Peek into any of Cornell’s fitness facilities and one will find scores of unused squat racks and empty ellipticals — a result of social distancing requirements that have closed all gyms in New York.
Despite students not being able to use the facilities, and most not even on campus anymore, there are currently no plans to reimburse the cost of Cornell fitness memberships.
“At this time we are not offering refunds. There are a lot of factors to consider and if anything changes we will post the information on our website,” wrote Laurie Nicosen, the Cornell Fitness Center office manager in an email obtained by The Sun.
The CFC did not respond to The Sun’s request for comment by the time of publication.
All Cornell Fitness Centers, which include Helen Newman Hall, Teagle Hall, Noyes Fitness Center and Appel Fitness Center, have been closed since March 17, and will not reopen until further notice.
While the University has offered prorated refunds on unused housing and meal plans for those forced to leave campus, it has delayed issuing a statement about fitness membership reimbursements.
CFC membership includes access to all fitness facilities and group fitness classes. An annual membership is priced at $159, while a semester-long membership costs $100. Access to just group fitness classes costs $110 annually and $70 per semester.
Even though campus’ gyms have been shuttered, Cornell’s group fitness classes have moved online and now offer several virtual courses for free each weekday, hosting sessions that range from yoga to core workouts.
However, students who have already paid for facility access say that’s not enough.
The governors of New York, Connecticut and New Jersey announced that health clubs and gyms in the tri-state area would be closed indefinitely due to the rapid spread of COVID-19.
As a result of the new directive, national fitness chains have responded with changes to their pricing policies for affected locations. Planet Fitness, which has a site in Ithaca, has closed all locations and will not be billing members until they reopen. Other popular tri-state area gym chains Equinox, Blink Fitness and LA Fitness are doing the same for their members.
Though gym access is free for all Cornell community members on Friday and Saturday evenings, Cornell is the only Ivy League university to charge for gym memberships.
Harvard, Yale, Princeton and Brown offer free memberships to current undergraduate and graduate students during the academic year. Columbia, Penn, and Dartmouth offer all students free access to some fitness centers, with the option to pay to upgrade for full access to all facilities.
There have been previous calls for the CFC to be free to access for students, citing that low-income students may be excluded from healthier lifestyles and that exercise is an important factor in the improvement and maintenance of mental health.
The CFC has posted a tentative summer schedule for this year in case facilities reopen.