Working it out

Student rec center makes adjustments to reopen under Governor Whitmer’s Executive Order

After six months of being closed the Rec Center and all gyms across Michigan are now officially open.

Governor Gretchen Whitmer signed Executive Order 2020-176 on Thursday, Sept. 3, which allowed the reopening of gyms and pools in regions where they had remained closed. The order also allowed organized sports practices and competitions to resume. 

Ferris’ Rec center is limited to 25% capacity and not all machines are open. Photo by: Hunter Pariseau | Torch Photographer

With the reopening Whitmer set into place guidelines that gyms must follow to remain open which include:   

Gym-goers will be required to wear a mask at all times, including when working out. An exception to that rule is swimming.

 –Gym owners should do their best to offer outdoor workout opportunities.

 –Capacity will be limited to 25 percent.

 –The size of fitness classes must be reduced to enable 6 feet of separation between attendees.

 –Equipment must be regularly disinfected and hand sanitizer or soap and water must be made available to clients.

 –The gym must increase the circulation of outdoor air as much as possible by opening windows and doors or using fans.

 –Steam rooms, saunas, Jacuzzis and cold-plunge pools will be closed.

Nearly two weeks after the announcement, the Rec Center opened its doors for students to come in, this time via appointment. 

Because the Rec Center can only be filled up to 25% of its capacity, Ferris has implemented an appointment system where students can go online and reserve a spot in one of the three areas of the Rec Center that are open. 

Students can access the weight room, which has power racks, bench presses, smith machines, cable machines and dumbbells. In the upstairs cardio area students can use the cardio machines, cable machines, plate loaded strength machines, and dumbbells. The gymnasium currently has a different layout from before and has workout equipment that are spread out six feet apart from each other. In this area students can use dumbbells with benches, preacher curls, stationary bikes, rowing machines, stretching mats, ab workout equipment, kettle bells and ping pong tables.

As of now the pool, climbing wall, all locker rooms, fitness studios, and open recreation on the gym courts are closed until further notice.

Each workout session has a duration of 45 minutes and students are required to stay in the location they signed up for, for the full time. 

Ferris construction management junior Bailey McCarthy works at the Rec Center and has seen the changes first hand and how students are reacting.   

“I think they’re taking the right steps and have a lot of precautions. After every 45-minute session is done, we clean every piece of equipment,” said McCarthy. “They’re honestly taking steps that other gyms in the area, like Planet Fitness, aren’t doing. I think it’s the safest gym to be at in the Big Rapids area.”

So far, students have had mixed opinions on having to set up an appointment. 

Students are required to wear masks during their workouts at the Rec center. Photo by: Benjamin Totten | Torch Photographer

Ferris mathematics education sophomore Gavin Booher, who is someone who frequents the gym, was disappointed when gyms were shut down. During the shutdown he used the small amount of workout equipment he had available at home, so he had to be creative with his workouts. Booher didn’t mind having to make an appointment.

“The process is very easy and it adds more structure to my day knowing specifically when I have to work out,” said Booher. “The changes that have been made are going to take some time to get used to, but it’s worth it as long as we can still use the facility.”

Ferris business administration sophomore Brendan Deneen disliked having to make an appointment.   

“It’s still kind of weird with everything being split up into three sections,” said Deneen. “I used to just come whenever and didn’t really have to plan when I wanted to leave, I like to stay at the Rec for a while so I had to book multiple appointments so that I could stay here.”

McCarthy was able to see both sides of these opinions. 

“In all honesty I think the appointments are going to be a pain for some students. I think they won’t be as motivated and the numbers are going to be lower because people might not know how to use the system or they just don’t really want to schedule an appointment so they might just go to another place that doesn’t require that. But I do think it’s a good idea because you can plan your day out and have a little schedule for it,” said McCarthy.

McCarthy also noted that so far, every student he has encountered has been wearing a mask during their workouts. 

“Everyone has been abiding by the mask rule, but so far not everyone has been cleaning up after themselves, so it’s just a constant reminder to everyone to remember to wash down their equipment for the courtesy of others,” said McCarthy. 

The Rec Center has new hours and will be open Monday through Thursday from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. Fridays from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. and will be closed on Saturdays and Sundays. Students can make appointments at