Julia Nagel/Sun Staff Photographer

FItness centers open up with restricted workout times and distancing practices.

March 7, 2021

Newly Opened Fitness Centers Maintain Weighty COVID Mandates

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After a three-month hiatus, the dusty treadmills and squat racks of Cornell Fitness Centers are now sanitized and polished, ready to welcome students to on-campus exercise facilities with reduced capacities and strict COVID rules.

With Cornell’s five on-campus fitness centers only open four hours a day for 50 minute reservations, Cornell students are struggling to accommodate the highly regimented nature of a COVID-conscious workout routine. 

“Normally when you go in you want to stretch, warm up, and do cardio …  so now it’s like you go in and then you’ve just got to get working,” said Bryan Fuchs ’23. He noted that limited equipment can pose a challenge, if multiple students wish to use the same ones.

Fuchs also said the process of reserving CFC times — which go live exactly two days before sessions begin — was competitive.  

“It’s difficult to get a good time slot sometimes,” Fuchs said. “Especially if you’re unsure of your schedule, you don’t know what’s happening two days from now.” 

Although less expensive than previous semesters, a CFC student membership for the spring semester costs $91, a tall price for some, especially when students can only make three reservations per week.

“It’s not worth it because it’s still $91, and it’s kind of expensive, and you can only be in there for like 50 minutes, three times a week,” Fuchs said.

The pricing, limited availability and brevity of CFC exercise slots has compelled students to seek alternative outlets for exercise. 

Diana Nerangis ’23 chose not to renew her fitness plan in the fall because of the price. Instead, she brought her exercise equipment to school for use in her dorm room. 

“When the fitness centers opened again, I thought about it, but I assume you have to still wear a mask when you’re in the fitness center, and I don’t really want to work out with a mask on,” she said.

Fuchs and Connor Chen ’24 also chose to workout in their on-campus housing last semester with elastic bands and other equipment, but found that they were unable to get the workouts they desired from the comfort of their homes.

Unlike Fuchs, Chen has recently found relative ease in getting CFC appointments, describing the nature of reservations as random and unpredictable.

“In the beginning, it was pretty hard to get spots, like it would fill up in the minute, but recently it has been fine as more have been opening up,” Chen said. 

Some students have opted to get their endorphins elsewhere, making use of the few gyms scattered around Ithaca. 

Ivan Preciado ’24 goes to Planet Fitness on North Triphammer Road, saying that the facility is clean and calm inside. Other students have memberships at The Gym Ithaca and Island Fitness.

“When you’re there you don’t think about the whole COVID situation,” Preciado said. “It’s a lot of Cornell students and I feel comfortable — people are taking it as seriously as I do and COVID doesn’t really ever turn into an issue.” 

Preciado expressed concerns that fitness centers on campus could close again if Cornell’s COVID status ticks up to yellow again. 

“I’ll wait to see how other people react to the fitness centers opening up. I don’t want to cancel my gym membership then have Cornell go into phase yellow,” Preciado said. “It seems kinda crazy to think a lot of the Cornell students going to other gyms would switch out their memberships for something less reliable.”

Andreas Psahos ’24 contributed reporting.