200519-A-SO154-005.JPGSpc. Francesea Meza of Headquarters, Headquarters Company, 120th Adjutant General Battalion, runs on a treadmill at Fort Jackson’s Coleman Gym May 19. Installation fitness centers and gyms reopened Monday with restrictions to help keep patrons safe. While most gym equipment is available, saunas, basketball and racquetball courts and showers remain restricted. (Photo by Alexandra Shea)

By Alexandra Shea                                                                                                                                                                              Fort Jackson Leader

“I am so, so happy the gym is open again,” said Spc. Francesea Meza of Headquarters, Headquarters Battalion, 120th Adjutant General Battalion. “I feel safe here (at Coleman).”

Meza wasn’t the only that was happy with three of Fort Jackson’s fitness facilities reopening May 18 as part of efforts for the post to return to a steady state.

While not all gyms across the installation have reopened, those using the gym will see changes such as reduced hours, restricted use of showers, basketball courts and saunas, and no communal water coolers.

Coleman and Vanguard gyms, along with Perez Fitness Center, have reopened Monday.

“Our racquetball and basketball courts are closed for now,” said Katie McDaniel a recreations assistant at Coleman Gym. “It is an inconvenience that we do apologize for but we are just trying to look out for everyone’s health.”

Gym patrons can also expect to see additional staff around the gyms as they monitor areas to ensure proper social distancing and to clean equipment after use.

“I make sure people are staying apart and wiping down equipment, just keeping it safe,” said Jeremy Hall.

Hall is a college student and the son of an active-duty service member stationed at Fort Jackson. Hall, a swimmer by nature, works at the installation pools during summer break to earn extra money and to keep up with his swimming workouts. Since pools are currently closed, Hall has been reassigned to support Coleman Gym staff and patrons.

“I’m glad the gyms are open,” Hall said. “I’m really looking forward to the pools opening again though.”

Until it is deemed safe to reopen pools, Hall instead uses the post gyms to work with free weights, another key element of his work outs to make him a stronger and faster swimmer.

Like Hall, Soldiers utilize the gym to train for the upcoming Army Combat Fitness Test. Although the date when the ACFT will replace the current Army Physical Fitness Test has been delayed due to the 2019 novel coronavirus, some Soldiers are taking the opportunity to resume training now that gyms have reopened.

“It’s been about three months since I have in the gym to get my workout in,” said Master Sgt. David Lowe, the Non-commissioned Officer-in-Charge of the Moncrief Army Health Clinic’s Radiology Department. “The ACFT is focused on events you train on in the gym such as the shuttle drag and dead lift. I feel safe here. There are extra attendants in here to wipe down equipment even after I wipe it down.”

Lowe is no stranger to harmful bacteria and viruses being in a medical professional. Although he works in a Radiology Department, he must be concerned about cleanliness of equipment as ill patients and those who have active infects are treated in his department.

“I’m glad they have the disinfection wipes available here,” Lowe said. “People often forget that there are other diseases out there then just coronavirus that are just as dangerous.”

According to McDaniel, gym staff uses the reduced gym hours to clean and sanitize gym facilities from top to bottom each day and continue the efforts throughout the day.

“We deep clean the entire gym and equipment every day, three-times-a-day,” McDaniel said. “We also clean the bathrooms every hour, on the hour.”

As the battle against the spread and containment of COVID-19 continues, the return to steady state continues. Additional services and resources will continue to slowly open as the current environment is deemed safer.

“Soldier and patrons are also doing their part to help keep everyone safe,” McDaniel said. “We are glad to be back, we’ve missed our patrons. We just ask for patience.”

Post gyms and fitness centers are now open Monday thru Friday from 5 a.m. until 8 p.m. and on weekends from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Active-duty, Reserve and National Guard service members in uniform will be the only personnel allowed to access the gyms and fitness centers from 5 to 7 a.m. Monday through Friday, all authorized patrons are invited back to the gym afterwards.

(Editor's note: For more information visit jackson.armymwr.com)