Steve Tisch Sports and Fitness Center opens for semester with restrictions, reservations

The inside of the Steve Tisch Sports and Fitness Center is pictured on Sept. 23. Ann Marie Burke / The Tufts Daily

Now that the fall semester is in full flux, students have numerous facilities open for use. Along with academic locations on campus, the Steve Tisch Sports and Fitness Center has been available to those who are engaging in Tufts testing protocols.

The gym opened mid-September and has not run into any major issues that have prevented it from staying open.

As outlined on the athletic department’s website, students and faculty are allowed to access the gym at different times during the week. For faculty members, the gym is available for use from 6 a.m. to 8 a.m., Monday to Friday without reservations as long as they present a Tufts ID. However, students must make reservations in advance to use specific equipment. The reservation time slots are from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. on weekdays and Sunday, and 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Saturdays. There is a limit of three reservations per week for students and only one reservation is allowed per day.

“The reservation system has been working really well,” Director of Sports Performance Dan Kopsco wrote in an email to the Daily. “There are always challenges to rolling out something new, but I’ve been very impressed by the understanding and cooperation of our students on campus, as well as how well our fitness center staff has adapted.”

In order to make a reservation at the gym students must first select a space to reserve during their visit and then select a corresponding time slot available. The website will redirect users to their Tufts login to confirm their reservation. Students can view their reservations under the “My reservations” tab and also cancel their reservations here. There are no consequences for students who cancel their reservations in advance; however, if a student misses a few sessions, they will be locked out of the software.

Some of the equipment is in higher demand or has fewer spaces available to reserve, thus the need to reserve in advance might fluctuate.

“Most reservations seem to be made a day or two in advance, but some are made only a handful of hours beforehand,” Kopsco said.

Depending on the day and the weather, the amount of gym users varies, but Kopsco estimates there to be about 60–100 people making reservations per day. To ensure that the high traffic space does not pose discomfort to students who want to use the sports center, cleaning protocols are put into place to sanitize the spaces. The 20-minute gap between reservations is utilized to disinfect and clean the equipment in between use. 

“The gym is thoroughly cleaned at the end of every hour (we run reservations for forty minutes allowing another 20 minutes for cleaning each hour),” Kopsco said. “In addition the custodial staff does a special deep cleaning at 1:30 every day and again before the facility opens in the morning. There are also both spray bottles at all the stations and cleaning wipes available for users to use for added safety and comfort.”

Those who use the gym must wear a mask upon entering the gym and entering their reserved spaces. Once those have reached their designated equipment, users are allowed to remove their masks for their exercise as long as they are remaining between the barriers of the various workout spaces. To ensure that students are following the protocol, the gym has doubled the amount of on-floor personnel that monitor the area.

“I do feel comfortable using the gym, and there is a reason why I say that. It’s because at least when I went, there were very few people actually there,” Brandon Sun, a sophomore, said. “I also had the opportunity to sanitize the equipment before using it and then the fact that there were so few people there I felt safe. Of course, if there were more people there I might feel a little bit more uncomfortable.”

While the reservation system does not allow as much freedom while working out as do normal gym conditions, it allows the gym to be open this semester and safe for those to use.

“It is somewhat annoying that I can’t use more than one kind of equipment at a time. I am the type of person to use multiple pieces of equipment in a single workout,” Sun said. “I like to run on the treadmill and also do some weightlifting, so I suppose that is an inconvenience when working out. But I understand that logistically it is not possible for us to use more than one area at once.”

Despite all of the new protocols implemented when using the gym, students are still able to exercise regularly at the gym and take some solace in knowing that the reservation process will guarantee them a space to workout. While the gym remains open for the semester, there are other outdoor locations, such as the Ellis Oval, that can be accessed for working out purposes, so those who feel uncomfortable using the sports center can still engage in other fitness activities.

“I think the University and the Athletics Department have done a tremendous job making sure options are open to our students to remain healthy both physically, and mentally,” Kopsco said. “I also recognize a lot of students are still very cautious about being indoors, and as such I see far more students this year choosing to engage in outdoor activity around campus. So while the location of students’ activity might vary a bit, I think the Tufts student body is still prioritizing fitness and health.”