Nicolas Cholula grew up in Orange County, Calif., where he first picked up a film camera while working at a thrift store and quickly fell in love with photography. Nicolas chased his passion into community college, where he took his first classes in photography. Since then, Nicolas has become most interested in telling stories from his community and photographing current events. He is currently working toward his Bachelor of Arts in Photojournalism at San Francisco State University and works as the Multimedia Editor for the Golden Gate Xpress.
Doors reopen to Mashouf Wellness Center
Students, staff glad to return to gym after COVID-19 closure
September 24, 2021
Cory Justice, dressed in his workout clothes, practiced shooting three-pointers, free throws and lay-ups with ease and accuracy amid the loud squeaking of shoes and the other gym goers.
Justice, a senior and a business management major, said he felt right at home shooting hoops in the Mashouf Wellness Center, a place he frequents most days of the week to compete in pickup games and lift weights.
But there was one type of shot he was having a little trouble performing: dunking. His fingers would be inches from reaching the rim, grabbing the net instead as the ball went away from the basket.
Justice said he was a bit rusty at dunking as a result of the wellness center closing last Spring, choosing to relax and not play basketball because of the worrisome atmosphere the pandemic created. Now a year later, he’s glad to be back playing the sport he loves at the place he loves to play the game at.
Both gym employees and patrons share Justice’s excitement to be back at the wellness center. The gym, which opened on Aug. 23rd, saw pre-pandemic attendance numbers upon reopening, even with added COVID-19 protocols in place, according to Val Rodriguez, one of the student building supervisors.
Justice has been going to the wellness center since 2019, and moved back to his home in Southern California when SF State shut down.
“Once school opened back up and they said that the gym was open back up, I quickly just kinda just came back, because this is the best gym around for me without necessarily having to pay for it,” Justice said. “This is definitely a luxury and a benefit for me and I really enjoy it.”
Justice receives financial aid from SF State and also gets a grant because his father was in the Navy. Justice got a membership for City Sports Club, located in Stonestown, but noted that its rates were too expensive for him, making the wellness center the most affordable option.
Rodriguez and other staff walk around to ensure high touch areas are sanitized, gym patrons clean the equipment they use and wear masks while working out. If someone does not comply with the rules they risk getting kicked out of the gym, which has happened in recent weeks, Rodriguez said.
Up the stairs past the closed rock climbing walls is where many students lift weights, run on either the treadmills or on the indoor track, and work on ab exercises on the ground near the large windows. It is here where Gabriel Garcia had his headphones in, doing push-ups and sit-ups.
During the wellness center’s closure, Garcia, a graduate student in history, worked out in his southern California home. While he has his own gym equipment, it was a temporary space and he prefers the quality of the equipment at the wellness center because he can properly measure how much he can press or lift.
Garcia was excited to get back to his workout routine at the wellness center, and is satisfied with the protocols in place.
“I think they’ve been doing really good from what I’ve been seeing, they’ve been diligent in making sure all the towels are set up and cleaned and that there’s an abundance,” Garcia said. “Making sure everyone is signed in, making sure everything is neat.”
Because of the closure of the wellness center, not only were gym users’ workouts affected, but also the employment status of wellness center staff for around a year.
Once being laid off from working at the wellness center, Rodriguez first was able to claim unemployment, but then when the money ran out, they decided to work at a Walmart in their hometown of Stockton from October 2020 to August of this year.
Working at the apparel section at Walmart wasn’t a long term plan for them, and when they got the call to return they were ecstatic.
“Yeah, it was the environment and the customers, I just felt so exhausted being there compared to the Mashouf,” said Rodriguez via text message. “I felt very welcomed being at the Mashouf … I would say I was jumping for joy when I found out we were coming back.”
In an email correspondence with Michael Wong, director of Campus Recreation, he stated that since the wellness center reopened, maintenance and safety were the staff’s main priorities.
The staff complete daily COVID-19 screenings for gym goers. They verify submitted COVID-19 checks with a green circle before entering the gym’s gates. To do so, gym users scan a QR Code with their phones to confirm their details.
Many of the amenities the wellness center provides have reopened, the exception being the rock climbing wall, hot tub and dry sauna because their usage does not fit current COVID-19 guidelines.
According to information sent in an email correspondence from Aquatics and Safety Programs Coordinator, Ben Forchini, students are required to wear their face masks in the facility except when actually in the pool.
The pool is only available through reservation, and has reduced its occupancy to six people total in the lap pool and four people in the activity pool.
Once students are cleared to enter the wellness center, they have the option to check out a basketball to use on the courts. Once there, Justice mentioned that the intensity level is at around an eight out of 10.
“Most of the time the players are in a ‘play to win’ mindset. They compete to win but are very good at showing love after the game has ended regardless of who won or lost,” Justice said in a text message.