App State UREC reopens indoor facilities

Spin+cycles+with+protective+clear+plastic+for+group+fitness+classes+on+the+SRC+gym+floor.

Jesse Barber

Spin cycles with protective clear plastic for group fitness classes on the SRC gym floor.

Cole Elledge, Reporter

App State’s UREC indoor exercise facilities reopened Sept. 8 after being closed since March amid the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The reopening of indoor exercise facilities is part of the broader reopening of North Carolina. Phase 2.5, which went into effect Sept. 4, allows gyms and similar facilities to reopen at 30% capacity.

         In an email sent to students Sept. 4, UREC’s indoor facilities announced the reopening at 25%. People within such facilities must wear masks, stay 12 feet apart and show their daily health check passports.

“We are interpreting this in a more conservative way, in that we are actually operating at less than these already fairly strict measures,” said Rich Campbell, associate director of programs.

Jason Wolfe, general utility staff supervisor, said indoor facilities use a reservation layout to limit people within facilities. Those wanting to reserve a time slot can do so on UREC’s website or mobile app.

Rogers said Mt. Mitchell Fitness Centre and the SRC’s cardio room are too small to encourage social distancing and therefore remain closed. Cardio equipment in the SRC is spread throughout the facility.

Each activity space has its own occupancy limit. Rogers said this is to ensure that everyone can utilize whatever equipment or space they need while maintaining social distancing. Wearing a face covering is required while moving between activity spaces. A face covering isn’t required at the activity spaces, but they are encouraged. 

Rodo Leone, Director of University Recreation, said indoor facility users must stay 12 feet apart when exercising, but can be six feet apart if they aren’t. Cardio equipment is spaced 15 feet apart. 

“This distance is based on guidance and research from NIRSA, the governing national organization in collegiate recreation,” Leone said.

The National Intramural and Recreational Sports Association, or NIRSA, oversees sports and recreation in collegiate systems throughout the United States and Canada. Recommendations for reopening recreational programs and facilities are on its website.

“Our recommendations and requirements adhere to guidance provided by federal, state, local, and university authorities,” Leone said.

Cardio equipment is spaced 15 feet apart and placed inside work-pods made of vinyl sheets.

Facilities operate in a 90/30 minutes cycle: activities are available during 90-minute blocks, and facilities are cleaned for 30 minutes between the 90-minute blocks.

“During our 30-minute disinfecting periods, staff are disinfecting all equipment and frequently used items such as door handles, railings, and restroom areas,” said Angela Shook, associate director for business operations.

Wolfe said people are encouraged to clean their spaces after they are done working out. Hand sanitizer, cleaning stations and sanitary wipes are available for those exercising.

Dickey said she anticipates fewer people will use indoor facilities than before they were shut down. She thinks cleaning activity areas and the new reservation system will make reopening difficult initially.

“Because this is a very dynamic situation, our plans are based on the most up-to-date information we have at this time and may change depending on many factors that are largely out of our control. Our team is carefully considering our options and we appreciate your patience as we work together towards reopening,” read a statement on UREC’s website .