For the first time since students left campus en masse in March, the Goergen Athletic Center (GAC) has opened its doors.

Subject to a number of hygiene and social distancing related restrictions, full-time students at UR are now able to use most of the athletic facilities at the GAC. Faculty, staff, and other members of the R club aren’t permitted to use the facilities at this time.

Gym-goers will not be able to use lockers or showers, but the restrooms inside will remain open. This allows Facilities to better maintain the sanitation of shared spaces. Anyone going to the GAC should come dressed in what they’re planning to work out in, although small bags will be allowed. There is also no towel service. Instead, containers of antibacterial wipes will be provided individually, and students should bring a small towel of their own if they’re worried about perspiration.

The GAC will have staff to monitor students to make sure all protocols are being followed. Mask wearing is of course paramount, but other restrictions may take students by surprise. For example, almost no activities may be done in pairs or groups. Table tennis, basketball, and volleyball must all be played solo. The only exceptions to this are tennis and badminton that can be played in pairs — the sports being fairly suitable for social distancing. The squash courts will remain closed with no news on their opening.

Reservations by phone are necessary to access the fitness center, and only 35 students will be allowed at a time. These reservations must also be made a day in advance. Other gymnasiums, including the indoor track, are available without reservation with the assumption that there is no risk of overcrowding.

Most of the equipment is still available in the fitness center. For the most part, students should be able to continue their workouts as they would in any other semester. The most notable difference is the restriction on the number of cardio machines — very few are available, although there are indoor rowers in the gymnasium on the main floor. There are no longer exercise mats in the fitness center, but there will be a space set aside for calisthenics and other body-weight workouts in the gymnasium as well.

For the time being, the pool is unavailable due to subpar ventilation. The University is currently determining how to adapt the pool area’s ventilation to fulfill COVID-19 safety requirements. Once that has been completed it is likely that students will be able to swim there again in small numbers.

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