Hulsey Wellness Center to reopen with COVID-19 regulations


Hulsey Wellness Center will reopen Aug. 3 to Southern students, along with employees and their families, amid new health regulations. Hulsey’s new restrictions follow guidelines set by the Hamilton County Health Department and Southern’s administration. 

Anyone entering the building will be required to wear a mask and take the daily health assessment, which includes a temperature check and questionnaire. According to Hulsey Facility Manager Darin Bissell, people must also wear masks while walking through the hallways and at the free weight station. If a person is unable to remain at least ten feet apart from other patrons, then masks will also be required while exercising on the fitness floor.

The University has not yet approved Hulsey’s reopening to community members.

 According to School of Physical Education, Health and Wellness dean, Robert Benge, Administration has voted that there will be no Gym Kids or community children swimming lessons this fall semester. 

In accordance with the Tennessee Pledge, all contact sports, including basketball, will not be allowed. However, non-contact sports, such as volleyball, will still be acceptable.

Child care, ice baths and massages will also not be available upon Hulsey’s reopening, according to Bissell. Other facilities such as the pools, fitness floor and Iles Gym will reopen with decreased capacity. Every other exercise machine on the fitness floor will be marked off to maintain social distancing.

According to Benge, fitness classes are adjusting to social distancing guidelines through schemes like moving to bigger spaces or decreasing class sizes. No fitness classes have been canceled due to the new restrictions.

Despite more limited access to gym equipment, Benge said fitness classes will still require the same amount of workout hours.

“The physical activity requirement for PEAC and ADAC classes will remain in place,” Benge said. “While every other piece of equipment in Hulsey will be off limits due to social distancing, remember, community members will not be allowed in the facility. So, that will free up equipment. 

“Also, exercise outside,” he continued. “Anything done outside lowers the risk of contracting the virus (i.e., walking on track, tennis, pickleball, hiking, road biking, mountain biking, frisbee golf). People may have to get creative.”

In order to keep the facility sanitized, Bissell said that the fitness floor staff will clean high touch points at least every two hours. Gym staff will also use an electrostatic sprayer to clean equipment every night. Equipment like racquets, mats and jump ropes will still be available to rent and will be cleaned upon return. Southern has also installed a needlepoint bipolar ionization system to purify the air.

In addition to these routines, people will be requested to wipe down machines before and after use. People will also be required to wear masks while they are not actively working out or swimming in the pool.

Junior public relations major Bailey DuBose said she does not plan on wearing a mask while exercising, but would wear one while she is not working out.

“I believe that as long as everyone is socially distanced, then a mask doesn’t need to be required,” DuBose said. “Personally, I would not wear a mask if I am actively working out but would put one on while I am moving to a different machine and entering or exiting the gym.” 

Senior biology major Madison Tsuchiya said she would prefer to wear a mask at all times in the gym.

“Wearing masks is going to be important even if you are social distancing,” Tsuchiya said. “While social distancing may help, the gym is an enclosed space, and people are going to be moving around and past each other in order to get to the weights, mats or different machines. If masks aren’t mandated in the gym, I would seriously reconsider going there at all at least for the first couple weeks. If I did go to the gym, I would definitely wear a mask.” 

As the Hulsey Wellness Center prepares to reopen, every other exercise machine has been marked off to enforce social distancing. Photo by Paola Mora Zepeda.

Share this story!

Leave a Reply