Campus fitness centres remain closed due to COVID-19

By: Shauna Turnley

The fitness facilities remain closed at Red River College Polytechnic Exchange District Campus, leaving some students confused about why they were charged the recreation fee in their tuition.

Hannah Kabaluk is a RRC Polytech Business Administration student who was charged the fee. 

“If you aren’t using it, you shouldn’t have to pay for it. You should have the choice to opt-out of it,” Kabaluk said. 

Halldorson, the Red River College Students’ Association president, said she used the college’s gym before the closure, but she has since joined a different gym. Halldorson said she can afford the membership because she works two jobs but says others may not. 

“But students that may not work and are just students, a gym is very important for them right and their mental health,” Halldorson said.

Stephanie Jeffrey is the executive director of the Manitoba Fitness Council. She said their research shows how gym closures have affected people during the pandemic.

“All the things that we found that were negative have all increased. And the ones you probably know—weight gain, depression levels and anxiety levels,” Jeffrey said.

Jeffrey said the Manitoba Fitness Council and The Fitness Industry Coalition of Canada translate public health orders for gyms to understand what procedures need to be implemented. They offer solutions to problems gyms may be experiencing. 

An RRC Polytech student looks through the window of the closed fitness facilities on Wednesday, Dec. 8. The Exchange District Campus fitness facilities remain closed./SHAUNA TURNLEY

“It is not a huge issue, you know, to be open because the restrictions actually in gyms are not heavy,” Jeffery said.

Jeffery said gym memberships are increasing as winter approaches. She said people working or studying from home need a place to go.

“Buying equipment isn’t cost-effective for most people, and if you are not used to going to the gym, you may not really know what to do at home by yourself,” Jeffery said.

Breanna Sawatzky, the acting manager of Student Life at RRC Polytechnic, oversees mental health strategy for the college and the fitness recreation and athletics portfolio.

“Yeah, so [we are] really just kind of taking a gradual approach to opening and restoring these services and needing to kind of take one step at a time,” said Sawatzky.

The fee was re-implemented for the fall term to support a range of health and wellness supports, including a staged approach to the downtown campus fitness facilities, according to Conor Lloyd, the college and public relations director at RRC Polytech.

The recreation fee will be renamed to the recreation and wellness fee to better reflect what the fees cover, said Lloyd.

He said a reopening date will be announced in the new year, as plans need finalizing.