Effective Feb. 28, 2022, the indoor mask mandate on campus has been lifted everywhere except for classroom settings.
However, wearing a mask during a lecture is exceedingly different from wearing a mask at the gym. Varied feelings on the subject are inevitable, but the majority of students seem to be thrilled with this recent decision.
Freshman civil engineering major Christopher Colasanti says, “The second I heard we didn’t need to wear one anymore I ran straight to the gym.” He felt wearing a mask at the gym was really restricting during his workouts, especially with the constant interference from Eppley workers interrupting his workout if his mask accidentally slipped below his nose.
Similarly, freshman journalism major Alexander Gary says that not wearing a mask enables him to work out to the best of his ability and he feels he reaches peak performance.
“Working out with a mask on is so distracting, constantly having to worry about it moving on my face. You also feel all the sweat build up under the mask and it gets uncomfortable,” says Gary.
He feels that even though masks are very important for the safety of the UMD community, the removal of the mask requirement shows the pandemic is hopefully moving in the right direction.
Puja Parikh, a freshman government and politics major, made the decision to continue wearing a mask at the gym for the moment. “I'm just so used to it but more and more people feel more comfortable not wearing one which makes me feel more comfortable to stop wearing one eventually,” Parikh says she takes greater rests in between sets when wearing a mask at the gym, but it doesn’t bother her anymore like it had during her first semester. She says she likes how the option to still wear a mask is a personal choice.
Contrary to Parikh, junior finance major Manoel Fangmo Djouokep says that wearing a mask at the gym prevents him from taking his exercises as far as he wants to take them.
“The mask reduces the amount of oxygen you get which impacts your performance results,” says Djouokep, a personal trainer at Eppley Recreation Center. He says without a mask, you are able to take in more oxygen which allows for higher levels of performance. “Oxygen literally helps you perform better. If you do an exercise and close your nose, you are going to do half as many reps as if you had proper oxygen circulation,” says Djouokep.
Djouokep says that almost all of his clients no longer wear a mask during training sessions and it allows for easier communication between him and his clients. Before the mandate was lifted, Djouokep used to tell his clients to pull their masks slightly below their noses to enable more oxygen flow due to the increased difficulty to breathe when wearing one.
Colasanti and Gary can both agree that no longer wearing masks at the gym brings great relief when it comes to the overall setting at the gym, allowing them to hit their peak performance. Gary feels that with the revocation of the mask mandate, he will hit new personal records in his weight training more frequently.
Parikh affirms that she will not be wearing a mask at the gym anymore as the semester progresses, and she is excited for this transition that is starting to reinstate normality.