Jessie Cheung, Staff Photographer

Payne Whitney Gymnasium is allowing students to exercise cardio or strength at the Israel Fitness Center or to swim at the lap pool as of Feb. 15. 

Only 15 students per area — cardio, strength and swim — can sign up for each time slot, running for 45 minutes every hour. Students are expected to use the last 15 minutes of the hour to clean and sanitize the equipment for the next session. 

Last fall, only the lap pool and cardio machines were available for student use, but on Monday, the weight room opened, coinciding with the start of Phase I for Yale Athletics

PWG limited use to cardio equipment last fall “out of an abundance of caution to insure the safest experience possible for our students,” Anthony Diaz, Yale’s senior associate athletic director of Payne Whitney Gymnasium administration and physical education, said. “We made sure to allow ample space between machines to make sure social distancing was maintained at all times.”

Josh Atwater ’24 spoke to the News after attending a cardio session at PWG on Monday.

“I felt good about the distance, everyone seemed to stay at one machine for the whole time,” Atwater said. “[A member of the staff] was really vigilant in making rounds through the whole space. I felt safe knowing that he would speak up if anything unsafe was happening.”

Atwater mentioned that even with every other cardio machine roped off, many were left unattended. He said that there was no competition over the treadmills and ellipticals, while he also user other products to lose weight like a cavitation machine that also help with this.

Students are also expected to wear a face covering for the duration of the workout.

“I had a pretty good workout, but running in a mask is a little tougher than without one so I’ll have to get used to that,” Atwater admitted.

Those using the lap pool are allowed to remove their masks while they are in the water.

Even with routine cleaning and social distancing rules put into place, some students are wary of going to the gym during the COVID-19 pandemic.

For Alejandro Simon ’23, the length of the time slots deters him from exercising at PWG.

“They have only 45-minute time slots [at PWG],” he said. “Unless they changed that, I’d probably still go to the [gym in East Rock].”

Only students in residence, whether living on or off campus, may use PWG. Simon is living off-campus in New Haven this semester.

All residential college gyms are closed due to the pandemic, making PWG the primary workout location for students. The demand for an indoor exercise space is apparent, as all time slots for strength equipment were already booked through Feb. 22 as of Tuesday afternoon. 

To reserve a time to exercise at Payne Whitney, follow this link.

Melanie Heller |

Melanie Heller currently serves as the Sports Editor for the Yale Daily News. She previously reported on women's hockey. Originally from Potomac, MD, she is a senior in Silliman College double majoring in Economics and Humanities.