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The rec center reopened Feb. 16 at limited capacity and currently only for Western students

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Megan Nelson uses an elliptical machine at the Wade King Student Recreation Center on Feb. 22, 2021. The rec center reopened on Feb. 16, 2021 at limited capacity for Western Washington University students. // Photo by Sadie Fick

By Gaia Crans

Western Washington University students can now return to the Wade King Student Recreation Center as of Feb. 16 to work out through reservations and with many added protocols to keep students and staff safe.

Paul Goins, a fifth-year at Western majoring in manufacturing engineering and third-year rec center employee, said it’s a lot different now with the COVID-19 protocols, but “the weights are still heavy, even after all this time ...  It’s nice to have somewhere to blow off steam and get absolutely massive.”

Six sections are available at the rec center for reservation: weight, elliptical, bike, olympic and high-intensity interval training and two cardio zones, said Dane Siegfried, the operations and climbing wall coordinator with campus recreation services. 

He said the current maximum capacity is 45 patrons and that each of the sections depending on its size is limited from five to 10 people.

“Our ability to develop and implement strict safety measures combined with the positive health benefits we know we can bring to students made our team feel confident in the decision to reopen,” Siegfried said.

Siegfried said these safety measures include keeping reservation check-in times five minutes apart to help social distancing, requiring students and staff to fill out daily COVID-19 attestations, temperature checks conducted by staff members behind a plexiglass barrier and face coverings required at all times.

On top of this, Siegfried said patrons are given a sanitizing spray bottle and towel to wipe down any equipment after they’ve used it and staff conduct cleanings in between reservations with an additional 90-minute closure once a day to deep clean and disinfect. 

“You get your own spray bottle and towel to wipe down the equipment, and then the staff, after you leave, wipes it down, and they’re wiping down door handles all the time,” said Megan Nelson, a third-year majoring in elementary sociology who has frequented the rec center after its reopening. “I felt really safe every time I’ve been there.”

The staff cleanings are conducted using Protexus Electrostatic handheld and backpack sprayers with a PurTab sanitizing solution, Siegfried said.

“We’ve got some fun little sanitizing battery powered spray guns, they’re pretty awesome, you feel like a Ghostbuster,” Goins said, referring to the Protexus Electrostatic sprayers. 

Ben Riehl, a second-year majoring in political science who frequented the rec center before its closure but has not been since its reopening, said he’s not concerned about the rec center’s ability to keep students safe, his only qualm is that “it’s a little intimidating lifting with a bunch of seniors who can lift 400 pounds.”

Nelson said she has only had positive experiences being at the rec center since it has reopened. Her only disappointment is with the 45-minute session time limit.

“I think it’s frustrating to only get 45 minutes because of course I’d like to do more, but it has definitely been better than nothing,” Nelson said. “I’m just glad they are able to open again.”

Goins had a similar opinion and said it’s a “bummer” that sessions are only 45 minutes long, as he thinks it’s difficult to get everything done, but he thinks sessions will potentially be expanded as Whatcom County begins to progress through the reopening phases.

Siegfried said the 45-minute window was designed in accordance with the Phase 1 Healthy Washington reopening plan, and is being evaluated for spring quarter operations.

Despite the limitation of one 45-minute session in the one section per day students are allotted, Nelson said, “Every time I’ve looked there’s been plenty of times available so there’s a lot of opportunity to work out.”

Goins, having worked at the rec center for three years, said he thinks it’s one of the best jobs on campus because of how many close friends he has made there. 

Despite the lack of socializing currently at the rec center, Goins said the top-notch equipment is enough of a draw.

”It’s been one of the biggest highlights of my time here at Western is working at the rec center,” Goins said.
For more information about the reopening of the rec center and to reserve a spot visit the Campus Recreation Services site.


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