By: Shannon Francolini, News & Managing Editor
Students at Plymouth State University have been itching for even the slightest news that will decide when the Fitness Center plans to reopen. Many students were just getting into their daily routines or igniting new ones when the COVID-19 pandemic rotated the old ‘normal’ a full 360. Whether you were living a healthy lifestyle or learning how to, the regulations of the COVID-19 pandemic have not been very easy to follow. Gym’s and fitness centers had shut down, sports were cancelled, and the only physical activity obtainable could be found in the environment around us. Social distancing has been a tough route of navigation specifically for close-knit environments, similar to PSU’s Fitness Center. Regardless of the threats that constantly seem to come about, there is always ambition for a better tomorrow, and that begins now.
After meeting with Drew Guay, Director of Campus Recreation here at PSU, there was a ray of clarity brought to this cloud of uncertainty we have all been living in. A typical hot spot oncampus, the Fitness Center in the Hartman Union Building had been unavailable to students for an extended period of time. It is definitely not an easy task to accommodate all 3,829 of us, but the Campus Recreation Program is working alongside PSU to provide the absolute best for their students in every way possible. Drew Guay assured Plymouth State that the, “students’ safety is the number one priority”, and that remains solid for any and every decision moving forward. Campus Recreation wants to make this happen just as much as we know that it needs to. But as astudent body, we need to work together to make this transition simple, safe, and as positive as possible.
Starting Tuesday, September 22nd, Campus Rec has accumulated what they call an ‘InitialPilot Group’. This group will get the privilege of experiencing the first phase of the official reopening of the Fitness Center in the HUB. This will be the first test run for faculty to understand any changes or tactics they need to implement regarding the inevitability that can surround the pandemic. Regardless of the results from the initial pilot group, this epidemic remains just as prevalent and terrifying. Campus Recreation stays mindful about the best way to accommodate students while still remaining cautious for everyone’s health and safety. As faculty they can only do so much, but as students, we have more responsibility to this campus than anyone else.
In order for students to gain access to the Fitness Center, we need to continue to make smart decisions on and off campus. Similar to other locations around the world, we still need to follow pandemic precautions to avoid further, or even worse, another outbreak. As much as we all have the right to live our own lives, we must remain patient, choose to cooperate, and activelywork toward a better future. The Campus Recreation Director, Drew Guay, couldn’t have been more honest when he admitted “for this to be possible, we all need to take care of each other.” Staff and faculty have been working day in and day out to make this even the slightest possibilityfor us, but now we need to step up as students and do our part.
Planning for this upcoming Monday, September 28th, the Fitness Center will begin to slowly allow twelve students in at a time to use the fitness equipment. It is not just as simple as walking into the Fitness Center with your student I.D. anymore. Due to social distancing guidelines, there are specific rules and limitations implemented for the better safety of everyone. Via Campus Recreation social media platforms, you can access the link provided below, followed by a quick survey. This short questionnaire, referred to as the ‘Lottery’, will help faculty understand your standpoint on campus as a student, and as a member of the Plymouth community. Campus Rec is interested in understanding individual desire for what the Fitness Center means to you, and how positive and productive you will spend your time there. These surveys are taken very seriously and will help predetermine your access to the Fitness Center. Very similar to its name, this ‘Lottery’ process will select students at random. The process may take some patience, but once selected, you will be granted access to reserve a 45-minute time slot, this allotted period of time allows for more students to have access throughout the day. All students must attend a meeting on gym expectations to completely understand the impact you have and the responsibility you obtain. There will be one entrance and one exit, to limit the flow of traffic in and out of the Fitness Center. Mandatory temperature check-ins when you first walk in and facial coverings must remain on at all times. Despite typical COVID-19 precautions, The Fitness Center and Campus Recreation are relying on honesty and cooperation to “allow for positive social distancing while doing it the right way”, hopes Drew Guay, Rec Director of PSU.
We have all been waiting for this day since the second we all stepped foot back on campus. As everyone adjusts to these times independently, the one concept we can all agree on isthat we want Plymouth State to remain open. The Fitness Center on campus is beneficial, as some would even say essential, to not only students’ mental health, but even academic performance. Although there is access to public fitness centers, PSU coordinated outdoor fitness sessions, and full access to the beautiful scenery of New Hampshire, there is no better feeling then having access to a gym right here at home. As long as we hold ourselves accountable, hold peers accountable, and continuously do our part amidst this chaos, we can anticipate for a future we have long been yearning for.
It may not be what you expected, but even the Director of Campus Recreation expressed how “the shutdown has been just as frustrating for us as it has for all of our students.” Although this is not the semester any of us anticipated, Campus Recreation along with other departments and organizations on campus are working tirelessly to give us what we deserve. All they ask in return is patience, honesty, and positivity despite such unusual circumstances. While we all strivetowards similar goals distinctively, the one common denominator we can focus more on is the importance of safety and its traditional role here on campus. Campus Recreation is staying optimistic towards unpreventable circumstances, as they arise, in a very prudential regard. As students continue to take precautions sincerely, future advancements for the Fitness Center are looking equally promising.