MAGGIE MAE YOUNG
UMW’s Campus Recreation has served as a beneficial outlet for those seeking refuge from the social isolation and physical stillness that the pandemic brought. Although the gym offers a place for improving both physical and mental health, its hours are not extensive enough for students to be able to take full advantage of these resources.
Many college students are busy with their classes or jobs during the day, which leaves early morning or late at night as the only times to fit in a workout. This is an issue since Campus Recreation is currently open 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday-Thursday, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Friday and 2 p.m. to 8 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, according to their website.
According to Mayo Clinic, “the psychological and physical benefits of exercise can help improve mood and reduce anxiety.” This research is important to acknowledge since a survey conducted by BestColleges.com reported that over 90% of college students have experienced negative mental health symptoms due to the pandemic.
According to Kelly Shannon, director of Campus Recreation, the gym was open from 6 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. Monday-Thursday, 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. Friday and 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. on the weekends before the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The minimum wage increase alongside budget cuts is what resulted in the cut to hours. The fitness center payroll budget was reduced by $10,742,” said Shannon. “We did receive an adjustment to the budget to alleviate the impact of the minimum wage increase, but the adjustment was $3,874.”
Although the shortened hours are not a drastic change from 2018, college students’ schedules vary, and every additional hour of operation allows someone to get their workout in.
“I think longer hours are important on weekends because I know it opens later and sometimes college students want to work out in the mornings on the weekends because they have plans later on,” said Andrea Gallegos, a junior sociology and elementary education major.
In light of Campus Recreation’s schedule change, many students have turned to other nearby gym facilities. Planet Fitness, the closest gym to campus at less than a mile away, is open 5 a.m. to midnight on Monday, 24 hours Tuesday and Wednesday, midnight to 10 p.m. Friday and 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. on weekends.
According to their website, Planet Fitness costs $10 per month with an annual fee of $39. Both the closest and cheapest option, Planet Fitness has become quite popular among UMW students.
Bradlee Nicholls, a marketing major and graduate coordinator for facility operations at Campus Recreation, has a Planet Fitness membership due to Campus Recreation’s limited hours.
“If my day changes, the hours are not in the time frame I need,” he said. “Weekend hours at the school gym are the worst, as I want to get my lift in relatively early instead of waiting until 2 p.m.”
For many UMW students, Campus Recreation is the only place they have access to a fitness facility, whether that is due to their lack of transportation or funds. UMW Administration needs to acknowledge that the gym’s limited hours detriment students’ wellbeing, especially since their tuition is supposed to provide them access to the facility.