What is lacking at Gerdahallen?

Meet Ingvar Wirfelt – the new managing director of Gerdahallen, the university sports centre, from 1 March.

Ingvar WirfeltWhat do you think is lacking at Gerdahallen at the moment?

“I think there are a good range of activities and that the centre is good at picking up new trends. ‘Indoor walking’ is something I’d like to see – but it requires a lot of space. ‘Crossfit’ is another new form of exercise that has become popular, and that requires some equipment and spaces that we don’t have here.”

Would you like to change anything in terms of the premises?

“I was pleasantly surprised by the light and attractive foyer; it feels inviting and modern. However, more space is needed for new forms of exercise, and it will be a challenge to make best use of the existing premises.”

What are you thinking?

“There is less interest in mass aerobics sessions in large gyms and more interest in bodybuilding and other forms of exercise that require small and medium-sized rooms. We have to find space to take advantage of new gym trends.”

What do you most like to do at the gym?

“Spinning and circuits!”

What background do you have?

“After graduating with a degree in economics from Lund, I worked for 20 years with sales and marketing in the business sector – most recently as the CEO of two different companies in the food industry.”

What experience do you have of gyms and fitness?

“I have been very actively involved in Friskis & Svettis in Malmö since 1985, both as an ordinary member and as chair of the board, and also active at national level. I met my wife there when she was an aerobics instructor and we have two adult sons who are also sporty.”

What view do outsiders have of Gerdahallen?

“Friskis & Svettis has always had difficulty getting established in Lund because Gerdahallen holds such a strong position. However, it is only strong in Lund – it’s pretty much unknown elsewhere.”

It sounds as though you’d like to change that?

“I would like to see Gerdahallen become better known and increase its membership.”

But isn’t it fairly crowded already? Aren’t the students and staff of the University sufficient?

“Well, students come and go and we need to reach out to new ones as soon as they arrive, and reach new groups. Competition is fierce, with many new gyms and fitness trends. Crowds are good – there is a social aspect for young people. They want to meet their friends at the gym. But you are right, overcrowding has become an increasing problem.”

How do you plan to reach out better?

“Being on social media is a must. We are already there and may be able to develop this further.”

Gerdahallen is a foundation at Lund University – can you envisage closer collaboration with the University in general?

“Students are our most important target group, so I think it is important to work with the Student Health Service and also the Occupational Health Service. We also want to get all staff on board.”

You are now in charge of around 20 employees and an annual turnover of over SEK 25 million. Are your management skills up to the job?

“I think I am perceived as a person who cares when it comes to my staff. At the same time, I make it clear that you have to be able to perform, deliver and lead projects. In terms of finances, they have to be in balance even if the foundation is not-for-profit. My heart is in this type of organisation, and I think that provides a guarantee that I will do a good job.”

Text and photo: Maria Lindh

FOOTNOTE: Ingvar Wirfelt takes over from Anders Fager, who has been managing director since 2005. He in turn succeeded Bertil Andersén, who had run Gerdahallen since the 1970s with his wife Kerstin. Sport and gymnastics have been practised at Lund University since the 1920s.