Mississippi State University's Joe Frank Sanderson Center reopened for the fall semester with adaptations to meet health and safety guidelines for COVID-19. These changes include online or in-app reservations for individual and group workouts as well as distancing in group classes and heavy sanitation of classrooms and equipment.
According to a release from the university's website, face coverings are required inside the Sanderson Center as well as maintaining social distancing while inside and waiting to enter.
"Patrons are expected to practice social distancing of six feet while in the facility and while waiting to enter the facility," according to the press release. "For the safety and wellbeing of the MSU community, face coverings —covering both nose and mouth — are required at all times except when doing cardiovascular exercise and swimming."
There is a requirement for students to be 12 feet apart during group fitness classes and for them to provide their own equipment. Logan Reynolds, graduate assistant for group fitness at University Recreation, said the attendance for group classes has varied greatly, but the limitations for group class participants is also smaller than it has been in the past in order to help keep people separated and safe.
University Recreation has released an app called "MSState HealthyState". This app is used to sign up for a time slot for both individual workouts and group fitness classes, as well as other links featured in the app. Use of the app is encouraged, but signup for classes and individual workouts can also be completed online at the university recreation website.
Reynolds spoke highly of the sanitation being done to protect students who attend the group fitness classes and understands some students are apprehensive to attend.
"I want everybody to know that we are taking every precaution that we can to ensure the safety of the participants," Reynolds said. "We have gaps in between the classes so that we can clean the equipment. After each use, everything is completely wiped down by participants and then followed up with cleaning by our staff."
Although a lot of things look different due to COVID-19 and there are many downsides to how working out in the midst of the pandemic looks, one student mentioned it is easier to get around the gym with it being less crowded.
Oakley Camille, a sophomore accounting major from Hattiesburg, Mississippi, said the gym is easier to navigate this fall.
"It's a lot less crowded this year, for sure," Camille said. "Because you have to register for a time to go, there's less people at once, so you don't have to wait as long to use machines."
Summer Seage, the university's recreation facilities coordinator, agreed with Reynolds about how cautious the staff of the Sanderson Center are being with the proper sanitation and enforcement of guidelines to keep students safe during their time at the gym.
"In a time like this, having a safe and healthy outlet to de-stress is super crucial," Seage said. "I think the Sanderson provides opportunities for those activities."