Five Rec Centers Top Takeaways from the Virtual Roundtable

COVID-19 virtual roundtable

The hot topic of today is reopening. And while some rec centers are barreling ahead, others are hitting the breaks. But all are looking to serve their students.

As such, on Friday, May 29, five campus rec professionals and Campus Rec Magazine sat down for a virtual discussion during the COVID-19 Virtual Roundtable: Moving Forward.

While four of the panelists had open rec centers, Louisiana State University does not yet have a date to reopen. Executive director of University Recreation Laurie Braden said the department is still in its planning phase. They are looking to reduce risk as much as possible.

One tip she did give was for other directors to look at their live safety numbers on building plans, and then use a formula to figure out the number of patrons allowed per square foot.

Texas A&M had an aggressive reopening plan and opened back up on May 18. Rick Hall, the director of Recreation Sports, said so far jogging has proved to be a popular activity in the rec center, as well as swimming and climbing. They are currently using IMLeagues for reservations for the weight room, allowing patrons to reserve one hour slots.

Hall said they also invested in 400 masks and sneeze guards for staff, as well as electrostatic guns.

On June 1, the University of Montana hit Phase 2 of its reopening plan. While outdoor equipment rentals opened May 8, the rest of the rec offerings started May 18. Steve Thompson, the director of Campus Recreation, said in Phase 2 they are looking to operate group fitness again indoors, complete with x’s on the ground to mark where students stand.

Thompson noted the school wants classes done by Thanksgiving, so when students leave for the break they don’t have to come back. As such, the fall semester timeline has been moved up by two weeks, meaning Campus Recreation has had to redo its permitting for the Freshmen Wilderness Experience trips it conducts.

Dixie State University also opened back up. Roger Watson, the HPC marketing and building operations manager, said they are doing what’s necessary to keep patrons safe. As such, students can use the basketball courts, but students can’t share basketballs. The climbing wall is open, but is using auto belays and has specific spots where students can stand.

On May 11, Colorado Mesa University reopened to serve its 10,000 students. Lynn Wilson, the director of the Hamilton Rec Center, said she had been part of a broad task force on campus in determining reopening guidelines. They are operating under a 10-foot spacing requirement, masks are required when patrons are working out and plexiglass was installed.

She did say in determining capacity, you need to think about what is available for your patrons to do when determining spacing. Another tip was to use blue tape to outline where equipment, like weight benches, need to be at all times. Wilson said students haven’t been moving equipment around because of this.

Wilson mentioned she has been surprised by the lower numbers of attendance. They use a wrestling clock that goes up and down to keep track of patrons coming in and out. She said once masks are no longer required while working out, she thinks numbers will go back up.

After recapping what their campuses are up to, the five panelists also discussed the topics that included:

  • Continuing virtual fitness now and into the summer.
  • Software used for reservations.
  • Masks for staff and patrons.
  • Equipment rental cleaning, climbing wall sanitization, etc.
  • Budget cuts.
  • Temperature checks.

Check out the recording here to watch the complete discussion.

Heather Hartmann
Heather Hartmann is the editor for Campus Rec Magazine. She can be reached at

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