With students sweating, breathing hard and sharing bathrooms, the UREC has the potential to be a breeding ground for the virus, so staff members are taking measures to help keep students safe while working out.
University Recreation Executive Director Laurie Braden said that for the most part, the UREC has not run into many difficulties during the pandemic.
“People are mostly compliant and masks are required,” Braden said. “If a member does not comply and wear a mask, we have them leave. We have not had to enforce this because folks are complying.”
The UREC is taking other precautions such as operating at half capacity (260 people) to help mitigate the spread of COVID-19. Members who workout at the UREC are encouraged to wipe down equipment to make sure it’s safe for the next person to use it.
“We have not had a large number of our student employees impacted by COVID-19,” Braden said.
Digital advertising junior Joshua Garibaldi said he appreciates that all members are required to wear masks.
“Seeing how the UREC takes the mask mandate seriously, I don’t have a strong concern,” Garibaldi said.
The UREC has also adjusted its policies amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Pick-up and one-on-one basketball is no longer allowed. Other organized activities, such as volleyball and rock climbing, are still permitted.
GroupX classes such as Pilates, Tiger Pump, Power Yoga and Kickboxing are available for members to sign up for and attend, but have limits on the number of members who can attend. Some classes are offered virtually, including Vinyasa Flow, Pilates and Body Weight Burn.
“I think they should allow pick-up basketball eventually,” Garibaldi said. “The UREC is doing well with all other COVID-19 precautions.”
Prior to the pandemic, it was common for basketball courts at the UREC to be filled with students looking to play pick-up games. Now, students must reserve a court time and can only play basketball independently or shoot with one other person.
Some students have expressed their desire for the UREC to update their rules regarding basketball. Finance junior Paul Cassisa said the UREC should consider modifying the regulations as more students are able to receive vaccinations for COVID-19.
"I don't like the rules because I primarily go to the UREC to play basketball with friends and play pick-up games," Cassisa said. "With the current rules, I can only play 'horse' with one friend at a time. I'm hoping that with vaccinations, the UREC will get more relaxed regulations for basketball."
Even with the new rules, Garibaldi said he would continue working out at the UREC because he said the UREC is doing a good job at keeping everything sanitized.
“The UREC seemed very clean and organized,” he said.
Accounting junior Joshua Nowakowski believes the UREC takes its mask policies too seriously.
“I think the masks are a big problem,” Nowakowski said. “The UREC staff is way too hostile about the masks and also, I have a hard time breathing with the mask on.”
Nowakowski said that he didn’t agree with the rules, so he started working out at a different gym.
According to the Office of the Governor, Louisiana’s Phase 2 COVID-19 mitigation measures have been extended until Feb. 10. Phase 2 allows for gyms to operate at 50% of their capacity.
“The two biggest differences are that you must wear a mask and we have capacity limitations per the state mandate,” Braden said.
The UREC shut down operations on March 14 following the closure of the University. The facility opened backup for the fall semester and has remained open since.