“OK, Bedient, you’re on!” It’s a late summer afternoon as Dave Thompson challenges Professor of Mathematics Dick Bedient to a race on the “Expresso” stationary bikes in Hamilton’s Charlean and Wayland Blood Fitness and Dance Center. Thompson, the center’s director, interrupts the tour he is giving to first-year students, climbs on the bike next to Bedient’s and shows the new students how to customize a workout on the video game-like software.
Rain pelts the huge windows as students and professors sweat on the three rows of cardio and weight-training equipment. Nearby, students scale the 40-foot climbing wall. It may be the first Sunday of the new school year, but Thompson and his Fitness Center are bustling. For hours, Thompson has been fielding questions and directing incoming students to the mandatory first-year fitness testing on the top floor of the facility. Hamilton’s fitness guru since the center opened in 2006, Thompson also oversees the College’s club and intramural sports and manages its wellness and physical education classes. A coach at heart, Thompson led the College swimming program from 1983 until 2002 but now works with every kind of Hamilton athlete imaginable, from All-Americans to weekend warriors and fitness buffs.
The brief bike race ends in “victory” for Bedient, himself one of those fitness buffs. As Thompson dismounts, his audience disperses and a student employee steps up to notify him that it’s 5 p.m., today’s closing time.
Thompson looks around to see dozens of Hamilton students still working out. “People are excited to be here,” he says. “Don’t throw them out yet.”