Regenerative medicine: Faculty and staff see benefits of new exercise center

Norbert von der Groeben description of photo

Jeremy Benjamin breaks in the TRX equipment at the new School of Medicine Sports Complex.

It's not every day you come across a man doing pushups in full suit and tie on TRX equipment in the middle of a medical school campus, but that's precisely what Jeremy Benjamin was doing on a recent sunny afternoon.

"I'm really excited to see this," said Benjamin, associate director of major gifts at Medical Center Development, who had stopped by the Aug. 16 opening ceremony for the new outdoor workout facility at the School of Medicine. "We always have meetings on campus, and now I can catch a few quick reps on my way through."

Random pushup breaks between meetings or during lunch might just become the norm thanks to the new School of Medicine Sports Complex, nestled between the Lorry I. Lokey Stem Cell Research Building and the Medical School Office Building and directly on top of the school's new loading dock

Just a few months ago, the complex was nothing but a dirt lot that served as the staging area for the Lokey Building. Now the area, the first of its kind at the medical school, is equipped with a full basketball court with a Nike Grind surface, Kompan outdoor exercise equipment, a TRX frame, benches and a water fountain. For those who want to play volleyball, the court is lined so that players can bring their own portable net and ball.

About 200 people attended the opening event, where they got a chance to shoot a few hoops on the court and get demos of the exercise equipment from members of Stanford's Health Improvement Program. Starting in the fall, HIP will offer a 10-week session of group fitness classes including TRX, boot camp and other types of activities suited for outdoors.

Norbert von der Groeben description of photo

Niraj Dangoria helps inaugurate the new complex Aug. 16 by cutting a basketball net.

Niraj Dangoria, associate dean for facilities planning and management, said the sports complex epitomizes all that the School of Medicine is about. "We talk so much about striking the balance between work and life, and promoting health and fitness. What better way to show that, even with the limited real estate on campus, we can create a space with so much value that brings people together."

Instead of a ribbon-cutting ceremony, Dangoria joined Chris Shay, director of projects in the Office of Facilities Planning & Management, and Vivian Jones, project manager for the sports complex, in a ceremonial cutting of two of the basketball nets.

"This was the best project I could ever have dreamed of — it was my baby," said Jones, who looked like a proud new mother at the opening event. "I've always been into fitness, and to be able to help others get and stay healthy through exercise was pure joy."

The activities available at the facility give new meaning to the phrase "regenerative medicine," said Dean Philip Pizzo, MD, noting that it is part of Stanford University's commitment to academics and athletics as a way of promoting intellectual and physical success. "I am very pleased our medical school campus interconnects education, research, patient care and the health and well-being of our community," he added.

Norbert von der Groeben description of photo

The court and equipment at the complex are open to all members of the medical school community.

Benjamin, the medical school development officer, said he too shared in the university's commitment to promoting healthy lifestyles, flashing his pedometer as evidence of his involvement in the university's BeWell program promoting health and wellness among employees. "I usually work out over at Sand Hill," he said, adding that this new site would make it easier for him to integrate exercise into his day.

Others were having the same thought. Christopher Gardner, PhD, associate professor of medicine at the Stanford Prevention Research Center, had come over to the celebration to scrutinize some of the equipment. "What a fabulous idea for what was once a useless space," he said. "I've been waiting for it to open forever, and I already envision myself doing some pullups. " And apparently, he wasn't kidding. He did 10 of them on the spot.

The sports complex is open to all members of the School of Medicine community. Free demonstrations and TRX mini classes will be held during the remainder of August. Please wear athletic clothing and shoes, and bring a towel and water bottle.

The dates are:

  • Aug. 20, 12:10-12:50 p.m.
  • Aug. 21, 5:15-5:45 p.m.
  • Aug. 22, 12:10-12:50 p.m.
  • Aug. 23, 8:10-8:50 a.m.
  • Aug. 27, 12:10-12:50 p.m.
  • Aug. 28, 5:15-5:45 p.m.
  • Aug. 29, 12:10-12:50 p.m.
  • Aug. 30, 8:10-8:50 a.m.
  • Aug. 31, 12:10-12:50 p.m.

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