Fitness Center Open For First Time Since March

by, Alexa Schmidt, Victor Franco, & Cort Koss, Arts & Entertainment Editor, Staff Writers

The fitness center, located in the Kelly Student Commons, officially opened for the first time since returning to campus on Monday, Oct. 5. Students received this notification on Oct. 1 in an email sent out from the Jaspers Return leadership.

Operating at a limited capacity, all students must wear masks and wipe down the machines after each use. The center has limited hours, where deep cleaning will be done during afternoon breaks and each night after closing.

Joseph DiOrio, a student worker at the gym explained that due to COVID-19, there have been several new conditions that the gym has upon entering. 

“Originally, you would just walk up to the counter and swipe your card and walk in, but now you’re supposed to get your temperature taken, show your green pass, and then finally swipe your card,” DiOrio said. 

Another student worker, Katelyn Huggard, a senior elementary education student who has worked at the fitness center since Fall 2019, says the new regulations are being adhered to by the student body. 

“It’s nice to see at least the students are doing what they should be doing.” Huggard said.

DiOrio believes that although the center can get extremely busy at times, students follow the social distancing rules. 

“I think, for the most part, we’re trying, in a generally smaller space,” DiOrio said. “So when it gets packed sometimes in the mid-afternoon, it’s tricky, but I think everyone has their masks pretty much on and I’ve been watching people keep as close as a safe distance as they can. Generally, I think it’s gonna be a tough little problem but I think we’re doing all right so far.” 

The center closes every day from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. in order to sanitize equipment. At night, the same procedures are done to ensure that everything is set to go for the next morning. 

The center also placed a limit on the number of students that can be in the space at the same time. The maximum capacity is 30 students, but because of staff, that number is rounded to a total of 35 people. 

“Sometimes we have to tell people to come back in like 15 minutes,” Huggard said. But that is the only stressful time when there are about 15 people waiting around lunchtime.” 

However, the problem always seems to sort itself out.   

“It’s pretty fair, there isn’t a whole lot of inflow and outflow in the Manhattan college fitness center,” DiOrio said. “There are always people coming in and out.”

The fitness center in Kelly Commons opens with COVID-friendly regulations to keep students safe and six feet apart.

Students and younger staff come in the most frequently. 

“Predominantly when a professor comes by there is more anxiety, and those over 30 seem to be more cautious, so mostly there are students in there,” Huggard said.

Lisette Colon, a sophomore at Manhattan College who has been working out in the fitness center since last year, has returned to the gym since it’s reopening and believes that the college is doing the best it can. 

“I do believe the conditions are effective, I just wish the workers had more hours to clean because I know the gym can be very busy specifically during the afternoon since usually everybody would be done with classes,” Colon said.

A primary concern that Colon had with the fitness center is the limitation of fitness equipment due to social distancing. Not all of the machines operate due to social distancing.

“Let’s say I want to use the StairMaster, there will only be like one of them open, and there will be like 20 people trying to use it,” Colon said. “So it makes it going to the gym longer because you have to be waiting after the person. You also have to wait for them to clean down the stairs and then you have to also clean down it yourself, just for some sanitation reasons.”

Colon also recognized that while masks are mandatory, they limit her ability to work out.

“I had to keep the mask on above my nose but if I’m running or jogging it’s been difficult to breathe,” Colon said. “It just gets uncomfortable, especially since I get sweaty around my face. This problem doesn’t motivate me as much to go to the gym because it’s a problem that I don’t want to handle every single morning.” 

She also noted that due to restrictions, there has been a great number of changes in the center. Nonetheless, she understands the limitations that come with it. 

“Currently, we don’t have a drinking fountain, nor a refill for bottles, I had to step outside the fitness center to refill the water bottle.” Colon said. “Last year they used to hand out towels for when we got sweaty and we needed to clean up our face, they don’t do that anymore. It’s small things like that really make a difference. They also had the shower and seats in the bathroom, and they don’t have that anymore. Along with this, the capacity of the bathroom is also smaller, so we have to wait for people to come out of the bathroom to change.” 

The fitness center will only be open until Thanksgiving break when it will shut its doors again.