As University of Stirling’s vice chancellor, Professor Sir Gerry McCormac says: “sport is part of the university’s DNA”. When the university invested in a £20m upgrade of its sport and fitness facilities, the vision was clear: to engage as many students, staff, and members of the community as possible in sport and physical activity at the level of their choosing.
Cathy Gallagher, executive director of sport, tells us how the new facilities are communicating the university’s ambition within the 335 acre campus and beyond.
“We always want to set standards,” she says. “After winning UK Sports University of the Year in 2020, we didn’t rest on our laurels – our investment in new facilities shows our commitment to performance sport and physical wellbeing.”
Fit for Olympians
The university’s previous sports facilities didn’t reflect the scale of ambition for sport at the campus.
University of Stirling is home to the National Swimming Academy and National Tennis Academy and is the only university outside North America to compete in NCAA-ranked golf events.
Its athletes and coaching staff are household names, including Duncan Scott (pre-selected for Tokyo 2021, and the most decorated Scottish athlete at any single Commonwealth Games) and head performance swim coach Steve Tigg, who is part of Team GB.
Swimming, golf, tennis, triathlon, male and female football, rugby, and curling – the list of sporting achievements at the university goes on.
“The performance programme is a key part of our culture,” says Gallagher, “we needed world-class facilities to match the quality of our programmes and coaching staff and set out to create a home fit for Olympians.”
The previous facilities were demolished and replaced with a stunning 5,000 sq m complex that includes indoor sports halls and tennis courts, a 50m pool, changing facilities, a gym and fitness suite and high-performance training areas, all overlooking Airthrey Loch.
The beautiful setting has become a go-to point on campus and for the wider local area, carrying the message of health and wellbeing to a huge audience.
“Sport is now the first thing people encounter when coming onto campus,” says Gallagher. “Feedback continues to be amazing – we’ve been told the new facilities are iconic and transformational.”
Creating healthy habits
University of Stirling’s ambitious investment has created a definite statement of intent around its visions of creating a student experience that leads to long-term healthy habits and also to driving innovation, with sport and physical activity at the heart of the identity of the university.
“It’s crucial we get the student experience right,” explains Gallagher. “First year students need to feel part of something. Our beautiful new fitness facilities are a key touchpoint, helping young people form healthy routines. We know the investment we’ve made will transform the student experience. We hope it will also have a positive lasting impact on the rest of their lives.”
A key part of the design brief was to connect every part of the new facilities to create a streamlined student and member experience.
“The facilities now have one entrance and one exit, so freshers or local people can walk through the door with one of our Olympic athletes,” says Gallagher. “This creates an important sense of motivation and belonging.”
University of Stirling’s new fitness suite features over 110 stations, with a dedicated strength and conditioning area and high-performance training area.
“Technogym’s ambition and impact in the physical activity sector aligns perfectly with our values and what we want to achieve,” explains Gallagher. “Thanks to Technogym, we now have an amazing suite of state-of-the-art equipment with endless opportunity for innovation.”
University of Stirling is one of the first higher education settings in the UK to invest in Technogym’s Excite Live line.
“This amazing kit blows my mind!” says Gallagher. “It offers phenomenal technological advancements, with beautiful architecture and aesthetics and the kit is very slimline, helping us make better use of space and cater for more members.”
Technogym Excite Live helps the university deliver on its ambition to engage more of its student population.
“Excite Live’s level of sophistication and functionality aligns with the language we use in programme development and delivery,” says Gallagher. “We knew it would help us get more students physically active.”
Innovative gym floor layout
University of Stirling made the decision to add Technogym Skill Line classes to the gym floor, including Skillbike class, Skillrow class, and Skillrun class.
“We know digital will engage people, but we never want to lose the human aspect of the gym,” explains Gallagher. “Skill Line classes create a buzz on the gym floor. It’s a different dynamic, which engages more people in a new way. Technogym helped us with programming and staff training, so we can offer a compelling member experience.”
“Our goal is to keep people coming back and Technogym’s kit is key to this engagement,” says Gallagher. “People can access their own coach and programming through the equipment, get extra content, and enjoy the benefits of a community.”
Living and breathing excellence
“We’re Scotland’s University for sport and excellence and need to exhibit excellence in everything we do – this includes our choice of partners,” says Gallagher. “Technogym is a world-leading brand and clearly demonstrates its commitment to innovation and advancement.
“We work with Technogym to stay ahead of the game. As we continue on our journey of increased participation, Technogym acts as consultants, advisors, and researchers. The strength and rigour of Technogym’s work helps us deliver on our strategic objectives.”
Find out more: www.Technogym.com