Students welcome the reopening of campus fitness centres


For almost two years, students at Red River College Polytechnic were unable to exercise on campus.

That all changed in February 2022, when fitness centres across all campuses welcomed back staff and students.

With the roller coaster of public health restrictions in Manitoba, the decision to keep RRC Polytech’s fitness centres closed during the height of the Omicron variant was not easy, said Breanna Sawatzky, mental health coordinator for Healthy Minds, Healthy College.

“Because of the Omicron variant, the Notre Dame facility was again closed, and we could not open EDC as planned,” said Sawatzky.

This setback was discouraging for Sawatzky and her staff, along with many students who regularly used the facilities prior to COVID-19.

The response to the reopening has been overwhelmingly positive.

“To feel that positive response from regulars who missed it makes us very happy and happy to serve folks in this way,” said Sawatzky.

Exercise has many benefits such as decreased stress levels and positive impacts on mild depression, ADHD, anxiety, and memory improvement, according to the Canadian Red Cross. For students, these potential impacts are invaluable.

A RRC Polytech gym clerk works out at the Exchange District Campus Fitness Centre./CAMERON EVANS

Students and staff at the Exchange District Campus are excited to be able to use the facilities once again.

Judimar Diotay, an Electrical Engineering Technology student, said he is enjoying the social aspect of the gym.

“I’m excited to take advantage of the facilities, be social, and be active. It’s something every student should do since it’s included in the tuition,” said Diotay.

For Diotay, a shortcoming of fitness centres at RRC Polytech is the hours they are open. If students want to exercise, they must do so between 6:30 a.m. and 6 p.m. on Monday through Friday, which Diotay said is difficult for him to accommodate. 

The fitness centres recently increased hours from closing at 2 p.m. to closing at 6 p.m. Diotay said he would like the facilities to be open longer on evenings.

The facilities used to be open on weekends before the pandemic. Weekend usage is something Sawatzky said she hopes to reinstate as part of a gradual reopening plan later this year.