Rec center reopens with new protocols

Outside of the Hansel E. Tookes, Sr. Student Recreation Center. Photo by Shamonee Baker

Despite many in-person activities being canceled and facilities having closed in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, FAMU’s Hansel E. Tookes, Sr. Student Recreation Center has reopened.

The rec center returned to life almost a month ago, on Feb. 15, after being closed since March 20, 2020.

Vandi Allen, the building supervisor, says the gym has implemented multiple new protocols to ensure students remain safe while exercising. This includes restrictions on what clothing students can wear to the gym.

“We now have a new uniform to where people are not allowed to wear tank tops or muscle shirts to help reduce the amount of skin and sweat contact when they are using the equipment,” Allen said.

In addition to new rules regarding attire, other COVID protocols now in effect at the rec center are set 90-minute training-sessions that students have to reserve and register for online through the “FAMU Come & Play” app. There is a 30-minute disinfecting after each session, ropes that separate the enter and exit doors, a mandatory mask rule and also, at least two machines are blocked off in-between each machine in use to ensure people are 10-feet apart.

Allen says the gym has seen a decrease in attendance due to the new capacity limit.

“I think it’s better to reduce the amount of people coming in and it also helps keep the numbers low because we don’t allow more than 60 people in the building at a time,” Allen said. “Before, the numbers could be anywhere between 60 to 100 people.”

Some people whose normal exercise routines were modified to at-home workouts, since last March are glad to be back at the rec center with its facilities.

Tamia Howie and Carlynn Andrews, freshmen business administration students, said their first time at the rec center was less than a month ago when it first opened. Since then, they have come together every day to exercise.

“The protocols that the gym has in place are very helpful and they’re doing their best to keep us safe,” Andrews said. “However, it is up to the students to follow it.”

Howie believes some of the protocols that the gym has implemented should stay in place after the pandemic.

“Sanitizing and wiping down equipment should continue to be a regular routine because you never know who washes their hands often and it’s just a way to limit germs,” Howie said.

The current hours of operation are 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday. For more information and instructions on how to register for a training session, follow the rec center’sInstagram @famucampusrec