gym safety covid

Iowa State's gyms have adapted many COVID-19 precautions over the year to promote safety for gymgoers.

Iowa State’s Recreation Services have adapted many different COVID-19 precautions in the gyms on campus to maintain the safety of gymgoers and staff.

Michael Giles, the director of Recreation Services, said there are many components involved to ensuring a safe environment for those trying to attend their facilities in person.

“We require all participants to wear a mask inside the facility, even while working out and participating in programs,” Giles said. “If we didn’t have masks, we would be forced to separate people on a much larger scale than we already do.”

Giles also said the cleaning was another very important component to preventing the spread of COVID-19.

“We ask our participants to wipe down a piece of equipment before and after they [use] it. Then, our team comes around and does additional cleaning to keep everything [sanitary],” he said.

Giles also said when they first opened the facilities in the fall, every piece of machinery and equipment was spaced 6 feet apart to abide by safety regulations.

“We started off with following university guidelines around the Cyclones Care [campaign],” he said. “You’d like to think that everyone cleans the equipment after using it, but that doesn’t always happen, which is why we ask that you clean before using the machinery as well.”

Grace Lerette, a sophomore majoring in animal science, said the protocols that Cyclones Care had set in place for in-person activities seemed to be working well at Iowa State’s workout facilities.

“The cleaning protocols seem to be working. Usually, we spray and wipe the equipment with spray bottles when using the equipment. I think that everyone hopes things will go back to normal after the pandemic, but right now, the safety precautions have been pretty bearable and don’t bother me much,” Lerette said.

Rec Services offers online fitness classes for those who do not wish to attend in-person fitness classes. 

“We started this process in March when everything shut down. Our staff reached out to students very quickly and provided online fitness classes and intramural programs,” Giles said. “I think our team has been very innovative and creative with what we were able to offer. They were able to provide opportunities to stay active safely at home.”

Lerette said she has done several online classes to stay active in her own time, especially at the start of the pandemic.

While some students attended online fitness classes, others participated in online challenges and intramural sports.

“About a year ago, we started offering certain esports through our intramural program, but our team continued to add more esports as time went on,” Giles said. “We also offered online challenges, such as best trick shot, to students who wanted to stay active and have fun.”

While Iowa State’s gyms — Lied and State — have been able to provide all of these classes and equipment, Giles said in-person attendance is down 50 percent compared to attendance before the pandemic. 

Blake Miller, a sophomore majoring in pre-business, said in-person attendance at the gyms also depends on the time of day.

“I usually go to State around midday and it can be pretty busy. The equipment is usually occupied so sometimes I have to wait a few minutes to use that equipment,” Miller said.

While Outdoor Recreation Services does not offer extended trips at the moment, there are other facilities that students can still use.

“The climbing wall is still active, and students can check out equipment to use on their own time,” Giles said.

Giles also said that although it can be difficult to wear your mask while staying active, it is important to maintain those protocols set in place to minimize the spread of COVID-19 and that Rec Services has been able to offer all of these opportunities because of those protocols.

“Wearing masks and following safety precautions is necessary to ensure that we can provide a safe environment to all those who attend our facilities,” Giles said.

More information about Iowa State’s gyms, including a list of fitness classes, intramural sports and other recreational information can be found on the Recreation Services website.  

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