New Rec Center app

Eva Philips, Staff writer

COVID-19 has affected all facets of campus life, from dining to residence life to classes. Likewise, the campus Rec Center has made numerous changes to its rules and policies to maintain the health and safety of Mercyhurst students and staff.

Some changes are more significant, like the new requirement for students to book a workout session via the Vagaro platform ahead of time to make sure that the Rec Center is not overcrowded.

Vagaro is available as an app and on a desktop browser, making it easily accessible to students looking to reserve a spot.

All students need to do is create an account and search for Mercyhurst’s Rec Center. From there, a list of one-hour sessions will appear. The maximum number of students allowed to work out at any given time is 40, and once a time slot is filled, Vagaro will indicate that there are no spots remaining.

The app’s interface makes it easy for students to plan their workouts in advance, but it is important to keep in mind that workout times are available on a first-come, first-served basis. Signing up a day or more in advance is recommended.

Additionally, once workout classes begin in the coming weeks, students will be able to reserve a spot in classes from the convenience of the app.

This is not the only precaution in place, though. Once students enter the Rec Center for their workout, they are assigned a cubby or locker for their belongings. The Rec Center provides each student with a disinfectant spray bottle, and paper towel dispensers have been placed around the workout floor to encourage students to comply with the instruction to wipe down weight equipment before and after use.

Machines are spaced out to adhere to social distancing protocols, and students must wear a mask at all times, just as they would anywhere else on campus.

The question is, have students been faithful to these policies?

Joseph Schoenleber, Rec Center manager and head Strength and Conditioning coach, answers with a resounding yes.

“The students have been great,” Schoenleber said. “I’m really proud of our student body and how they’re responding, wanting to be part of the solution instead of part of the problem.”

Schoenleber looked to Division I schools for guidance in formulating safety policies.

“By researching their model and how that model fit into our needs and molding our protocols here at Mercyhurst, we can keep our clientele as safe as possible, but also give them the opportunity to be healthful,” Shoenleber said.

Now as much as ever, physical activity is vital to individual health, both mental and physical. Exercising provides “mental release,” said Shoenleber. “Mental health is in some cases even more important than physical health.”

“Being physically active is almost the ultimate medicine,” he said, pointing to the wide-ranging benefits of exercise, from increased bone density to a heightened immune system.

For this reason, the Mercyhurst Rec Center serves an important role on campus. Its ability to reopen for the semester was important to Schoenleber and others on the committee charged with guiding the process.

“I’m very grateful to all the people who worked so hard to make it happen,” Schoenleber said. “These are people that, behind the scenes, made this possible.”

From residence life to the athletics department to the administration, collaboration and hard work was key in formulating protocols and preparing the Rec Center for students.

The changes might seem intimidating or stringent, but they are crucial in allowing the Rec Center to continue to provide the same benefits as always: a positive environment in which students can have fun and improve their health.