Jumping outside the box

When unconventional problems prevent students from accessing the gym, unconventional ideas offer adaptive solutions to keep students active.

Cathryn Salis, Reporter

Nonathletes have been barred from the Walker Fieldhouse and various other athletic facilities on campus as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic since last spring. With sports teams needing increased access to the gym and COVID-19 guidelines to consider, getting nonathlete students, staff and faculty into the facilities seemed a near impossibility.


However, Campus Recreation has worked diligently to create the new Bush Aerobic Center, located in Bush Student Center. The Bush Aerobic Center has two ellipticals, two treadmills and two bikes that students can reserve to use for 50 minute time slots.


The aerobic center operates under the same precautions that Hamline has been used to all year with masks, social distancing more than six feet and disinfecting surfaces. “When John Guetter came back he put a tremendous amount of work into creating a safe space that could be monitored and meet all the requirements,” said Melinda Heikkinen, Director of Safety and Security on the Hamline campus. 


John Guetter, Campus Recreation Program Director, spearheaded the project to get students access to some sort of gym equipment at the very beginning of the school year. “I foresee the weight room staying closed to student-athletes for the entire semester, I think likely the entire school year,” Guetter said. “That was one of the reasons why we really needed to do something.”


There were quite a few obstacles that made the opening of the Bush Aerobic Center difficult. Not only was there limited space on campus that wasn’t already being utilized, but the center needs to be able to adapt if the situation on campus changes.  

Courtesy of Hamline Athletics

While the weightroom itself is still off limits to the majority of students, The Bush Student Center, found right next door, offers scheduled workout times for any student hoping to get their heart rate up. The time slots are one hour and students are expected to socially distance, wear masks and clean their equiptment.


“If cases were to take off we don’t want to add anything to that by potentially opening up more things on campus,” Guetter said. For this reason, the center requires reservations in order to maintain the amount of people accessing the center at a time or over a certain period of time. All students received an email on Nov. 2 with instructions on how to sign up for a reservation.


Despite these challenges, Guetter is optimistic about the life-span of the center and even has another fitness center in the works. The racquetball courts in the basement level of Walker will be converted into individual weight rooms with a variety of equipment that the aerobic center does not currently offer. These are planning to be opened on Nov 12.


“It’s a good opportunity for students to get some exercise, especially coming into the winter months when they can’t be outside,” said Chloe Kucera, a first-year employee at the Recreation Desk in Bush Center. 


The opening of the center is good news for the student employees of the Recreation Desk as well. Currently, there are 23 students employed at the Rec Desk and the opening of the center has added to their responsibilities during their shifts. 


Rec Desk employees are in charge of maintaining the strict social distancing guidelines as well as ensuring the users of the center properly clean the machines after use and only stay for their allotted time. “All the hours that it’s open there’s a student staff there to monitor the space and make sure that it’s being cleaned,” Guetter said.  


As long as this facility has been in the works, Guetter admits that the week of Nov. 2 was less than ideal for a start date. “Obviously this week is kind of an awkward week to open up because the weather’s so nice,” Guetter said. “But as we turn to winter and as we come back from semester break…we want to encourage people to get over and utilize these machines.”