More than a week after New York State Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced that gyms could reopen across New York state on Aug. 24, Binghamton University decided to reopen the Recreation Center on Sept. 2 at the East Gym despite ongoing concerns about the coronavirus pandemic.
The reopening comes with a number of new guidelines designed to guarantee participant safety and maintain facilities for intended use. New York state gyms require masks to be worn at all times. This excludes bandanas, neck gaiters and buffs. Yellow lines surround socially distanced workout equipment to denote where an individual can stand while using the equipment.
Additionally, online reservations are mandatory to utilize FitSpace and the basketball courts in the East Gym. Students are allotted 55-minute and 45-minute time slots respectively to complete their workout routine.
The time restriction has posed some issues for students who regularly attend the gym. Matthew Leconte, a junior majoring in political science, said he cannot complete his entire workout routine under the new time limit.
“I don’t like the time restraint,” Leconte said. “I personally cannot get my entire workout routine done within 55 minutes. I usually work out, leave and finish at my house. It is definitely frustrating.”
Samantha Cotes, a sophomore majoring in biomedical engineering, said although she likes the health regulations at the gym, the appointment system is difficult.
“For me, personally, I like to go back and forth between cardio and weights,” Cotes said. “When you set up your reservation you can either reserve the cardio space or the weights space. This poses an inconvenience because I like to do a little bit of both throughout my workout.”
Sonia Nelson, a junior majoring in nursing, said she feels comfortable with the requirements.
“I feel comfortable because I follow safety precautions, including wearing a mask at all times and socially distancing,” Nelson said. “I think if people can be safe while working out and just do their part for a short period of time, the risk of spreading COVID-19 will be reduced dramatically.”
However, Leconte is apprehensive about using the East Gym for the remainder of the semester.
“Personally I do not feel comfortable visiting the gym because of student negligence,” Leconte said. “Students often wear masks below their nose and fail to socially distance.”
Despite varied reactions to the East Gym’s recently imposed rules, students view it as a good alternative to working out at home.
“I think it’s worth going to the gym with the new conditions,” Nelson said. “As much as you can do things in a room, I think people are seeking the same social interactions at the gym as they are in a classroom setting.”
Reasons for the delayed reopening were unclear. Branden Fernandez, a personal trainer and a senior majoring in business administration, said the postponement was to familiarize student staff with newly developed rules, sign-ins and marketing. However, Aaron Daley, a front desk employee of the gym and a junior majoring in business administration, attributed the delayed opening to ensuring student safety.
“The opening of the East Gym was pushed to a later date to ensure that there would not be a spike in the number of positive cases,” Daley said. “In the gym, we’re all sharing the same equipment. We’re constantly touching the same things and being close to one another. New York had an excellent turn-around so [BU President Harvey Stenger] wanted to enforce the proper guidelines before reopening.”