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Ping Recreation Center at Ohio University in Athens, Ohio. Sep. 15, 2023.

Aging HVAC system results in Ping closures

The Ping Recreation Center, located at 82 S. Green Drive, has reportedly closed fitness studios and canceled group exercise classes due to complications with the building's heating, ventilation and air conditioning, or HVAC, system.

Assistant Director of Ping Hanna Vorisek said the gym follows an approved Heat Index Chart by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. If the recreation center’s temperature reaches 90 degrees or more, it becomes unsafe for activity. 

Vorisek said the cause of the fitness center’s high temperatures is due to an aging control panel on the HVAC system; however, it is currently unknown how long closure delays will continue. 

“As a facility, we have seen unstable temperatures with an aging building,” Vorisek wrote in an email. “Facility Maintenance is aware of the fluctuations and is currently working on short and long-term solutions.”

The heat isn’t just affecting the participants of group exercise classes. Instructors must take additional precautions to protect themselves and their pupils from dehydration, muscle fatigue and heat exhaustion. 

Nora Haycook is a yoga instructor for the recreation center and she teaches the 9:30 a.m. yoga classes on Fridays. Haycook said heat can be helpful to warm up the muscles before a yoga class, but with the rising temperatures, it would make the class a hot yoga class – a style of yoga performed under hot or humid conditions – and that is not what people signed up for. 

“As an instructor, I am keeping my class at a slower pace and make sure I am intentional with each movement,” Haycook wrote in a text. “I want my students to feel as comfortable as possible with the rising temperatures.” 

Assistant Director for Well-Being and Fitness Tony Gregory said the decision to cancel group fitness classes is determined when temperatures exceed what would be considered a safe environment for hosting the classes in. 

With the popularity and promotion of wellness, recreation and group fitness services on campus, Ohio University students express varying concerns about program consistency at Ping.

Jenna Carpenter, a freshman studying journalism, said she goes to Ping six days a week and has noticed an increase in temperature throughout the building. 

“I definitely have to take more breaks because I'm definitely sweating more, and I'm losing a lot of water retention, which makes me a lot more thirsty, so I take a lot more breaks during my workout,” Carpenter said. “And also, I have to be really careful; I have to eat before because I get really dizzy if I don't.”

Carpenter said she went to Ping in the morning, and the first- and second-floor gyms were closed for a portion of the time she planned to work out.  

Chloe Chesnik, a junior studying media arts production, participates in Ping’s group fitness cycling classes, and she is frustrated with the gym’s closing because she looks forward to classes every day. 

“I guess … I’ll just have to figure out my own workout (but) it’s not as fun as having an instructor tell you what to do for a given amount of time and then you’re done,” Chesnik said. 

Vorisek advised any gym-goers using Ping’s facilities to be aware of the rising temperatures. 

 “Be aware of temperature and your body … Stay hydrated, take multiple breaks and remove yourself from the warm environments if needed,” Vorisek wrote in an email. 

While students, staff and Athens community members wait for Ping to resume its normal operations, there are other nearby options for individuals looking to continue exercise while away from the gym: hiking at Strouds Run State Park, 11661 State Park Rd., the Hockhocking Adena Bikeway – starting along the Hocking River at OU – sand volleyball and outdoor basketball, located on the university’s South Green campus.

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