Gyms and fitness centers in Columbia have changed their approach to follow new COVID-19 protocols but are still ensuring students and residents can continue to train.
When students and faculty came back to the University of South Carolina for the fall 2020 semester, the Strom Thurmond Wellness and Fitness Center and Solomon Blatt PE Center made sure they would still be available to workout.
Mitchell Nettesheim, director of campus recreation, has had a key role in making sure Strom and Blatt operate at their full potential.
"We put a lot of energy into getting as much physical distancing between pieces of equipment and stations to work out as possible," Nettesheim said. "We have created kind of navigational paths that have reduced the amount of face-to-face interaction as people navigate the buildings."
Dan Mitchell, regional fitness developer and Columbia regional manager for Orange Theory, said Orange Theory had to make adjustments to how classes run in the studios.
"When we first came back to the studios, it was obviously difficult to kind of read those guidelines and interpret the best way to make that work for our studios," Mitchell said.
Now that members are allowed back to the studio, Mitchell said he and the Orange Theory staff members do everything necessary for their classes prior to starting.
"We obviously take people's temperatures before they come in; so, as long as no one has a fever or an elevated temperature, then obviously we do ask them to not come into the studio," Mitchell said. "[Members] get [hand sanitizer] every time they come into the studio as well, and members are required to wear their mask into the studio when they get to their assigned station and also whenever they move around in the room itself."
Third-year computer science student Riley Conant continues to go to Strom and said how organized the fitness center has been.
"Everyone's wearing a mask; you have to have it on. Even before getting in, your temperature is checked, and then they ask you to verify you haven't had any symptoms in the past day," Conant said.
With time slots in place to help rotate people in and out for workouts, Conant said he has made changes in order to get a full workout in.
"It made me have to shorten some of my stuff, more just focusing on lowering the weights a bit so that I get more of a quantity in, compared to maybe maxing out sometimes," Conant said. "I've been able to adjust it so that I can get all of my workouts done in the amount of time they give."
Although certain gym equipment is required to be used during a time slot, there are other things available all the time for group activities at Strom.
"Cardio equipment, the Olympic weight room, the selectorized equipment, they can just drop in and use the facility," Nettesheim said.
Months into the pandemic and figuring out the best way to follow guidelines, Mitchell said he is happy to see the studio operating like normal again.
"We really got a very, very fantastic basic plan in place," Mitchell said. "It's kind of down to a fine science now."
Second-year accounting student Grant Fuller said he stays home and uses the gym at the Hub at Columbia, an apartment complex for off-campus students. Fuller said he is glad the Hub at Columbia is doing its part to follow gym equipment protocol, like Strom, Blatt and Orange Theory.
"Someone comes around every hour just to kind of clean everything off," Fuller said. "There's a couple of regulations about how many people can be in there at one time, but it's never really been a big deal."
Fuller said the apartment complex is also encouraging wiping down equipment and using hand sanitizer, too.
"I use the wipes to wipe down stuff that I just used and try to not be on top of other people while they're working out," Fuller said.