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 University of Stirling’s ambition within the 335 acre campus – and beyond.
“We always want to set standards,” she said. “After winning UK Sports University of the Year in 2020, we were not resting on our laurels. Our investment in new facilities shows our commitment to performance sport and physical wellbeing.”
Creating a home 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 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.
Performance sport at University of Stirling
“The performance programme is a key part of our culture,” said Cathy. “We needed world-class facilities to match the quality of our programmes and coaching staff.”
The previous facilities were demolished and replaced with a stunning 5000 sqm. complex that includes indoor sports halls and tennis courts, a 50m pool, new changing facilities, gym and fitness suite, and high-performance training areas – all overlooking Airthrey Loch.
The beautiful new 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,” said Cathy. “Feedback continues to be amazing – we’ve been told the new facilities are ‘iconic’ and ‘transformational’.”
University of Stirling’s ambitious investment has created a definite statement of intent around its vision and innovation, with sport and physical activity at the heart of its identity.
A student experience that leads to long-term healthy habits
“It’s crucial that we get the student experience right,” explained Cathy. “First year students need to feel part of something. Our beautiful new fitness facilities are a key touchpoint, helping young people form healthy habits and routines. We know the investment we have made will transform the student experience. We hope it will 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,” said Cathy. “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,” explained Cathy. “Thanks to Technogym, we now have an amazing suite of state-of-the-art equipment with endless opportunity for innovation.”
Harnessing digital to engage the student population
University of Stirling is one of the first higher education settings in the UK to invest in Excite Live.
“This amazing kit blows my mind!” said Cathy. “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,” said Cathy. “We knew it would help us get more students physically active.”
Innovative gym floor layout
University of Stirling made the decision to adopt 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,” explained Cathy. “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 piece,” said Cathy. “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 are Scotland’s University for sport and excellence and need to have excellence in everything we do – this includes our choice of partners,” said Cathy. “Technogym are a world leading brand who clearly demonstrate their 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 act as consultants, advisors, and researchers. The strength and rigour of their work helps us deliver on our strategic objectives.”