Lehigh’s COVID-19 Response Team approved the reopening of Taylor Gym beginning March 15. The gym is operating under a new set of guidelines to ensure social distancing is practiced at all times. (Courtesy of Taylor Kurz)

Taylor Gym reopens with new protocols in place to ensure safety

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Taylor Gym opened for the first time this semester on Monday, March 15, after receiving approval from Lehigh’s COVID-19 Response Team. 

Genna Albano, assistant manager for Campus Athletics, Fitness and Instructional Programming, said the gym is operating under a new set of guidelines to ensure social distancing is practiced at all times. 

Students with campus access are able to reserve one 45 minute appointment per day that can be scheduled one day in advance. In order to attend the appointment, students must complete the HawkWatch COVID-19 assessment at least one hour before their time slot. 

The COVID-19 Response Team has set new stipulations this semester, including requiring patrons to be double masked at all times. Staff members will provide extra masks to those who need one or who want a dry mask to leave the gym with. 

Additionally, there is no food or drink allowed in the gym at any time during a person’s workout. 

In an effort to eliminate person-to-person contact, staff at Taylor Gym have also built workout pods from PVC pipes and plastic to provide barriers between people while they work out. 

“You are kind of in your own workout bubble,” said Taylor Gym graduate assistant Teresa Carotenuto.

To further enforce distance between people as they work out, the gym is only allowing 10 people on the cardio floor and 10 people on the weight floor at any given time. Patrons are also not permitted to switch between cardio and weight lifting, in order to avoid crossing over and to maintain capacity limits, Albano said. 

As an extra measure of precaution, freestanding thermometers take the temperature of everyone who comes into the gym.

As the weather gets warmer, Carotenuto encourages students to work out outside. Additionally, free online fitness classes provided by Taylor Gym offer students a chance to exercise from their homes. 

Sam Best, ‘24, however, is eager to get out of her dorm room and start working out in the gym again. 

“I’ve never felt unsafe being there in comparison to other buildings,” Best said. 

Best said Taylor Gym was one of most socially distanced buildings when it was able to be opened for part of the fall 2020 semester.

Despite her excitement to return to in-person workouts, Best said the time-slots offered for workout appointments tend to fall during common class times. This makes it difficult for students to coordinate their schedule to fit in a workout and classes for the day, Best said. 

Carotenuto recommended students get their cardio exercise done outdoors and then come to the gym to lift weights to help them fit their desired workout into a short time-slot. 

The Taylor Gym staff hopes this opening will be the last they have to prepare for this semester. Carotenuto is optimistic that with the safety precautions in place, the gym will remain open for the duration of the academic year.

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