By Katie Peters – Co-Editor-in-Chief
Running athletic facilities on campus during a pandemic has presented a multitude of challenges. The three gyms on campus – Edwards, McClelland and the Athletic Center – are open for both resident and commuter students. All facilities have precautions implemented to safeguard against COVID-19. While many students have no gripe with these precautions, some feel they are limiting.
Currently, students are able to sign up for 45-minute time slots at one specific machine, and there is a 15-minute window between each session to ensure all machines and surfaces have been properly sanitized. All that enter must wear a mask and show a green CoVerified badge. Stations are spaced out to ensure ample space for social distancing.
“Everybody has to stay where they sign up for,” says Director of Athletics Kristy Walter. “We don’t want to share equipment or share the benches. You should be in that station for that time slot you signed up for.”
Junior Zach Kraft, like a number of other students, decided to get a membership at a public gym to bypass the precautions set in place at on-campus facilities. He made this decision for three reasons: time restraints, the inability to rotate stations within a time slot, and capacity limits. Many students who have gotten outside gym memberships echo these same complaints.
“It’s really hard to go with your friends. I feel like part of working out and what keeps me motivated is having a gym buddy,” says Kraft. “The other problem is that they make you reserve a specific station which is also problematic because you can’t really get a sustainable workout just hitting one station at the gym.”
Sophomore Matthew Rothberg decided to make the most out of the campus gyms for this semester. Because he is commuting this semester, he is allowed to visit any of the campus gyms twice a week.
“What I like about the gyms on campus is that I could go whenever I wanted, at any time. The only issue was that I could only workout for 45 mins, [which is] a very small amount of time to get my workouts in,” says Rothberg.
At many public gyms like the one Kraft attends, gym-goers are able to move from station to station as they please as long as surfaces are cleaned before and after use, a key factor in drawing students to these gyms. People must wear a face mask and social distance from each other at public facilities as well, just as they do at the on-campus gyms.
Walter feels that right now, limiting capacity and having assigned stations is the safest option. “This is what we have in place right now and we don’t [want] more… people in there so you have to sign up for that time slot… I feel more comfortable keeping people in their spots,” she said.
Kraft agrees with limiting capacity at the gyms, but suggests students should be allowed to move freely between stations as long as they are sanitized between uses, much like the public gym he attends. “I think that would be huge, just being able to go from station to station,” he says.
Walters has not received feedback directly from students about the gym facilities and their potential downsides. She says that most students who use the on-campus gym facilities have been following COVID-19 precautions well.
“We’re not ready to expand that use right now. We do keep reviewing it, but I think we feel safest using this right now, with limiting the number of people in each space,” says Walter.