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Safe, smart, and something: the Rec Center reopens

The Physical Education, Athletics and Recreation Department (PEAR) is working hard to ensure Carls have the opportunity to safely exercise during this unprecedented fall term. 

Mikki Showers, Carleton’s director of Recreational Sports and Manager of the Recreation Center, is thrilled to see students once again enjoying The Rec. Her mantra is the 3 S’s: “Safe, Smart, and Something.” The “something,” Showers noted, “comes from our hope as a department to provide something for our students in a time when so many things are not available.”

Something is better than nothing, and five weeks into Fall Term, one thing is clear: students are spending more time in their dorm rooms than ever. With large social gatherings discouraged and intramural activities severely limited, many students are left with pent-up energy. 

With thanks to plenty of effort on behalf of the PEAR department, the Rec Center is now available to students looking to blow off some steam – whether it’s lifting weights, running on a cardio machine, shooting hoops or rock climbing.

There are however, some restrictions. Students are required to sign up in advance for an hour and fifteen minute time slot, and must present their health screening greendot upon entrance into the Rec Center. Time slots fill up fast, so students are encouraged to sign up early and plan their workouts in advance. Sessions are offered as early as 6:30 in the morning and as late as 9:00 in the evening. And, of course, like any other common space on campus, students are required to wear masks and maintain social distance. 

In addition to cardio and weight training, students can make reservations for rock climbing at the Boulder Cave, reserve a basketball hoop for individual use or reserve a tennis court for a socially distanced match. As of Monday, October 12 access to locker rooms, showers and towels were made available. 

“Getting the Rec open again has required a lot of hard work and planning, but when I see students’ smiles (at least what I think are smiles behind their masks), I realize it’s worth it,” said Showers.

After meeting numerous times throughout August and September with the Return to Campus Team, the Environmental Health and Safety staff, and the custodial staff, the PEAR department has ensured the Rec Center is on par with health guidelines. 

“We knew we needed to align our phases and plans with the college’s rules, and covenant, as well as the Center for Disease Control and the Minnesota Department of Health. With all this in mind, we best utilized the facility’s square footage and agreed upon appropriate safety measures.”

Upon entering the weightroom, students should expect to notice some differences. For example, since aerobic exercise requires exertion and heavy breathing for prolonged periods of time, cardio machines have been strategically spaced ten feet apart from one another, with some machines rotating in and out of use to prevent the spread of COVID-19 particles.

At the end of each session, a 15 minute disinfecting cycle is built in, where trained staff wipe down mats and dumbells. Meanwhile, an electrostatic sprayer, worn as a backpack, is employed to clean large pieces of equipment. When doors close at 10pm, the custodial staff performs one last clean, focusing on high touch-areas.

“I really do feel like the Rec Center is a safe place for students to get exercise,” said Showers. “We have an incredible group of student staff, custodial staff and building supervisors who take making the Rec Center clean and safe a serious priority.” As the rigorous demands of coursework pile up midway through the term, it’s important for Carls to build in time for health and wellbeing. By carefully complying with COVID-19 protocols, the Rec Center has done its job in making itself available to students—just don’t forget to sign up for an appointment in advance.

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