One week after Pottruck Health and Fitness Center reopened, students are grateful and excited to have access to the facilities, even after experiencing some difficulties when reserving a time to work out.
Pottruck reopened some of its facilities to all undergraduate students on Feb. 24 after piloting COVID-19 protocols that proved successful as well as the undergraduate positivity rate consistently decreasing. On Feb. 27, Pottruck announced it would reopen two additional workout facilities on the third and fourth floors, in addition to expanding its hours. Students are allowed to make up to three reservations per week in one specific exercise room to use for the duration of their 60-minute workout.
Chief Wellness Officer Benoit Dubé said Pottruck expanded its hours after seeing strong student interest in using the facilities and experiencing consistent success of Penn's COVID-19 protocols. Many students have also reported feeling safe when they work out because of Penn's COVID-19 protocols.
“I never came within six feet of anyone,” Nursing junior Kaitlin Henry said, adding that neither she nor anyone she saw took off their mask at any time while she was in the facility.
Nursing first year Jadyn Ross had a similar experience to Henry.
“There were only 10 people in the room with me, and all of them were wearing masks. I felt very safe the entire time," Ross said.
Students are required to wear a mask for the duration of their workout and also must show a green PennOpen Pass prior to entering Pottruck. They must also adhere to policies outlined in the Student Campus Compact.
Each room is restricted to a specific number of students based on social distancing capacities ranging from 10 to 24, depending on the room. As a result, some students have reported they have struggled to make reservations due to high demand and low availability.
“It’s really hard to get a reservation because you have to plan it four days in advance, and then you have to get on the website right at 12:00 p.m. when the reservations open, and that can be kind of a pain,” Engineering first year Rowan Almonte said.
Almonte said he has noticed that reservations typically fill up within two hours of being released on the Campus Recreation Member Portal website.
Engineering first year Andrea Urdaneta echoed Almonte's sentiment, adding that she has been unable to get a time slot in the second floor weight room — the facility she was most excited to use when she heard Pottruck was reopening.
As a result of the high demand, Pottruck opened two more facilities — the third- and fourth-floor fitness centers — on March 1 which accommodate 10 more reservations per hour. Pottruck also expanded its hours, and is now open Monday to Friday from 7:30 a.m. to 1:00pm and 2:30 p.m. to 8:00 p.m., Saturday: 9:00 a.m. 1:00 p.m., and Sunday 12:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.
Henry and Engineering junior Keshava Katti said they do not mind the limitations of the booking process because it reflects the careful approach Penn is taking to prevent the spread of COVID-19 while also reopening a major campus facility.
“I’ve just been waiting around for Pottruck to open up — it means the world to me,” Katti said. “[Working out] is part of a routine I built during my sophomore year, and when Pottruck came back, it was like a glimpse of the old routine, being able to at least capture a vestige of what life was like pre-COVID-19.”
Engineering first year Stefanie Pfahnl — who is on the club swim team — also said she has been enjoying the taste of normality that Pottruck's reopening had provided.
“I have been having a great time going to [Pottruck]. I’m really happy that it is open,” Pfahnl said.
Penn administrators have been working for months to reopen the faculty and previously hoped to open Pottruck in December, but were unable to after Philadelphia instituted a Safer at Home restriction.
“It’s been very rewarding to see how appreciative students have been,” Dubé said. “We’re really, really pleased with the results we’ve seen.”