Several photos have emerged showing students breaking social distance guidelines. Crowded parties at the LiterBoard Bar and large social gatherings in the Fort paint a grim picture. But what about the risk when on campus?
As gathering places with many “high touch” areas and people walking around, gyms are a potential high-risk area for COVID-19. UT’s TRECs is no exception.
So, how well has TRECS been operating for the past few weeks?
Joseph Godek, senior in supply chain and employee at the TRECS, gave some insight into how things have changed.
Since the start of classes, the capacity limit has changed significantly.
“The biggest change that’s happened has been the capacity limit — 400 to 200 people. We’ve moved some of the equipment from downstairs to here (the first floor), mostly dumbbells and benches,” Godek said.
Only cardio and weight machines were moved for distance prior to free weights getting the same treatment. Now, one can find both cardio machines and free weights on the TRECS’ second floor, in two repurposed basketball courts.
As for how students have used the TRECS, no student expressed negative feelings. In fact, many praised TRECS and its staff for how well they’ve adjusted.
Danny Nguyen, sophomore business exploratory student, has visited the TRECS around 20 times this semester. He said the TRECSs has been clean and distanced whenever he’s been there.
“TRECS staff have been cleaning every couple of minutes, more equipment’s been spaced out and everyone’s been following the guidelines,” Nguyen said. “The only con to it are those people who use spotters or come in with friends. They're a little closer than one may like. Other than that, I think they have the place set out very good.”
Jordan Peterson, first year graduate student in agricultural economics, and Elizabeth Pereira, sophomore in nursing, said something to the same effect. They have been to the TRECS five times a week in the past two weeks, and have always seen staff and visitors cleaning and maintaining distance.
“Everyone distances, they (TRECS staff) make sure you do. Every time I come, there’s always staff cleaning, then I see people cleaning up after themselves with wipes. Plenty of people work out in groups, but it’s mostly pairs,” Peterson said.
“I’ve never seen anyone break social distancing,” Pereira said. “Everyone always has their masks on, the machines are always six feet apart and everyone kind of sticks to themselves.”
A major exception in these stories was small groups that consistently exercise together. This was also a common theme among student answers.
Taylor Long, freshman in kinesiology and Pereira’s roommate, said that most groups were no more than three people. Furthermore, those people were already with each other outside the TRECS.
“If anyone’s together, it’s just their roommates. So maybe two or three people working out together, but it's obvious they’re together outside of the gym.”
Kyle Dry, freshman in business analytics, and Mason Davis, freshman in mechanical engineering, were two roommates that concurred with this.
Regulars to the TRECS, they’ve never noticed anyone breaking distancing if they weren’t already close to each other.
“They’ve been maintaining social distance to the best of their abilities. It’s hard when you’re in a tight space, but the machines and weights have been moved around to encourage distance,” Dry said.
“It’s groups of two to three, kind of like us. We already live together in a dorm, so we can be closer to each other when working out because we’re already close in the dorm. If people are doing it that way, it’s fine.
“For the most part, everyone has been distancing, especially with how they’ve moved the benches and dumbbells into the upper areas of the gym. It’s been going pretty well,” Davis said.
“As long as you’re living with the people you’re working out with, it should be fine.”
Upon physically checking the gym during its busiest hours, it was found that things were not as bad as they have been made out to be. Every wipe station was stocked, every person was wearing masks properly and every person or group of people -- numbering no more than three -- were six feet apart.
The TRECS staff and users also followed every exercise set with a thorough cleaning.
Though one should always be careful and stay safe, things at the TRECS seem much safer than initially perceived.