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Staff Spotlight: Patty Donohue-Ebach, Fitness Center

November 02, 2020

Today for “Staff Spotlight” we’re sitting down with Patty Donohue-Ebach, Recreation Manager for the Fitness Center and Sports Dome, to understand the challenges the team has faced this year, what facilities are open and how many people are allowed.

Patty Donohue-EbachSchoolcraft College: Hello, Patty. The Fitness Center certainly is an important part of Schoolcraft College for faculty, students and the community. Please give us an update on where we’re at with the Fitness Center, when you’re open and what protocols are in place.

Patty Donohue-Ebach: The Fitness Center reopened on Wednesday, September 9, the first day that fitness centers like ours were allowed to reopen in the State of Michigan. Our hours are 8 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday. On Fridays, our hours are 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. We hope to be able to open on weekends in the new year.

SC: What procedures are in place to use the Fitness Center?

Patty: All members are required to complete a COVID-19 health questionnaire and show clearance before being allowed to work out in the Fitness Center. Masks/face coverings are required by members as they enter the Fitness Center and while working out. Limited medical exceptions are made for members who have indicated that they cannot tolerate a mask or face covering while working out, but they must wear one at all other times while in the Center.

Further, all Fitness Center staff wear face coverings while working in the Fitness Center, including student employees. To help with contact tracing, members check in and check out when they are done with their workouts.

SC: How many people are allowed in the Fitness Center?

Patty: We may have up to 52 members working out at any one time, which is 25% of our capacity. Even during the pre-COVID days, we never had that many people working out at one time, so we don’t anticipate anyone having to wait to work out.

Our equipment is placed in the Center to allow 6 to 10 feet of space between all of our pieces. Members are encouraged, via reminder signs, to continue to distance safely from other members and staff while they are working out. We also have new cleaning and disinfecting protocols in place with all the equipment, particularly on all the high-touch areas of the equipment.

SC: What’s been the reaction so far?

Patty: Returning members have been fantastic about all of the new “rules” that are in place. They are just happy to be back, working out in a safe, clean place with friendly, helpful faces! Most are grateful that we are following recommended protocols and appreciate all of the extra efforts that the staff is taking to ensure their safety.

SC: I’m sure you heard from people how much they missed the pool when that facility had to be closed. When did it open back up and what procedures are in place for use?

Patty: The pool reopened to limited open swim hours on the same day that the Fitness Center reopened. Open swim is from 12:30 p.m. to 1:30 p.m., Monday through Friday. Swimmers must stop at the Fitness Center front desk to show their COVID health screening clearance, check in to receive a swim pass and then check back in with us when they are done to return their pass.

SC: What’s the capacity for the pool?

Patty: The pool has a capacity limit of 18 participants right now for Open Swim. Many days we have been getting close to that capacity number, so use of the pool is very popular! The Continuing Education department developed and offered three “skill level dependent” open swim time slots that run three times every morning, Monday through Friday.

Interested swimmers signed up for those several weeks ago. Those were purchased through Continuing Education for a 10-week block. We are hoping that Continuing Education will continue to evaluate and add more classes for interested swimmers as the semester progresses.

SC: You’ve served Schoolcraft College for 15 years, both as an instructor for six years and as our Fitness Center Manager for the past nine years. Please tell us a little about your background and your career.

Patty: After obtaining my bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Exercise Physiology from the best University in the world, U of M (Go Blue!), I have worked in a variety of health and fitness settings and workplaces. I started my career managing a private health club in downtown Detroit before moving on to the Metro Detroit YWCA AND YMCA system, where I spent five years working as a Physical Education Director for the Metro Detroit YMCA (Livonia).

I then moved on to work for a small company that focused on managing employee health and fitness programs. This is the job that gave me the necessary experience to move on to my position with Johnson & Johnson Healthcare. I spent nearly 10 years with them working in their contracted employee fitness centers primarily based at Ford Motor Company in Dearborn managing their employee Fitness Center and wellness programs. In my final two years with J & J I worked as a Regional Manager, overseeing multiple fitness centers in the Midwest.

In between all of this, in my spare time, I taught CPR and First Aid as a certified Red Cross instructor and have taught fitness and exercise classes at various fitness environments. Additionally, due to strong personal interest, I enrolled in and finished a Masters Certificate in Complementary and Alternative Medicine at Oakland University in 2005.

I have been in the field of health, fitness and recreation for over 35 years and wouldn't change a thing. I made a very smart decision at a young age and it turned out to be a fantastic career. You need lots of energy and enthusiasm to stay in this field-and I would say I definitely have that.

SC: What is one thing you want people to know about our Fitness Center?

Patty: I want people to know that the Schoolcraft Fitness Center is a fantastic place to work out. We have amazing staff (professional and student staff). We have created a culture here that is welcoming to everyone regardless of age (we service everyone from 18-year-old credit student members to community members in their 90s!), fitness experience or knowledge of exercise. Our culture is one of acceptance and fun! Our tone is set from the time a new member signs up, and we're proud of how we have made this a really great place to be on Campus.

SC: How can you become a member of the Schoolcraft College Fitness Center?

Patty: Signing up to be a member is an “in-person” event at our front reception desk. So either call the Fitness Center at 734-462-4348 for more information or stop by (the Fitness Center is conveniently located in the Physical Education building on Campus) and we'll take care of getting you officially enrolled as a member!