” says senior Maria Forsythe. “You should definitely get a buddy to go with you, and then you can hold each other accountable.” She has especially enjoyed the time to work out with her older sister, Lara, who is now an alumna and lives in the area. Fisher agrees, saying that she enjoys the healthy competition of lifting with others: “You push yourself so much harder when you’re working with someone else, but also it’s just doing it together that’s so much fun.”

Some students take it far beyond a casual gym plan. Five days a week, sophomore Jacob Ladd leads a group called “The Lifty Boiz” to work out at the Splex. Since many students no longer play the team sports they did in high school, Ladd says that time spent in the college gym with friends fills an important need. “It’s a fantastic place to really build community, especially with guys,” he says. “It’s almost a team atmosphere… We’re all trying to strive toward getting stronger and building more muscle. It’s really a bonding experience.”

The gym offers a variety of classes for students and community members. Some recent listings have included Morning Motivation, HIIT workouts, and self-defense training. Forsythe remembers a cycling class she once took that started at 6:30 in the morning. “That was really hard,” she says with a laugh.

And yet, there’s something in the challenge that keeps Hillsdale students coming back for more.

“I get a total runner’s high,” says Fisher. “I feel so cleansed afterwards, so good. I’ll throw on some AC/DC and then just go at it.”

Whether you’re an accomplished yogi or an amateur volleyball player, there’s something for you at the Splex. Building fitness alongside friends helps Hillsdale students to thrive in many aspects of life—both inside and outside the classroom. Sometimes, pursuing excellence starts with fun.

Mary Caroline Whims Mary Caroline Whims, ’21, studies English at Hillsdale College, where she serves as editor-in-chief of Fool’s Talk magazine. On a given day, you can find her playing in an intramural basketball game, waxing poetic about church windows, or postponing homework to make a good conversation last longer.

Published in May 2020