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Campus Recreation reopens facilities to help students stay active

Cardio machines lie on the basketball courts in Ram’s Head gym on UNC’s campus on Feb. 6, 2021.

To kick off the spring semester, Campus Recreation has reopened many of its facilities for UNC students and staff. These facilities include a variety of indoor, outdoor and virtual options for students to participate in.

Bill Goa, director of Campus Recreation, said the goal is to offer every student an opportunity to safely stay active during the pandemic.

“We have put into place measures to keep our participants and staff as safe as possible,” Goa said. “Our number one priority is our UNC students.”

What are the safety protocols? 

In the reopened indoor facilities, students have access to a variety of exercise equipment, including resistance training, cardiovascular and weight training. Students are also able to sign up for weekly in-person group fitness classes and training programs.

However, in order to use in-person equipment, students must follow Campus Recreation’s facility guidelines. Before visiting a facility, students must pre-register on the UNC Rec app or the Stay Active website. 

Each indoor facility has a two-hour time slot in which students can register for 48 hours in advance. When patrons arrive, they must check in with their UNC One Card and answer a short wellness questionnaire. After checking in, students may use any equipment in the facility as long as they wear a mask and maintain a social distance of at least six feet apart.

To help communicate facility guidelines to students, Campus Recreation has created an acronym — S-A-F-E:  Social/Physical Distancing, Access to Opportunities, Follow the Policies and Engage with Caution.

“S-A-F-E will pretty much answer any questions as to what we allow or don’t allow,” Goa said. “It helps both participants and student staff make safety upfront and foremost.”

In accordance with the Campus Recreation guidelines, staff have a cleaning protocol for in-person facilities. Equipment is sterilized after each use and also during an hour-long deep clean period between each of the two-hour time blocks, Goa said. During the deep clean, facilities are shut down, and students aren’t allowed to access them until the start of the next block.

Mira Ward, a student staff member, said she values the efforts both student and professional staff have put toward enforcing the facility guidelines.

“The professional staff care about us so much,” Ward said. “They really want to make sure that their employees are put first, and with reopening they’ve made a lot of opportunities to get us more hours.”

What in-person programs are being offered? 

Campus Recreation offers an Outdoor Education Center (OEC) for students that prefer to exercise outdoors. The OEC includes fitness options such as multi-use hiking trails, sand volleyball and an 18-hole disc golf course.

David Rogers, assistant director of outdoor recreation, said one of the ways the OEC is unique is that it doesn’t require a pre-registration process because its facilities are outdoors.

“The benefit for us is we are outside, so most of everything we do is COVID compliant by nature,” Rogers said.

The OEC also provides students with special outdoor events throughout the academic year, which includes rock climbing, zip-lining and campus hikes. 

On Feb. 13, the OEC will start its special events calendar by hosting Carolina Compass, a 3-day in-person experience. The program introduces students to UNC’s Carolina Adventures, which includes rope challenge courses, climbing walls and a 1200-foot zip-line. During the Carolina Compass Experience, students will be split into eight-person groups to participate in kayaking, nature trail walks and various challenge courses.

“Carolina Compass allows students to bond with other Carolina students,” Rogers said. “It’s a great opportunity to get to know people in a new community who are basically in the same boat you are – in this case, literally and figuratively.”

What will virtual fitness activities look like? 

Along with in-person programming, Campus Rec also has online resources for remote-only students to stay active. For fitness groups, students have two options: virtual live and on-demand classes. These sessions include a variety of workouts, such as dance, yoga and cardio.

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Over the course of the pandemic, Ally Pagans, a student at UNC, said she used Campus Rec’s virtual high-intensity interval training classes to work out with her mom. Pagans would attend both virtual Facebook live sessions, and use the on-demand classes on her own time.

“It’s a great way to keep people engaged in Campus Rec,” Pagans said. “Especially for people that aren’t on campus – they have opportunities to make use of the classes."

This semester, Campus Recreation is also providing an outreach program for students impacted by the pandemic, Goa said. The program is a combination of both physical and social activities, which is made accessible to students via the resources link when they check into quarantine residence halls.

“This was done with Student Health, Campus Recreation and (Carolina) Housing,” Goa said. “A team effort to try to provide more intentional programming for our students who happen to be in quarantine or isolation.”

What's next?

In the upcoming semester, Campus Recreation is hoping to use student feedback to determine what new events and programming will be scheduled in the future, Rogers said.

“Engaged users of the Stay Active website would be a really great resource for Campus Rec, to let us know what programming pieces the community thinks we’re missing,” Rogers said. “We are one Carolina campus community, and it depends on all of us to make it grow.”

Students can register for Campus Recreation activities here