by Malcolm Langner Contributing Writer
The UMF Fitness and Recreation Center (FRC) is taking measures to ensure a safe gym environment for its members, students, and employees.
Alison Thayer, Assistant Director of the FRC, believes that following policy changes during the pandemic start with the employees. “It has been very challenging for our staff to come up with new and creative ways to have PHE [physical education] under the new restrictions and guidelines,” Thayer said.
The FRC is now requiring face masks to be worn inside, litming guest numbers, and only allowing PHE students to visit once per week. At all times a professional staff member must be present. The latter of the regulations has prevented the FRC from opening on the weekends, “due to Coronavirus, we have lost three of our five professional employees, so we just haven’t had the manpower to do it,” Thayer said. “We are trying to get the regulations changed. UMF is the only UMaine system to enforce the guidelines. There already isn’t much available to do on the weekends on campus, and we feel like students and community members alike should have the opportunity to be here.”
Working at the FRC has changed for the student workers as well. “The biggest change for me is having to wear a mask all of the time and having to stay away from the people who go there,” said Derek Bowen. He is a senior at UMF, and was PHE instructor last semester, now he is completing a student internship. “We all have to be separated now and it’s been awkward getting adjusted to the new environment.” The changes don’t end there, “ So much of the work is done on my own now. On top of that, it’s hard to get a lot of hours because the FRC is closed on the weekends.”
Students working as employees at the FRC have experienced increased responsibility as well. In each section of the gym, an employee must be present to spray down and clean the used machines. “It used to be a very laid back place to work, but now we all have added responsibilities and must take precautions with anything that we do,” Bowen added.
As for students who regularly go to the FRC, such as Danny Terhune, a catcher for the Beavers baseball team, change has been evident. “I understand why they had to implement certain rules, but some of them really make it harder to get a good workout in,” Terhune said. “Masks make sense, but obviously I would be a lot happier not having to wear one.” Still, Terhune remained positive, “At least the FRC is open this semester, considering how tough things have been this year.”
Despite the hardships that have come from COVID-19, Thayer and the employees at the FRC are staying positive. “We have gone as far to have outdoor group fitness sessions, which seem to have gotten great responses from those who have attended,” Thayer said. “At this point, all we can do is try and push through as a community.”