Bougeois Hall

NOTICE: The views expressed in The Vermilion's opinion pieces do not necessarily reflect those of The Vermilion staff or of the University of Louisiana at Lafayette.

The COVID-19 restrictions at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette Student Fitness Center inside Bourgeois Hall are ridiculous.

When a person first starts to lift weights, one of the first concepts they will learn is safety in the gym, along with how to lift properly to not only build your muscles but not hurt yourself in the process.

There are many restrictions that the fitness center is enforcing: stand six feet apart, wear a mask and clean the area you are using when you’re done using it.

I have a problem with wearing a mask while lifting, but I can understand it. The restriction I have the biggest problem with ties into gym safety, and that is the restriction on no spotting in the fitness center because of social distancing.

Spotting is a simple safety technique. One person is bench pressing or squatting, they have someone making sure the weight isn’t too much so the person doesn’t hurt themselves.

Most of the time you have a friend spot you or someone you trust because your life is essentially in their hands. From personal experience, it is terrifying sometimes. Try to go for a personal record and there is no one there to make sure you don’t drop a barbell on your chest or neck.

The fitness center offers other options to utilize instead of spotting such as using a safety bar which basically catches the bar before it hits you. A smith machine is a barbell attached to a cable and the bar is lighter. Then they say simply just put lighter weight on the bar.

There are problems with these options. The safety bar for bench pressing, specifically for squatting, I understand but I can’t logically see a way that benchpress can work like this. If you put it above your chest, you don’t properly stretch that muscle to build it. If it is below the chest or level with your chest, then the bar will hit your chest before it touches the safety bar.

Also, as I said, it is mostly friends who spot friends, so stopping the spotting like they won’t hang out when they leave the gym and be in close proximity is just crazy. The smith machine is useful and I actually recommend it to beginners in the gym to get used to the motion of bench press or a squat.

Then they graduate to just the bar, no cable, and build their strength with a spotter making sure they get there in one piece. So the smith machine is useful, but not as useful as properly bench pressing or squatting. Then they offer to lower the weight on the bar. While this does reduce the need for a spotter, it is more for toning your muscles as opposed to building them.

We are heading into the fall and winter seasons, which are known as “bulking season” amongst the gym community. That means you up your calories and you lift heavy and build your muscles up and in the spring and summertime you cut down and see your progress known as “cutting season.”

I understand we are in a weird time in the world and things are uncertain and we have to take things day by day. I, like most who frequent the gym, care about fellow gym-goers. We don't want to get them sick by any means because the gym will get shut down and we all lose in that scenario. But, we also want to make sure people aren’t hurting themselves and achieve their fitness goals. In order for them to achieve these goals spotters are necessary.

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