Difficulties Securing Reservations at University Fitness Centers


Courtesy of Villanova Athletics

The Davis Center is the biggest gym on campus.

Molly Mook, Staff Writer

University students are experiencing difficulty securing fitness center reservations this semester as a result of high demand for the spots and quick booking rates.

On March 1, University Fitness and Recreation Coordinator Gina Palermo sent an email to students reminding them of the fitness center policies, especially urging them to only book sessions that they are able to attend and to cancel their reservations when necessary so that someone on the waitlist can get the spot. 

“We know that reservations have been extremely popular this semester, compared to the fall,” Palermo wrote in the email. “We are hoping this message helps us in communicating to all of you how important it is to only book reservations that you know you can attend. Cancelling your reservation, if you know you cannot attend, is an important step in allowing other Villanova members the chance to use the fitness centers.”

Reservation sign-ups through the scheduling system are open exactly three days in advance. There are five places to work out: Arch Gym, Davis Center, Farley Gym, Stanford cardio room and Stanford weight room. 

Arch and Stanford’s weight rooms can both hold 16 people per hour, Davis can hold 48 and Farley and Stanford’s cardio rooms can each hold 16.

“The capacities of the fitness centers vary depending on square footage and compliance within the guidelines of the CDC and Villanova,” Palermo said. 

“Signing up for the gym has been a big change from last semester and unfortunately much more challenging,” sophomore Emma Cottage said. “I rarely had difficulty getting a spot last semester and could even wait until the day of most times to sign up. This semester, if you don’t sign up for your spot within five minutes of it becoming available, you will not get a spot. Lately all spots have even been taken within one minute. This is super frustrating since I have to constantly set alarms to sign up for the gym, and having to do it days in advance is tough since I don’t always know exactly what time I will want to go.”

Justin Rush, a sophomore who uses Arch Gym, described similar difficulties.

“I was able to book a few sessions in January, but otherwise my workouts have been done in my apartment,” he said. “Last semester was far better, and I can’t say I had any complaints about booking sessions.”

Palermo explained that she believes the main reason the fitness centers are booking much faster this semester is probably because of the weather.

“In the fall, the weather was warmer, which allowed people to work out more outdoors,” she said. “We are also still receiving requests for fitness center accounts each day.”

To be exact, there were about 4,200 total accounts for the scheduling platform in the fall semester. There are now around 5,000 accounts, and the number is still rising. This means that there are already an extra 800 people using the fitness centers. 

A contributing factor to the inaccessibility of gym times is that people often sign up for a time that does not work with their schedule, or they skip out on their session without cancelling the reservation. 

“It is frustrating since a lot of the times when I get to the gym, it’s not too crowded as you would expect based on the sign ups, so people are probably booking and not showing up,” Cottage said. 

Though this means that the fitness centers are not always at capacity, students are not supposed to show up unless they have a secured reservation. 

“If you are on a waitlist, you will receive an email notifying you ifsomeone cancelled and you are eligible to attend that specific reservation,” Palermo said. “We are asking people not to show up without receiving the email confirmation. The other reason for this is because people have an hour from the start time of their reservation to come into the fitness center so there still is a chance someone may arrive late.”

When asked about instituting a system which would penalize students for not showing up for their gym reservations too many times, Palermo explained that she has had recurring conversations about this move with her staff but would not like it to get to this point. 

“The fitness center reservation crisis is depriving many students of working out in a time where exercise is the only way to mentally cope with a lack of in-person classes and activities,” sophomore DJ Comerford said. “It is imperative that we make an effort to open back up fully for the sake of students’ mental health.”

“Moving forward, as well all have experienced this past year, COVID is changing daily,” Palermo said. “We won’t know when exactly we can expand our capacities until the state of Pennsylvania and Villanova updates their guidelines.”

She hopes that this article will get the message out for students to only book gym times that they will attend and to cancel when necessary.