On-campus gyms are still open for students as long as they follow the COVID-19 guidelines. Photo by James McIntosh.

Any other year, students would walk into Anna Fascitelli Fitness and Wellness Center or Mackal Field House and experience a gym flooded with people crowding all aspects of the facility. That took a dramatic change this semester as the school’s fitness facilities have had to adapt to new precautions and regulations due to COVID-19. 

On March 19, the coronavirus pandemic caused classes to go online and the University to close the doors of both gyms. Both facilities have been back up and running after not opening up until the last week of August. The open-door policy that students and community members are used to experiencing is no longer the case. 

“One of the most dramatic changes for us has been taking reservations to come into the facility,” Karlee Chimento, a program assistant at Anna Fascitelli said. “There’s only 50 slots, and the waitlist fills up pretty fast.”

 In the past, students could come during hours of operation and stay for however long meets their needs. Now, a reservation must be made through IMLeagues and students are only allotted an hour of time to work out. Upon arrival, you must present a green check mark on your phone that is emailed after you successfully pass the University’s health assessment. 

“Making a reservation has actually been better for my routine,” Taylor Hyde, a senior who has been using the gym all throughout her time at URI said. “It makes me stick to when I am going and there are less people in the gym than before.” 

Another change that has been made is the blockage of certain workout machines. This has been one of the many precautions taken to keep up with sanitation and adhere to social distancing guidelines. In the middle of the day, the plastic tarps covering machines not in-use are switched to the one directly next to that has been used the entire morning. This way, every piece of equipment is getting used safely throughout the day. 

There are also arrows taped on the floor directing patrons which way to walk to ensure everyone is keeping a proper distance away from one another. In addition, water fountains have been blocked off and locker rooms are closed. Sanitation has been a priority for the gym staff. 

“We shut down the gym in between sessions for a half hour to sanitize weights and machines with disinfectant spray and sanitation wipes,” Chimento said. “At the end of the night, we designate at least an hour to electrostatic spray all equipment so everything is clean the next day.” 

Just like anywhere on campus, a mask must be worn at all times in the gyms, whether one is just working out or taking a group exercise class. Hyde has mixed feelings about wearing one while exercising. 

“I can barely breathe when I exercise with a mask on, sometimes I feel like I am suffocating.” Hyde said, “But I feel safe and I know everything that is being done is for my own safety.”

The hours of operation at both facilities have also changed. Fascitelli Fitness and Wellness Center is open Monday through Friday 6:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m., Saturday 11:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. and Sunday noon to 8:30 p.m. 

The cardio room inside Mackal is open Monday through Friday from 6:30 a.m. to 7 p.m., Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. and is closed on Sunday. 

Group exercise classes are still being offered, and their schedules can be found on IMLeagues.