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Oregon's Rec Center Adopts Tent Model to Mitigate Risk

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In response to Lane County moving into the Extreme Risk Level during the COVID-19 pandemic, the University of Oregon Student Recreation Center has created a 40-by-100-foot outdoor tent to accommodate students' cardio and weight workouts.

As reported by the Daily Emerald student newspaper, the tent has a 35-person capacity limit, and UO students are able to reserve 45-minute slots for workouts. Equipment is kept 6 feet apart, masks are required, and employees as well as students working out are responsible for cleaning the equipment. 

“There was a lot of push back with people wearing their masks last term, but now people are more compliant because they’re just thankful that we can be open at all,” UO junior and REC employee Jenna Milionis told the Daily Emerald. According to Miionis, there has been a consistent turnout of students making a reservation to use the outdoor space. 

Lynn Nester, the director of physical education and recreation, said REC officials connected with the UO design and construction team, and then had to work with the city of Eugene to permit the space. However, once Lane County moved into the Extreme Risk Level, meaning indoor recreation was no longer permitted, Nester said the REC staff knew they had to find a way to allow students to continue working out. 

“This took a lot of time and a lot of work, but we were thinking we need to do something for all of the students that generally come into the REC to exercise, or intramurals,” Nester said. “It’s really great work by PE and REC staff, and it has been popular with our students.” 

Once the tent closes for individual reservations at 6 p.m., the space is open for intramural teams to reserve. 

REC employee and UO junior Parker Campbell said that if students do not show up for their reserved time frame, they are penalized. Campbell said one no-show results in a warning, and a second offense means students can’t book appointments for a week. Students are able to cancel without penalty up to 10 minutes prior to the reservation time. 

“I think it’s a really good setup that they have going, because there’s no other gym in Oregon open right now,” Campbell said. “If you want to lift weights, or do a rower, and you don’t own that equipment, this is the only way you’re gonna be able to make that work.

“Some people don’t love the setup, which I get, but it’s this or nothing. You can continue to work out in your living room, or this. I think it’s pretty great.”

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