Welch Fitness Center's COVID-19 restrictions yield longer wait times for gym-goers

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COVID-19 regulations at Welch Fitness Center are causing disruptions in students’ schedules and adding challenges for the staff.  

When COVID-19 first hit DePauw in 2020, campus wide restrictions were implemented, impacting students’ access to the Welch fitness center.

Since then, regulations have lessened, but some are still present. 

The hours of operation have almost completely returned to what they were before COVID-19. Other than an hour of daily cleaning, the center hours are back to 7 a.m. -10 p.m. Students and staff are also encouraged to sanitize the equipment before and after use. Until recently, masks were required in the fitness center, but updates from DePauw’s COVID-19 mitigation team stated that they no longer need to uphold that rule. 

With campus now in orange status, restrictions are lessening at Welch but student accessibility problems are not.

Sophomore and track athlete Alexis Cagan finds it difficult to train because once she arrives at Lily, the gym is already at capacity and lines start forming. 

“One of our coaches usually stands right outside of the doors with us and is like,“Oh what the hell!” said Cagan. “Then when we get in there’s not that many sets available for us to go lift at. Sometimes in the morning we don’t have as many treadmills because they’ve had to put signs on every other one.” 

Not only are the restrictions at Welch interfering with athletes’ desired schedules, but the restrictions affect non-athletes as well. 

Junior and Welch fitness center employee Owen Meyer said that despite lines to get into the gym, the decrease in overall attendance since COVID-19 restrictions went into place is “quite noticeable.” 

When each sport comes into season needing to train in addition to non-athlete students who want to workout at the same time, Welch will reach its capacity faster and will force people to wait in line, making it harder for staff to enforce regulations. 

“Frequently people will try to argue their way in without a mask because 'it gets too sweaty when you work out.’ Originally many people would only wear a mask to get past the desk jockey, so confronting those people is frustrating and sometimes makes me feel like I need to be an a**hole in order to do my job,” said Meyer. 

 The pandemic has affected numerous people, which is why the health and safety of students and staff is the priority on campus.

Asaundra Pickett, director of Welch Fitness Center, is doing that by maintaining the regulations put in place by the University. 

“I know people complain about the capacity, but it’s like why have 125 people in there when there’s only 80 pieces of equipment,” Pickett said. 

The gym often reaches capacity between 4-6pm on weekdays and Pickett encourages her workers to offer alternative times to go to Welch when there is space available. 

The capacity is causing people to grow frustrated, but staff is doing what they can under the circumstances to accommodate everyone. 

“I think one of the most important things that can be done is to make sure people know that the gym is just the gym, despite the restrictions. Just because you have to wear a mask when you lift weights doesn't mean you can't lift weights,” Meyer said. 

Gym-goers may find increased regulations leading to longer wait times, but the only solution that Pickett sees is limiting the spread of COVID-19 on DePauw’s campus. 

“I think we have to adapt and know there are guidelines, but they aren’t to be malicious or to attack anyone. It's just trying to think of the health and safety of everyone using that space. I don’t know what changes can be made besides getting rid of COVID and getting closer to normal, but we’re getting there,” Pickett said.