Tracy Solomon, Assistant Professor – Teaching Stream at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education (University of Toronto), is a very active member of the Hart House Fitness Centre, and has been for decades. This Applied Psychology and Human Development faculty member shares what makes this facility so special.
Tracy first started coming to Hart House when she was a U of T graduate student in the mid-1990s. “I made friends with students in a statistics course who had started to use the Hart House Fitness Centre,” she explains.
Right from the start, she was drawn to the history of the place. “Back then, there were no machines in the middle, only on the periphery. I loved the old-school feel of the wood floor, the vintage signage and the elliptical track going around the whole top floor.”
Focusing on the stationary bike and the machines at the time, it felt “like the perfect marriage of old setting and shiny, new equipment,” Tracy says, adding, “The workout environment definitely affects me … and Hart House had it just right.”
She used the facilities as a student but wasn’t sure if she could join again as a U of T alumna and OISE faculty member. “I learned only last year that I could join Hart House again, as one of my benefits at OISE. I jumped at the chance immediately. Returning brought back a lot of great memories.”
Curious to Try New Things – Like Swimming!
A ballet dancer for many years before her academic life, Tracy feels at home at the Hart House Fitness Centre and is curious to try new things. “Organized fitness classes are not my thing, but lately I’ve been thinking about playing badminton or something more team oriented,” she says, joking: “I realize I could be the only grey-haired woman on the court, but I’m okay with that!”
“I am not, repeat not, a very good swimmer but the Hart House lifeguards are wonderful.”
She’s hooked on swimming now and finds it the perfect antidote to her cerebral endeavours as an academic. “For someone who’s always thinking about work, I love that when I get in the pool I can just focus on swimming.” She has set an ambitious schedule for herself: Three times a week, each session being 45 to 60 minutes.
Hart House: “A saving grace on many days”
Tracy emphasizes how welcoming the environment is. “Hart House is beautifully clean and staff, over the years, have always been helpful and friendly.”
She also appreciates the diverse community of users and the non-judgmental feel of the Fitness Centre. “The lifeguards are clearly paying attention, but I can do a wacky swim stroke and it’s okay!”
She cannot say enough about the space. “It is a true urban oasis – quiet, peaceful, clean and really beautiful. The pool, with all that light coming through the ceiling, is reminiscent of a swimming bath from the 1920s. A couple of lifeguards play jazz quietly during lane swim. It’s a slice of heaven on an otherwise crazy day.”
Tracy counts her blessings for the full life she leads with a family and home, a relationship to nurture, and a mother and mother-in-law to support as well as a fulfilling career, and in this context, adds, “Hart House is a physical and psychological saving grace on many days.”
She is also proud that Hart House is so supportive of women. “I understand that it was formerly limited to men. As with so many hard-won things for women, I think it’s important to show continuing support – to represent. I truly do want to promote Hart House, especially for women, my students. It has meant a great deal to me over the years.”
Learn more about the Hart House Fitness Centre and how to get your Membership today.