Schools from across the U.S. share about the COVID-19 impact on campus recreation and their thoughts on the future of the industry. Below are the professionals who shared information for the COVID-19 recap that follows.
The COVID-19 impact at Seattle University led to the decision to not reopen for the fall semester, focusing on its virtual programming. Two of these include:
Live group fitness classes, fitness webinars like “Tips for Exercising at Home” led by a personal trainer, and 30-minute motivational check-ins with a trainer have transitioned in-person fitness programs to virtual.
More Group X virtual classes will be launched at the end of November when the campus goes back to online-only until the new semester.
Virtual one-on-on sessions like wellness coaching, nutrition consultation and athletic training appointments have served students’ various needs.
Group X Plus: In collaboration with Georgetown University and IMLeagues, this program provides both communities with access to an expanded virtual group exercise schedule of over 30 classes per week.
The Build Me A Workout program allows personal trainers to build a customized workout plan based on what the student has at their disposal — bag of flour, staircase, etc.
Seattle University may not have reopened its fitness center, but the community can still take part in UREC’s equipment rental program, and outdoor open recreation at the Seattle University Park and the tennis courts.
The University of Michigan moved to cashless operations and opened one of its gymnasiums to serve as a distribution location for the campus dining program. “We have some of the largest open space on campus, so we were able to partner to help in their de-densification efforts,” said Widen.
The University of Houston added automatic faucets and paper towel dispensers in areas that didn’t previously have them. “We even added toe hooks on the bottom of doors to allow participants to open a door with their foot,” said Clark.
At Purdue, students are communicated with via the FusionGo app. It allows Recreation & Wellness to send push notifications with guideline changes and to use contactless barcode scans to check in.
While the flow of entering and exiting entailed a lot of new signage, marketing and behavior change, Warren said the new COVID-19 mask rule is changing member preference. “Our cardio equipment is being used less and our strength equipment is being used more,” he said. “We are starting to remove some of our cardio options and add more strength.”
At ECU, traffic flow patterns are coupled with the school’s mascot, the Pirates. Arrows are designed to look like planks from a ship and social distancing graphics were designed with an “X marks the spot” theme like a treasure hunt.
A stop-and-go system for cardio is also implemented at ECU. “When a member arrives at the cardio deck, they are greeted by a team member who welcomes them and provides a brief overview of the new procedures,” said Trotter. “The member will be directed to any equipment that has a green placard on it, indicating it is sanitized and available for use. The green placard is then removed and after the exercise session is complete, a red placard will be placed on it indicating a team member needs to sanitize it and prepare it for use again.”
Personal training has gone online as well. At Pepperdine University, it’s been one of the most impactful offerings, made possible via the app TrueCoach. “This was also very critical in keeping staff employed who had worked in group fitness and other related areas that had been shut down,” said Bolton.
Morris echoed Bolton, saying virtual personal training really took off. “Many students who may have been intimidated by utilizing our recreation centers previously because of various barriers — be it body image, not knowing where to start, or convenience factors such as parking and crowded peak times — are now engaged as those barriers are removed in the virtual landscape,” he said.
Outdoor coordinators Sean Bricker and Sean Wilkinson launched “Sean & Sean Explore the Great Outdoors,” a live, weekly program coupling outdoor education with a weekly social media challenge. That evolved into another video series, “Sean & Sean Explore Local,” which took students to little-known experiences in the area.
Additionally offered are campus-based excursions such as urban hikes, bike rides and local half-day trip experiences. Participants meet trained outdoors staff at the trip’s starting point to embark on a socially-distanced and masked adventure.
The DIY Adventure Trip program allows students to request a custom-built package that offers outdoor equipment, video tutorials, and tips and recommendations based on the areas they want to explore.
Student employee training went online at the University of Houston. Clark said they adopted a blended learning training model by using Articulate in response to the COVID-19 impact on the school. The “Return to Rec” training module featured 11 lessons focusing on general COVID-19 information as well as changes in daily duties, operations, programmatic/activities and the emergency action plan.
Communication is critical internally. Purdue used Basecamp initially to communicate with its staff, later settling into Microsoft Teams.
To determine staffing needs at ECU, leadership went through identifying the service journey and stating what they wanted students and members to experience before they walked in the doors, during their time there and after they left. This resulted in dedicated team members in varying areas of the facility including entry points, check-in stations and the fitness floor to make sure all student needs are met and guidelines are followed.
Team culture was put at the forefront for FSU when collaborating virtually. “Effective communication when in a virtual workplace is especially important, as it is very challenging to be able to get a sense of overall team morale without face-to-face conversations and casual encounters. Numerous types of intentionally scheduled engagement opportunities are vital — team meetings, coffee hours, one-on-one meetings, portfolio discussions, etc,” said Chris Morris.
At RRCC, Fallon elaborated your best effort can look drastically different each day when working from home. “2020 has forever changed our perception of what productivity looks like,” he said. “The results aren’t as tangible. Some days we can crush it and cross all eight things off the to-do list, and other days we’re lucky if we answer a few emails and put on a decent shirt for the Zoom call. But it’s OK. Learning to give yourself and your coworkers some grace in these weird times can go a long way.”
For more COVID-19 impact news and happenings, visit Campus Rec’s COVID-19 Resource Page.