Student Athlete Column: Why RamFit Needs to Open

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The fitness center are restricted to student-athletes only. (courtesy of Fordham Athletics)

Kelly Bright, Staff Writer

I’m using my platform this week as a voice for non-varsity athletes at Fordham University. On Jan. 3, the school’s Office of the Vice President Administration announced COVID-19 limitations for the Spring 2022 semester including the closure of, “all campus fitness centers through Jan 31, 2022.” As a member of a scholarship team here at Fordham, I’m fortunate enough to still have access to our weight room and Lombardi training center. Working out has always been an outlet for me, like many others, to deal with stress and anxiety. Right now, thousands of students here are being blocked from a potentially vital space for improving mental and physical health during an emotionally taxing time as we enter into the third year of a global pandemic.

There is ample research and statistics that prove the legitimacy of exercise as a supplementary and/or replacement treatment to mental illness. For example, clinical trials performed by the University of Bergen in Norway found exercise to be roughly as effective as antidepressant drugs, with faster-acting effects and for a cheaper price. Engaging in physical activity releases endorphins – neurotransmitters that relieve pain and stress. Regular exercise has also been proven to boost serotonin levels in your brain which improve  mood, well-being, appetite and sleep cycles. Given the high stress nature of being a fulltime college student at an esteemed university, while also balancing extracurriculars, work and relationships (not to mention the added anxieties attached to living in a world dictated by a super-spreading and mutating virus), having a space dedicated to healthy physical release and stimulation should be a necessity at any college campus. 

Now, I understand you must take special precautions in dealing with a virus we still know very little about, but requiring full vaccination, negative tests and masks upon entrance into RamFit, as well as mandating designated cleaning times like in the fall semester, should be more than enough to warrant allowing students back into the gym. If a student has been deemed healthy and safe enough to enter a classroom, dining hall or common space, they should also be allowed to exercise (especially if masked-up). The students at this school are paying a substantial amount of tuition money to not even have access to crucial physical and mental health amenities. They shouldn’t have to spend even more money on purchasing at-home gym equipment or non-university gym memberships (where there would be even less sanitary monitoring) when there is a perfectly good fitness center located on the campus they’ve chosen to attend. 

I am blessed as a student-athlete at Fordham with productive outlets to destress and benefit my overall physical health. It is not fair that those who have similar passions or preferences for therapeutic activity lack the same basic rights as members of this institution. 

This is my call to action. Open Ram-Fit, open Lombardi and you open the door for better mental health for everyone.