southwest

People stand in line to enter the weight room at the Southwest Recreation Center in Gainesville on Monday night, Sept. 21, 2020. According to recsports.ufl.edu, the weight room is open at limited capacity, however the website does not state how many people are allowed at one time.

After closing in Spring 2020, UF's gyms are open once again, but students looking to lift are in for a different experience.

Since the onset of COVID-19, staff members at Southwest Recreation Center and Student Recreation Center, two of the main UF student gyms, have implemented preventative measures to help students exercise safely. These include a screening process, a mask requirement at all times and limited hours and capacity.

During the screening process, staff members take the temperature of all patrons and ask about COVID-19 symptoms and exposure.

Staff members also do three times the amount of cleaning they usually do, and equipment is disinfected by a Clorox Total 360 System, a spray machine that sanitizes surfaces. This is done prior to opening at 6 a.m. on weekdays and 10 a.m. on weekends, said Marty Dempsey, the associate director for facility operations for all UF facilities. Gym hours have decreased due to COVID.

“We are continuing to assess our policies and our procedures to make sure that everybody has a safe and enjoyable time,” Dempsey said.

Equipment is spaced 6 feet apart. Each room has a capacity limit based on how large it is.

Gyms on campus have faced new hurdles due to the COVID-19 restrictions, like long lines and wait times to get in. If a room is full, students have to wait until others leave to enter.

Alexander Hanson, a 20-year-old UF criminology and psychology senior, went to Southwest Rec five days per week in the summer but has opted to an off-campus gym this Fall to escape the long wait.

“Oftentimes there’s a 40-minute plus line, which is just not something I’m necessarily willing to do,” he said.

To combat this, Dempsey said staff members began dispersing gym equipment to different areas so fewer students would try to use the same room. Additionally, live cameras on the RecSports website show how many people are in the gym in real time. 

“We are continuing to assess our policies and our procedures to make sure that everybody has a safe and enjoyable time,” Dempsey said.

Emily Lyssenko, an 18-year-old UF international studies freshman, has been going to Southwest Rec at least four times per week this Fall and feels it’s one of the safest places on campus because visitors are allowed to clean their own surfaces.

While Lyssenko is aware of the risks, she continues to exercise because it’s important not only for her physical health, but also her mental health.

“It’s kind of the break that I give myself in the day,” she said. “But I still think that I can lead in a way where I’m still taking all those precautions and I’m not giving up one for the other.”