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Rams Head Recreation Center reopens as state transitions to phase 2.5

A student works out at the Ram's Head Recreation Center on Monday, Sept. 28, 2020.

Rams Head Recreation Center reopened for students Monday as the state moved to Phase 2.5 of reopening. The gym implemented a number of precautions and guidelines to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Students are required to reserve a time slot, answer screening questions and complete the University Environment, Health and Safety COVID-19 Wellness Self-Check before entering the facility, according to facility guidelines. Students will present their One Card, proof of reservation and completion of the Wellness Self-Check before using the gym.

Will Rickman, UNC Campus Recreation’s facility operations coordinator for South Campus, said employees are required to complete the same assessment before their shifts. 

He also said employees are required to wear masks for the duration of their shifts, and gloves are available for those interested.

If a student fails to show up within the first hour of their reserved time slot, they are considered a “no-show.” After two "no-shows," patrons will lose reservation privileges for a week, according to facility guidelines. 

“The biggest difference is that we’ve just got all the equipment spread out to maintain social distance guidelines,” Kyndal Robbins, a student employee at Rams Head Recreation Center, said. “A lot of the cardio equipment is on the gym floor, so then all of upstairs is the weights. We’ve used tapes on the floor to make grids that are socially distanced.”

The guidelines mandate that within the facility, all exercise equipment will be positioned six to 10 feet apart. Students will be required to stay six feet apart from others at all times, including those they arrive to the gym with. Masks are required within the building at all times except for especially strenuous activities. 

“I’m excited to be able to get back in the gym, and get back gains I lost over the summer,” Graham Caron, a junior computer science major, said. 

While the facility itself has opened back up, Rams Head Recreation Center is currently not offering in-person group fitness activities.

“We still have not been given approval from the University to restart in-person programs,” Lindsay Brookey, assistant director of fitness and wellness at UNC Campus Recreation, said. “Our group fitness classes, intramural sports, club sport practices on campus are still on pause.”

She said she is hoping to get approval to restart these programs this week, but they would begin with only outdoor programs.

“Our students and employees, they just felt more comfortable with outdoor classes,” she said.

Brookey, who also coaches a virtual Heel Fit group training class, said the thing she missed the most about in-person fitness classes was the sense of community they provided.

“For a coach or instructor, a part of what we love about this work is interacting with participants,” she said. “Talking with them before and after class, engaging with them during class, seeing people smiling, enjoying what they’re doing and having fun. That’s a big part of why we love what we do.”

Even without in-person group classes, Rickman said some students are eager to return to an active lifestyle.

“We have filled up all of our reservation slots,” Rickman said. “We filled all of them up today and I believe that they’re all filled tomorrow. We open registration 48 hours in advance and they are filling up relatively quickly.”

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