University Intramural and Recreational Sports facilities are operating with modified protocols this semester due to COVID-19, including limited hours and required reservations by students and members for certain spaces. By and large, individuals have abided by masking and sanitation requirements — among other new regulations — and outdoor IM-Rec activities and facilities have grown in popularity.
The Aquatic and Fitness Center and North Grounds Recreation Center have been operating with modified hours and required reservations for the weight room and pool, while Slaughter Recreation Center is closed with small windows of operation for the Climbing Center by reservation. Students can make reservations online.
IM-Rec has taken numerous precautions to eliminate the spread of the virus at facilities, including the requirement of face masks unless using cardio equipment or swimming, touchless entrances and the sanitation of equipment before and after use by both equipment users and IM-Rec staff. Students must also complete the daily Hoos Health Check — which is verified through Student IDs upon entry — before being permitted to enter IM-Rec facilities.
State and University guidelines require that individuals maintain a 10-foot distance while exercising, which prompted many changes in IM-Rec facility operations and programs — equipment is now spread at least 10 feet apart.
Certain intramural sports such as basketball and soccer were prevented from continuing this semester due to the close-contact nature of these sports. However, other IM sports like tennis and kickball, which allow individuals to maintain the required distance, were permitted to continue.
Erica Perkins, associate athletic director and executive director of IM-Rec Sports, said that individuals have been abiding by the University’s regulations and have been respectful of other IM-Rec facility users and IM-Rec guidelines.
“Compliance has been excellent in all of our facilities and programs,” Perkins said. “We have staff monitoring each space to ensure proper cleaning of equipment before and after use as well as compliance with mask and distancing policies.”
The current intramural leagues that are operating are either almost or completely full, according to Perkins. IM-Rec has been offering in-person and virtual group exercise classes both indoors and outdoors. IM-Rec facilities and sports are exempt from the new five-person gathering rule as well as other gathering rules imposed by the University, which has allowed indoor and outdoor activities involving groups of greater than five people to continue.
Despite limits on operations during COVID-19, Perkins said that IM-Rec has made efforts to expand opportunities for staying active this semester and that while participation at gyms has been limited, outdoor program areas are thriving. Outdoor fields and courts require reservations, but also serve as a space where proper social distancing can more easily be observed.
“Physical activity is a healthy, necessary outlet and we are doing everything we can to continue offering options to exercise and recreate safely,” Perkins said.
Fourth-year Commerce student Ahmad Hasanian has been going to the gym six days a week. He said that while he has concerns about the spread of COVID-19, he feels relatively comfortable using IM-Rec facilities.
“It’s definitely something that I worry about and continue to worry about, but after going the first few times, I found that the precautions the gym takes, like wiping down machines before and after every use, made me feel fairly safe,” Hasanian said.
Hasanian said that he has not found IM-Rec facilities to be particularly overcrowded, noting that when a gym reaches a certain capacity, students and members must wait in line outside to be let in one at a time once an individual leaves. Perkins noted that capacity at IM-Rec facilities is limited to 60 people at any given time, “so that movement throughout the building enables proper distancing.”
Hasanian also said that other gym attendees are abiding by masking rules and that if someone does have their mask off, facility staff will ask them to put it back on.
“I don’t feel much more at risk at the gym versus other places around Grounds,” Hasanian said.