The ThunderWolf Recreation Center on the campus of Colorado State University Pueblo has reopened to faculty, staff and students after the coronavirus pandemic forced the school to shut it down five months ago.

The popular facility is now implementing new protocols for the health and safety of the campus community after it was forced to close its doors in March because of the ongoing pandemic.

Emily McElwain, director of the recreation center, said the recreation center is open to CSU Pueblo faculty, staff and students at this time and will reopen to community members in the future.

“The biggest challenge right now is a varying degree of peoples’ belief and trying to manage those expectations while keeping people safe,” McElwain said Tuesday.

She said the ThunderWolf recreation staff developed a plan that considered numerous health guidelines including the state and county, American Red Cross and the American Heart Association.

“Our student crew and our professional crew put in a lot of effort to follow guidelines specifically so we can stay open safely.”

McElwain said the center is very important to the university.

“It’s been incredibly important in the last few weeks with changes from athletics. We’ve seen an increase in student traffic users just because they are not able to practice and compete in the same way,” she said.

“So it is good that we have this open to them.”

McElwain said about half of staff and faculty who regularly used the facility have elected to come back.

“It was for personal reasons. I don’t think it was because of anything we are doing. It’s based on if they feel comfortable or not,” she said.

McElwain said all members of the recreation center are now required to complete a health screening prior to using the facility and an updated COVID-19 risk waiver.

Recreation staff also will monitor building capacity through real-time updates that are available online so that members and visitors can determine what times work best for their comfort and safety.

The site can be found at

Additional safety measures instituted by recreation center staff include providing a small bottle of disinfectant and a fresh laundered towel to members at the beginning of each visit.

Staff regularly sanitized the facility and have rearranged exercise equipment and repurposed workout areas to ensure physical distancing.

“The ThunderWolf Recreation Center team of staff and student employees have learned many new procedures to maintain the center’s excellence and ensure the health and safety of our members,” McElwain said.

Because in-person group fitness activities are not currently available, the recreation center has implemented a new online fitness site called PackFit for members. The program can be accessed on YouTube and offers virtual opportunities for yoga, warm up and cool down guided workouts and other exercises.

The CSU Pueblo Outdoor Pursuits program, which is part of the recreation center also has begun offering additional services due to the pandemic.

The program allows CSU Pueblo members and the broader community to rent mountain bikes, camping and backpacking gear and winter-snow equipment. Rentals are included in a CO-OP membership which can be purchased each semester.

The equipment rental shop is open Monday through Friday from 12:30 p.m. until 5:30 p.m. and is located on the west side of the recreation center.

Scott Robertshaw, associate director of student recreation and outdoor pursuits, said the staff has been working hard to provide high quality recreational options in the ever-changing dynamic environment.

“Curbside pickup and dropoff are available for members who are not comfortable entering the facility,” Robertshaw said.

Information regarding equipment rental and CO-OP memberships can be found by visiting Reservations can be made 24 hours in advance online or over the phone at 549-2091.

Chieftain reporter Anthony A. Mestas can be reached by email at [email protected] or at Help support local journalism with a subscription to the Chieftain at