The onset of the coronavirus pandemic brought with it a host of new vocabulary–words like ‘quarantine’ and ‘social distancing’ seem to suggest the entire world is staying holed up in their rooms all day. However, even with COVID restrictions in place, students at Drake University have been finding ways to get out and stay active this year.
In addition to a variety of online offerings, Drake has several in-person fitness class options at the Bell Center and Underground Fitness. This includes a variety of socially didstanced group classes such as cardio kickboxing, yoga, barre, hip hop, pilates, muscle mix, Zumba and HIIT.
First-year Vanessa Southgate likes to stay active and has been using Drake’s exercise facilities this year, as well as taking walks around campus.
“I’ve still been using the fitness center since I got here, which was welcome week,” Southgate said. “Initially, working out with a mask on was an adjustment, but I’ve gotten used to it.”
The athletic facilities enforce several COVID-19 precautions, such as the caution tape seen on some of the workout machines in Underground Fitness to ensure proper social distancing. Masks are required, and machine use is staggered to minimize contact.
Cloud Masibhera, an employee at Underground Fitness, knows the regulations inside and out.
“You can only receive one machine at a time for a one-hour block, though only 45 minutes of that time can actually be used for that machine,” said Masibhera. “The last 15 is used for cleaning.”
Making reservations is a strict process. They must be made for everything, even post-workout stretch sessions.
First-year Matthew Willams has used Underground Fitness to take a yoga lesson.
“I tried a yoga class. It was a good opportunity to try something new,” Williams said. “Everyone wore masks and people were spread throughout the class. There was also a limit of people allowed into the class due to COVID-19.”
Williams said his response to the COVID precautions was a positive one.
“Drake is doing a nice job with the COVID-19 precautions throughout the whole university,” Williams said. “It is clear they are putting safety first.”
First-year Miclo Gonzalez said that while the restrictions aren’t ideal, they are for the best and students have learned to adapt.
“It’s obviously not as free or fun with COVID-19 precautions, but we make the most of it,” Gonzalez said. “We all must wear masks and only half of the class can be there each day so there’s a lot of adaptation. Honestly, it’s hard to learn a dance through Zoom but it is possible. The quality of teaching does not go down one bit because of COVID-19; the only downside is that the instructor cannot correct us.”
Additionally, certain machines are only available during certain hours in the fitness center. Southgate said most cardio machines start on the hour while strength stations are available 15 minutes after the hour. She understands the time slots are necessary for social distancing, but said it can get inconvenient when things are not available at the time that she needs them to be.
Students can sign up for online fitness classes through Drake at https://www.imleagues.com/spa/fitness/550ab0b3251e4b9387d21ca441000d01/home.