On September 23, students at Fairfield University received an email from the Office of Student Engagement newsletter “#TheWeekender”, which stated that “due to overcrowding and lack of distancing social and masks, the capacity of the weight room has been significantly reduced.
The email lacked specific details and also incorrectly stated that capacity limits had been adjusted in other areas of the facility, according to Leslie C. Quick’s recreation director, Jr. Recreation Complex, Eli Olken-Dann.
He said “# TheWeekender’s” inaccuracies in updating the RecPlex COVID guidelines simply pointed to outdated policies. In addition, the weight room is the only space in the RecPlex that still has a capacity limit related to COVID.
In an email sent to faculty and staff on August 23, the University recommended that indoor space capacity be reduced to 75% of what it was before the pandemic, according to recreation director Eli Olken. -Dann.
He explained that out of caution, the RecPlex reduced the capacity of the weight room, which can normally hold around 50 people, to 25. However, the capacity was quickly increased to 30 as students repopulated the campus.
Last week, the weight room saw its capacity increase, this time to 35 people in the area, due to what Olken-Dann observed to be the students following the rules.
In the weight room, there are 35 combination weight training equipment, including selection and plate loading machines, in addition to free weights. Olken-Dann and the rest of the recreation staff viewed this capability as a âsweet spot,â allowing for one machine per person.
Although the weight room’s capacity limit is as high as it has been for many months, students report facing long wait times, which creates frustration.
The RecPlex reports that it proactively engages with waiting students and encourages them to use other equipment while they are on hold.
Some students have acquired outdoor gym memberships due to RecPlex’s security protocols. Senior Brett McGrath spoke about how big crowds and long lines pushed him to train off campus.
âI decided to join a gym elsewhere because it’s more convenient to be able to go there when I want without queuing like at RecPlex,â said McGrath. “I try to go to the gym between classes and having to factor in an unknown time to stand in line doesn’t make sense.”
Likewise, Allison Krekoska ’22 followed suit.
âIt was already difficult to find time in my schedule to go to the gym, let alone having to wait for the equipment and then shorten my time in the gym,â she added: âThe masks were also quite frustrating when it comes to the gym especially when running so I chose to go to a gym that doesn’t require masks and all the equipment is ready to use.
Olken-Dann realizes that some students may turn to other gym establishments, but his loyalty to the RecPlex reigns supreme.
âIn my opinion, the RecPlex is a premier recreational facility, equal to or better than anything students can find off campus,â he said.
The increase in wait times was undoubtedly inevitable, as the university population grows every year. This trend was anticipated by the RecPlex, and taken into consideration.
âDue to the fact that we had the largest freshman class in the history of the school, we felt it was important to provide as many opportunities and space as possible for students to s’ engage in the RecPlex, âsaid Olken-Dann.
To accommodate a growing community, training courses are held daily and are open to all students for registration.
In addition, there are around 80 cardio equipment available to students, as well as multi-purpose studios that can be comfortably used by around six people.
According to recreation staff, the busiest hours are between 3 p.m. and 7 p.m. Regardless of the time of day, capacity meters are updated every fifteen minutes by RecPlex staff and can be viewed on the Fairfield University app to avoid long queues.
Student monitors regularly patrol all areas of the RecPlex to ensure COVID guidelines are followed.
To create a space that protects the health and safety of RecPlex customers, the facility used various changes throughout the 2020-2021 academic year, but earlier this year those restrictions relaxed in conjunction with the University’s many other COVID restrictions.
Last year, Fairfield University assessed the risk of coronavirus on campus using status levels, and as the number of cases increased, those levels would change. Once the status levels reached “Code Orange”, intense mitigation strategies were implemented to keep cases at bay, including the closure of RecPlex and “all sports and intramural clubs. associates â. by Vice-President of Student Life Karen Donahue.
Although many procedures and guidelines have changed at RecPlex this year, masks are still mandatory in all interior spaces on campus, including the RecPlex. This in accordance with the Town of Fairfieldindoor mask policy, instituted on August 23, 2021.
While the mask mandate has been a point of contention on campus, not all students are opposed to wearing masks during training.
âIt’s a bummer that we have to wear masks,â said Nicholas DiStefano ’24, âbut whatever the University’s mandates we have to do. If we’re vaccinated, I don’t have it. feeling like I have to wear it but I’ll do it anyway if that’s the rule.
Junior Claire Bellucci commented: âThe RecPlex is a great place to relax. I think the classes are so much fun and useful. I don’t mind wearing the masks too much because the gym is so crowded. “
Second-year student Matthew Delaney is more embarrassed by these mandates. âI thought getting the shot would help get rid of masks faster, especially in the gym. When I train, it’s hard to breathe fresh air when I have the mask on, âhe said.
At the moment, “The hot tub, water fountains, towel service and yoga mats will not be available until further notice,” according to the Fitness and leisure page on the official Fairfield website.
Students can keep up to date with RecPlex’s COVID by visiting fairfield.edu.