Racking it up: UK’s Johnson Center introduces new workout equipment


Brady Saylor

A student uses an ICONx rack to exercise in a newly-renovated weight room on Monday, Jan. 23, 2023, at the Johnson Center in Lexington, Kentucky. Photo by Brady Saylor | Staff

Courtney Suber, Reporter

In fall 2022, UK’s Johnson Center recreation facility went through a series of upgrades, including the transformation of the racquetball court to an open floor plan and the addition of new equipment.

Every two years, campus recreation completes a survey on student satisfaction. The last survey, done in 2020, showed dissatisfaction with the amount of lifting equipment available to students. 

“I think one of the things that the survey was asking for is more rack space, (more) power rack space,” Mark Lattin, director for campus recreation, said.

Casey Gill, the JC fitness director, also noted problems surrounding wait times were evident just by looking around the space. 

“Anecdotally walking through the facility, you could see long lines of students waiting to get on those racks,” Gill said. 

The center welcomed home new ICONx racks, which are specialized racks for lifting. 

The ICONx racks were customized to maximize versatility while minimizing the footprint of the equipment,” according to the UK Campus Recreation website.

The upgrades began in February 2021 and finished up just in time for the fall 2022 semester. The racks were installed by PLAE ICONx and are the first of its kind on a college campus.

The new racks allow the JC to exponentially increase its amount of lifting racks. 

​Over the last decade or so, we’ve added more. We went from having two racks to having 13 racks now at the Johnson Center in that timeframe,” Gill said.

The addition of the racks also saw the evolution of space in the JC. What used to be a racquetball court transformed into an area to hold the new ICONx racks. 

“Utility was also taken into account when the racks were being placed. (We wanted to see) if we can get as many racks as possible, and assure it could be as multipurpose as possible,” Gill said. 

The website also said the racks include space to perform Olympic lifting movements, racks with safety catch options to perform barbell movements, an adjustable bench and pulley, powerback dumbbells and kettlebells. 

Reservations to use the racks can be set up using the RecWell Services Portal, which is a system accessible through UK’s campus and recreation wellness website.

The racks have already been utilized and are appreciated by students. 

“The racks (in the transformed area) are a bit nicer than the ones they have out,” freshman Ryan Leocata said.

Others also reflected on the content value of the new equipment. 

“The floors are nice and the bars have a good weight distribution,” freshman Kevin Mosby said.

The ICONx racks are an addition which are meant to be unique to university recreation centers at UK.

“One of the visions that student success has for all of all programs is that we are designing and delivering unparalleled services,” Lattin said.

The ICONx racks are open for use in the JC during normal hours, and appointments for use can be made on UK’s recreation services website.