Time to grind: Why UW gym slots should be longer

Graphic by Gina Hsu

With the fall term in full swing, the University of Waterloo’s two fitness centres at the Physical Activities Complex (PAC) and Columbia Icefield (CIF) have become popular places for students to get some physical activity into their days. There’s just one problem: the slot time. 

45 minutes is not nearly long enough to put in a good workout, especially when warm-up times are considered, which according to Harvard Health, should last between five and 10 minutes to avoid injury. One result is that some students have resorted to buying memberships to other gyms within the Waterloo area, as they currently do not require reservations. Instead they allow for free-flowing access and simply monitor overall capacity restrictions. However, it is unfortunate that students have felt the need to go elsewhere, as with limited opportunities to be a part of the campus community, the gym offers a source of connection that is desperately needed. But there is a solution.

I believe that gym slot times should be a minimum of one hour in order to encourage students to use these university facilities, which have been updated with new equipment and are included in our tuition fees. One hour gym slots would allow for an adequate warm-up time while helping to ensure that students are able to use all of the desired equipment for their particular workout. As someone who frequents the gym often, I know how busy the squat racks can get. Additionally, in terms of the available equipment, both the PAC and CIF fitness centres have been filled with rows of new dumbbells, treadmills and other weight lifting equipment all embellished with the Waterloo Warrior logo. In this way, it is not just the location of the gyms at the university which help foster a sense of community, but also the fact that every time you go for a PB (personal best) you are reminded that you are a Warrior. All this black and gold has already been paid for through student service fees, and as a result, students should be able to take full advantage of these facilities.

Now, some may point out that the shortened gym times are a necessary COVID-19 precaution, as they allow time for cleaning before the next time slot begins. Yet I would disagree, and so would science. COVID-19 is a respiratory virus, and according to the CDC, is not primarily transmitted by touching surfaces like a doorknob or dumbbell. Additionally, the term “hygiene theatre” has been used to describe the sanitation measures many public facilities have been using to make them appear safe. Such measures include but are not limited to: wiping down counters, spraying seats, and so on. Presently, students are also encouraged to wipe down their own equipment after use, which many frequently do, making the 15-minute transition period particularly fruitless. Further, if you really wanted to be nit-picky about COVID-19 precautions at the university gyms, students shouldn’t be allowed to take off their masks when using a piece of equipment away from others, though this is currently allowed. However, all gym-goers are required to be vaccinated anyway, so even this practice isn’t as much of a concern. 

In light of this, why not allow gym slot times to be one hour? Students would be happy to get in a few extra squats and I’m sure trainers would gladly surrender their sanitation duties, as well as their need to remind students to leave.