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E. L. Wiegand Fitness Center COVID-19 procedures

What is the Fitness and Recreational Sports Department doing to keep facilities safe, sanitary, organized and open? Facilities Coordinator Alex Baker breaks it down.

The E. L. Wiegand Fitness Center accumulates a great deal of traffic throughout the day. Before COVID-19 and the campus closure, the Fitness and Recreational Sports Department averaged about 2,800 student visits per day. Sweat is our business, so naturally we have to pride ourselves on making sure the facility is organized and sanitized. During this time, the FRS department wants to ensure our members that facility cleaning and preparation is being taken seriously.

Immediately following the closure, we went straight to work preparing for what opening the E. L. Wiegand Fitness Center would look like, and what COVID-19 procedures would need to be in place. We knew that we were going to change how we operated, and obtaining a tremendous stock pile of cleaning products as soon as possible was our number one goal.

In terms of cleaning our 108,000 square-foot facility, we added accessible cleaning stations in all locations where equipment needs to be wiped clean and sanitized. Available throughout the facility, you will see an increased number of disinfectant bottles, towels, cleaning wipes, and hand sanitizer. At the end of the night, our staff uses a disinfectant sprayer throughout the entire facility to disinfect and sanitize high-traffic areas. To add to our collection, the FRS department purchased an amazing cleaning tool called the CFE sanitation cart (imagine a paint sprayer). Our staff now uses this cart throughout the day to spray down exercise rooms and equipment in the facility. This has been a game-changer for us, and we plan to use on a regular basis.

When you have time to visit us this semester, the entrances and exits within the facility have changed. You will access the facility through the main entrance and exit out the north exit gates, passing through the fitness yard. To access other levels in the facility, you will use the south-end stairwell, and to exit other floors you will use the north-end stairwell. Elevators will remain in service, but we encourage members to use the stairs for social distancing, if they are able to.

We have removed all the furniture from the front lobby and affixed plexiglass around our front operations desk. At this time, we are only processing card transactions for payment. Per standard policy, everyone will need to swipe their university ID to gain entrance to the facility.

Face coverings are required in the facility. No exceptions. The university has a zero-tolerance policy for the abuse of face coverings. Honestly, working out in a face covering is not that bad; if I can do it, you can do it. Who knows, it may even make you stronger. Towels, belts, and gloves are out on the floor for members and are disinfected once returned. Locker rooms and hydration stations are closed, but bottle fill stations at the water fountains are available for use. BYOB- bring your own bottle.

Level one of the facility still provides a selection of fitness equipment to utilize. There is, however, restricted use of the Precor benches and Dynamic power racks, which have been cautioned off to symbolize that they are out of service at this time for social distancing purposes.

Group fitness classes (use of level one and level two) are still a “go,” and we have structured capacity to ten people per class to abide by social distancing guidelines. Wolfpack paw prints have been placed on the floors in the fitness rooms for social distancing. Classes have been scheduled an hour apart to allow for sanitization of equipment after each class. Our staff disinfects all group fitness rooms with our sanitation cart.

Level three underwent the greatest transformation to accommodate social distancing guidelines. We have expanded our selectorized equipment out onto the gymnasium floor, and the equipment is spaced ten feet apart. Every other piece of cardio equipment is closed and presents itself as a physical barrier that helps support distancing in the spaces. At this time, the basketball hoops are closed. Two Troy dumbbell racks have been moved onto the north conditioning floor, and adjustable benches have been strategically placed to space members out in the facility.

In the aquatic facility, located in Lombardi Recreation, all members are required to wear a face covering on the pool deck. Face coverings can be removed prior to entering the water. During this COVID-19 period, only one swimmer is allowed per lane and the pool is only used for fitness use and not social gatherings.

Our FRS team of student staff has done an amazing job in the preparation, equipment sanitization, policy and procedure enforcement, equipment set-up, and posting of signage throughout the facilities. We cannot thank them enough for their hard work, dedication, and assistance in preparing the facility for the start of fall semester. FRS staff will continue to work hard during the semester rotating throughout the facility, sanitizing equipment, and enforcing policy.  

As a department, were very fortunate to get a head-start on facility operations before the beginning of the semester with the COVID-19 procedures that are in place. Members have been open to the new procedures, and we have seen members take the initiative to clean equipment after use. Our department will continue to monitor and adjust as we get through this time. We are asking all members to be understanding and respectful of the new procedures and to wear face coverings correctly (fully covering the mouth and nose) at all times. We know it is going to be an adjustment, but at the end of the day, we are open and that is a big deal.

Alex Baker started his undergraduate degree at the University in 2009 and graduated in 2014 with a Bachelor of Science in Community Health Sciences. He worked as building staff at Lombardi Recreation and worked his way up to his current role as the facilities coordinator at the E. L. Wiegand Fitness Center.

Alex Baker
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