McKinnon: The People’s Gym

Down in the depths of the McKinnon Building is one of my newfound favourite places on campus: the McKinnon gym/weight room. Yes, maybe it’s a hot take, but I stand by this opinion.

I started going to the gym regularly about a year ago, as we started to shift out of the pandemic and gyms began to open again. As I returned to Victoria for classes after the summer, in September 2022, I started looking for a gym I could go to, either on campus on near my house off-campus. I initially bought a pass to CARSA on campus because, at the new price of $88 a term for a student, it’s a pretty reasonable cost for all the equipment you get access to.

However, my friend introduced me to the McKinnon gym/fitness area this semester, and admittedly I’ve been spending a lot of time there instead of CARSA. Of course, CARSA is still an amazing facility to work out in and you get access to very high quality equipment there, but there’s just something about the McKinnon gym that can’t be beat.

Map of the UVic campus, with the McKinnon Building (home of the McKinnon gym) marked with the yellow star. The gym can be accessed by heading downstairs to the basement floor.


Inside the McKinnon gym. Not the fanciest equipment ever, but it’ll do the job.

Despite the older equipment, lack of somewhat essential gym staples like a proper bench press, squat rack, or dumbbells within the 20-30lb range, what the McKinnon weight room lacks in bells and whistles it makes up for in character and comfort.

There is a distinct community atmosphere in the McKinnon gym, where I often see the same people working out day in and day out. Everyone I’ve met working out there has been incredibly kind, supportive, and welcoming. 

Athletic fashion isn’t a priority or a source of stress for most there, because everyone is just there to get their bodies moving in a low-stress, supportive environment. And best of all, as a UVic student, the McKinnon gym facilities are free.

I’ve also found McKinnon is rarely very busy, even though it’s a relatively small gym. This way, you often have the freedom to try different machines and exercises in a calm environment… sometimes I even have the whole gym to myself when I’m in there! The hours are pretty good too; the gym is open from 6am-10pm Monday through Friday, and 7am-9pm on weekends.

Overall, I’m very happy I discovered the McKinnon this semester. If you can get past the quirks, this a great place to get a workout in with your friends, for free, on campus.

gym equipment

Inside the McKinnon gym.

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