Butler’s Health and Recreation Complex is open with new safety protocols in place

The Health and Recreation Complex is now open with restrictions. Photo by Evalyn Peacey.

ALISON MICCOLIS | STAFF REPORTER | amiccolis@butler.edu

When Butler made the decision to move classes online for the first two weeks of the fall 2020 semester, the Health and Recreation Complex, or HRC, was also forced to delay their opening until in-person activities resumed.

On Monday, Sept. 7, the HRC was able to open its doors and invite people back in to use the space. However, there are guidelines in place that all users have to follow for the building to remain open. 

One significant change from previous years is the new reservation system. In the past, students were able to use the space any time the complex was open. Now, students have to sign up in advance for a specific time slot. Without a reservation, you will not be allowed to enter. 

Leah Weprich, the assistant director of recreation and wellness for aquatics and operations, explained the reasoning behind the reservation system. 

“With the way things are now, we really have to control the capacities and how many people are in each space, so we went to a reservation system so we know exactly how many people are in each space at all times,” Weprich said. 

There are five reservable areas and each area has a specific number of spots available. There are 25 spots available on the track level, 20 spots available on the main level and five spots available in the weight lifting area. The lap pool and the basketball courts are also open for reservations. However, there will be times during the week that the number of available spots will vary, as some PWB courses and the women’s swim team use the spaces as well. 

There are two ways a person can find the reservation system. The first is through the HRC reopening page. At the top of the page there is a box to reserve a spot. The second way is through the HRC Instagram account. There is a link in their bio that links to the reservation page. 

Katie Cooley, a junior strategic communication major, swam at the HRC this past week. She found the reservation system easy to use. 

“You just pick what day and time you want, fill out your name, and they will send you a confirmation email that reminds you that you need to do your daily health check and have a mask,” Cooley said. “It was really easy to use, I was pleasantly surprised.” 

Another change in procedure is the check-in process. Before, students were able to scan their ID badge and begin their work-out. Now, students have to wait outside and be approved for entry by a staff member. 

“You cannot enter the HRC on the side where the health clinic is, you have to go in on the side next to Hinkle,” Cooley said. 

Once you are in line to check-in, you will be asked to give your name, your reservation time and proof of your completed daily health check. 

Amanda Weiderman, a junior mechanical engineering and economics double major, has been a lifeguard at the HRC since she was a first-year. She helped explain the reasoning behind the new check-in process.

“I think the biggest thing that will come as a surprise to people is that you have to wait outside to be let in,” Weiderman said. “Unlike previous years, we will be turning away people if you did not sign up for your spot, just in an effort to be more compliant with social distancing and accurate contact tracing.”

If a student has not filled out their daily health screening or does not have their phone, they will be asked the screening questions and have their temperature taken at the door. This is also the procedure for members who are not affiliated with Butler and will therefore not have a daily health check clearing them to be on campus.

When the HRC first opened, there was a check-in window where students had to come near the beginning of their reserved time slot. However, during this first week, changes have been made to allow students access to the HRC at any point during their reserved time. 

“We realized we wanted people to be able to come anytime during their window, so if you have a session from 10-11:30, but you cannot get here until 10:30, you can just call the front desk and we will take you through your screening to let you in,” Weprich said. “We also changed the reservations so you can sign-up until right before. It doesn’t close a day in advance anymore, which was hard for some people.” 

Once inside, there are a couple of changes users should expect. The first is that masks are required at all times. This includes during check-in, while moving between spaces and while working out. For people looking to use the lap pool, masks are required at all times on deck. Swimmers are only allowed to remove masks once in their lane. 

In addition to the mask requirement, users are encouraged to use the wipes located around the building to clean any surfaces they come into contact with. Additionally, the HRC closes for an hour and a half every day to do a full cleaning of the whole building. 

“What we are encouraging is that everything you touch, you clean it before you use and it and then after you use it,” Weprich said. “We have done a good job minimizing touch points. There are not any doors you have to touch except to get to the pool but cleaning your area before and after is really important.” 

Over the summer, Weprich and her team worked on spacing out all of the equipment appropriately. The building is set up so that you are either on a machine or in one of the red squares taped on the ground, and there is also some equipment that is not available due to the new spacing. However, Weprich made sure that if a piece of equipment is unavailable, there is another way to get that type of exercise. 

One popular amenity that is no longer available is the track, as Weprich and her team were unable to figure out a way to safely open the track for walkers and runners. Instead, they repurposed the space to contain cardio equipment along the outer lane.  

Along with the track, the sauna and hot tub are closed at this time. Some smaller changes included removing all shared pieces of equipment, including basketballs used on the courts. Additionally, towel service and the water fountains will no longer be accessible. However, the water bottle filling stations will still be available.  

As of now, all group fitness classes and personal training are on hold. Weprich talked about how her team is currently working on figuring out a way to safely start those programs again. They are hoping to have information on possible in-person or virtual opportunities coming soon.

Weiderman encouraged students to come and use the space, but asked them to be understanding as she and her fellow student workers learn the new procedures. 

“I would ask the students to be patient,” Weiderman said. “We are all really new to this. We have only been open a week. The people you are talking to are students, and we know it can be a test of patience doing some of these procedures, but we really just ask the students to remain calm, wear their masks and take care of their equipment.” 

Cooley agrees that students who are ready to come back to the HRC should take advantage of the opportunity. 

“I was a little bit nervous about going just because of having to check-in and learn all the new COVID precautions, but it was actually fine,” Cooley said. “I felt very safe which is nice. It was as normal as it could be while still being safe, which I appreciated.”

Weprich was happy to welcome everyone back and expressed her gratitude towards all of the students following the new rules. 

“I am really happy we were able to [open] in a safe way where students are respecting the rules and still able to enjoy their workouts,” Weprich said. “We do not want to be open at the expense of anyone’s health and safety, so that is why those requirements are in place. It is important to me and I know to a lot of us on the team, that we have this space available for students to take care of their physical and mental well being.” 

For anyone interested in making a reservation or learning more about the HRC, please visit their website. Additional questions can be emailed to Leah Weprich at lweprich@butler.edu


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