Imagine walking into an off-campus gym and seeing that most of the equipment is taken by people using it for everything but exercise. No one is monitoring them, so they use the machines however they want. When a machine is finally available, it looks grimy and sits against a wall that the breeze from a small fan does not reach.
I have been a gym user for about seven years. I do not mind off-campus gyms because I think they serve their purpose well. I see these behaviors in every gym I visit and ignore them for the sake of completing my workout successfully.
I had the same expectations when I went to the UCCS Rec Center for the first time but quickly realized it was different. The rec center prioritizes safety, has a pleasant ambience and is thoroughly and frequently cleaned.
A few years ago, I saw a woman almost faint on a treadmill at an off-campus gym because she could not handle the speed. She could not reach the control panel because her arms were tightly wrapped around the back of the treadmill.
She eventually stumbled off the moving treadmill uninjured. I scanned the room the entire time for employees to ask for help in case she fell. The nearest one was at the front desk because they were the only employee working at the time.
According to a 2014 study on supervision in recreation centers, “The lack of, or inadequate supervision, is one of the most common claims for negligently caused injuries.” I feel safe in the rec center knowing that this will most likely not happen. Staff members are always around to enforce the rules regarding the equipment and quickly help anyone in the event of an emergency.
These supervisors need to watch people work out for safety reasons. It can feel awkward, but I ignore them easily by looking out the window. Every machine I use has a view of the mountains and the rooms are naturally lit. Even the track room has a wall with windows facing a lovely, natural area. The best part is that no one can see me clearly through those windows because those machines sit on the second floor.
I find them better than staring at drab and dirty walls glowing in the fluorescent lighting of a public gym.
The equipment and locker rooms themselves are also no exception when it comes to dirt at public gyms. Employees can only do so much, especially when staffing shortages exist. Not everyone cleans up their machines or their locker room messes after using them, either.
According to an article by Alicia Rohan, “numerous studies have shown that gyms can be covered in cold and flu viruses, as well as E. coli, MRSA and other bacteria and virus strains that can make you sick.” I do not think that the rec center on campus completely scrubs away all of the germs and dirt, but it still appears much cleaner than an off-campus gym.
At the rec center, I have seen the employees wipe down machines even after someone has already done so, and the floors and locker rooms rarely have any messes on them.
According to the rec center’s website, employees follow a 90-minute sanitation cycle after equipment is used. I looked at the YMCA’s website, and it does not detail the staff’s cleaning practices.
The rec center does have its drawbacks in terms of fees, such as the requirement of an additional fee to join fitness classes. However, fitness classes at Accolades locations are free and college students can get membership discounts from them according to their website.
The care and consideration that goes into the rec center and its regulations makes the difference for me when it comes to my workout location preferences. I can block out all the dirt, avoid the locker rooms and act logically in emergency situations. I just prefer to know that everyone is safe and everything is clean from the start. The ambience is just a bonus.