Working Out During a Pandemic

By: Ben Blakely

The SERC located on the campus of SUNY Brockport.
(Photo by Matthew Yeoman – Yeoman Photography)

BROCKPORT, N.Y.— During a global pandemic with many quarantined at home, working out has not been on the top of student’s priority list. Even with fitness centers following mandated requirements from New York State and Governor Andrew Cuomo, many are avoiding gyms because of mandatory face-coverings and social distancing requirements. But amid the pandemic, the Special Events Recreation Center or SERC at SUNY Brockport is encouraging students to exercise.

Scott Haines, the director of campus recreation for SUNY Brockport, says students and staff are following the mandated safety protocols implemented by the college and the New York State Department of Health. 

“For the most part, the protocols have been very well received,” Haines said. “We have only had two instances where students have been frustrated about the mask-wearing and social distancing, but nothing major.”

After reopening on August 27th, the SERC has reduced its capacity to 33 percent or 65 people. Users have to show they have no symptoms of COVID-19 by filling out their daily symptom tracker and must wear a face covering over their nose while inside the facility.

The SERC has taped off certain sections of the fitness center to ensure social distancing. Only one person is allowed in the space at a time.
(Photo by Scott Haines)

Will Perrigo, a junior at SUNY Brockport, works out six days a week at the SERC and says he feels safe and goes the extra mile to keep everyone safe.

“I feel safe for the most part,” Perrigo said. “I usually see 90% of the people wipe down the equipment, and if I notice people forgetting to do it, I will wipe the equipment down myself.”

The post-cleaning of the machines is not something new in the SERC. The college spends roughly $6,000-$7,000 on Purell sanitizing wipes each year.

But it is not just the sanitizing wipes the SERC has implemented to keep their users protected from the virus. The fitness center closes from 1:00 p.m. to 2:00 p.m. every day for workers to spray down all the equipment with a cordless handheld sprayer filled with Vital Oxide.

Every day, the SERC uses the Victory Cordless Electrostatic Handheld Sprayer to disinfect their gym equipment to protect students.

The chemical is EPA-registered and kills 99.9% of bacteria on contact.

These cleaning guidelines seem to have kept most students and staff coming back to the SERC. In October, 10,943 people used the fitness center or about 365 people per day.

Cleaning guidelines aside, Perrigo says it is essential for him to work out to help clear his mind from the stress of college and the fear of being exposed.

“For me, it is very important mainly because of the stress relief I feel after a good workout,” Perrigo said. “Working out is how I reflect throughout the day, and it lets me channel my emotions in a healthy way.”

Through the pandemic, Perrigo has continued his fitness journey. Paired with a healthy diet, he has lost over 80 pounds and does not plan on stopping anytime soon.

But these enhanced cleaning guidelines for gyms around the country have not stopped people from purchasing home gym equipment.

The fear of contracting COVID-19 in gyms has caused many to create alternative ways of staying fit, such as working out from home with resistance bands and yoga mats.
(Photo by Kelly Sikkema via unsplash)

During the early months of the pandemic in March and April, dumbbell sales increased by 1,980 percent compared to the same period in 2019. Also, weight plate sales surged by 1,355 percent.

Shay Gauthier, a senior at SUNY Brockport, says she has preferred to work out from home even before the pandemic.

“Working out is such a personal thing for me. Unfortunately, there is a certain atmosphere that exists where people are in competition either with everyone else around them or they do it for the wrong reasons,” Gauthier said.

But students may have to find alternative ways to work out now due to recent developments. With SUNY Brockport elevating their COVID-19 level to yellow, the SERC has officially closed for the rest of the semester.

With rising COVID-19 cases in the Brockport area, these treadmills may not be used again until 2021.
(Photo by Scott Haines)

Despite the setback, Haines says the SERC will be providing alternative ways for students and staff to work up a sweat from home.

“We are still going to offer virtual group exercise classes so people can do them at home,” Haines said. “We have been offering that in the past, and we will continue to offer it in hopes students will take advantage of it.”

The COVID-19 Pandemic has been one of uncertainty and challenges. People have had to keep their minds and body right in a healthy way. Whether it be at a gym or home, a workout is a great way to escape the stress of the pandemic, something we all need right now.



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2 replies

  1. The sad part is when you can no longer workout at the gym. They have all the equipment you may need. Are your virtual work out sessions free to the students attending? On the bright side, you can use your body weight to accomplish a sense of normalcy, fitness-wise.

  2. Yes Violet, they are free for students. Most of the exercises are body-weight based in the classes so little equipment is needed.

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