Recreation & Wellness Center continues to offer outdoor group fitness classes

Students have ventured off campus to access indoor workout equipment in a move that concerns some members of the Vanderbilt community.


Truman McDaniel

The David Williams II Recreation and Wellness Center is being used as a COVID-19 testing location. (Hustler Multimedia/Truman McDaniel)

Grace Lee, Staff Writer

The David Williams II Recreation and Wellness Center (the Rec) continues to offer outdoor fitness classes for ten students or fewer, with advance registration and social distancing. 

Classes offered currently include body conditioning, boot camp, pilates, yoga, outdoor cycling and Zumba. Club sports have also been practicing outdoors at the Rec. Students cannot currently access any indoor facilities or equipment at the Rec.

Director of the Recreation & Wellness Center Kenny Moore said via email that the Rec has been adding classes and is hiring more instructors, including qualified Vanderbilt students, to provide opportunities for the student body to safely exercise.

“We are still developing plans to re-open the indoor facilities of the Vandy Rec,” Moore said. 

Moore said that Rec staff continue to explore potential ways to help students exercise safely, while adhering to Vanderbilt’s COVID-19 protocols.

At the 45-minute outdoor cycling class on the evening of Oct. 15, four students were in attendance, each on a bike spaced out by about 10 feet. The instructor ensured that everyone wore masks until they were actively cycling on their bike, at which point masks could be removed. Immediately following the class, the instructor handed out sanitizing wipes for the equipment. 

In September, sophomore Kevin Hou started a petition calling for the Rec to be reopened. It has since partially reopened but still does not offer access to indoor facilities or equipment. 

The petition argues that many students turn to exercise as a mental health coping strategy, and without access to cardio and other workout equipment from the Rec there could be “hundreds of students” paying high fees to go to off campus gyms and putting the entire Vanderbilt campus at risk of COVID-19 exposure.

“By opening the Rec, we can drastically mitigate the risk of COVID-19 exposure,” Hou said in a message to The Hustler. “The university can take safety precautions that off-campus gyms cannot afford, such as moving workout equipment outside, limiting attendance to only Vanderbilt students and faculty, regular cleaning, mask mandates and limiting the number of people in an area at the same time.”

Jacob Smith, a sophomore friend of Hou, also commented on the reasoning behind the petition. 

“I would not be surprised at all if an outbreak starts from a student going to one of the surrounding gyms whose ‘rules’ are super relaxed,” Smith said.

Moore said the Rec is committed to find safer ways for students to use their resources.

“We understand the importance of physical activity to student’s [sic] mental health and wellbeing,” Moore said.