UT-Austin students stay active during pandemic with at-home workouts, RecSports services

Tori Duff

Since getting to class has changed from commuting to campus to simply opening a laptop, it’s been more challenging for students to stay physically active while stuck at home.

Lack of activity can affect cognitive health, making online learning more difficult, and it can affect students’ physical health, said Darla Castelli, physical education pedagogy, health behavior and health education professor. She said attentional reset and short bouts of activity are key.

“Breaking up the long periods of sedentary time really has importance,” Castelli said. “Every hour, we need to do some sort of physical activity.” 

Gregory Gym and RecSports services are available this semester with social distancing. Jennifer Speer, senior director of communications, development and memberships for RecSports, said most amenities are open with limited capacities as of Sept. 14, and students can make reservations online to use weight rooms.

“We also have virtual options,” Speer said. “You can do TeXercise all virtually, you can do it all in person or you can do a combo of both. We recognize that many students might not feel comfortable coming into our spaces.” 


Speer said Gregory Gym is following campus health and safety guidelines. Speer said additional student staff have been added to every shift for more cleaning, and visitors are required to bring their own towels.

“Our biggest concern right now is obviously student safety, so we're making sure we are following campus guidelines,” Speer said. “You have to wear a mask, (and) we're cleaning like crazy.” 

Business sophomore Antonio Arias said he has had to get creative with his workout routine at home because he feels nervous about using public facilities to exercise.

“I'm doing a workout routine based around a backpack,” Arias said. “I found a way to transform (it) into a different muscle group machine. You can put detergent inside, and you put in enough so it weighs as much as you want it to weigh.” 

Speer also said RecSports locations such as Whitaker Courts and Caven-Clark Field are a good resource for student organizations to safely meet in person. RecSports offers virtual and in-person, socially distanced classes, including yoga, climbing and Zumba classes. 

“We have enough fields that we can space you out and work with individual student organizations to really plan ways to be together,” Speer said. “We would love to help in that sense.”