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New director looks forward to reopening of Health and Human Performance Center at college

Jon Betz returns for second stint leading workout facility

Mike Easterling
Farmington Daily Times
The Health and Human Performance Center at San Juan College is closed during the COVID-19 shutdown, but Jon Betz will take over as director of the facility when it reopens.
  • Betz served as director of the center from 2004 to 2006.
  • Since then, he has served in other capacities at San Juan College.
  • He will assume his new position when the center reopens.

FARMINGTON — When he takes over as the new director of the Health and Human Performance Center at San Juan College — when social distancing restrictions are eased or lifted — Jon Betz won't be stepping into an entirely unfamiliar situation.

Betz, who has worked for the college in various capacities for the past 18 years, served as the coordinator of facilities and operations at the facility from 2002 to 2004, and as the director from 2004 to 2006. So he already knows some staff members and has a good idea of how the center operates on a day-to-day basis.

But in other respects, Betz will be starting from scratch. Managing a multifaceted workout facility in the midst of a worldwide viral outbreak is not something he, or anyone else, has any experience with. Betz knows that a number of challenges await him in the months ahead.

"This is new territory," Betz said. "The plan (for use of the facility) will be evaluated on a weekly basis, if not daily. We're going to have to be flexible and communicate with the community so everybody knows what to expect."

Betz is scheduled to move into his new job on May 1, or whenever the center reopens, leaving him somewhat in limbo. But that situation hasn't prevented him from considering what the center's operations might look like when it is able to begin serving patrons again.

Jon Betz

The Health and Human Performance Center features a fitness conditioning center, a 6,000-square-foot climbing tower, an elevated indoor track, a three-court gymnasium, a dance studio, a group exercise studio, an outdoor exercise area, an assessment area, a wellness resource center, an outdoor equipment rental center and a snack bar.

The center is open to all San Juan College students, faculty and staff members, and community members.

The first step is to prepare the 130,000-square-foot facility to receive users again, and that will involve a thorough cleaning and sanitizing of all the center's spaces and equipment. Betz noted the facility already had extensive daily cleaning protocols in place even before the COVID-19 outbreak, but he said those efforts will receive a new emphasis when the building reopens.

The real trick, he said, will be figuring out how to accommodate all the facility's patrons in a manner that is equitable. He said there are indications the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will issue social distancing guidelines that limit traffic in workout facilities to an average of one person every 100 square feet when those entities are allowed to reopen.

Obviously, that would mean a great reduction from the center's normal amount of traffic, Betz said, perhaps to somewhere in the neighborhood of 150 people at a time. How that would be enforced remains to be seen, but Betz said it likely would take the form of a staff member manning the door and directing the flow of people in and out of the building. Once the facility has reached its new limit of patrons, other users would need to wait in line to gain admittance, he suggested.

"Maybe we have a time limit (for patrons)," he said. "This is a chance for us to learn how to handle something like this in the event that there is a recurrence of COVID-19 in the winter."

Since leaving the HHPC in 2004, Betz has served as director of admissions and records, and senior director of admission and enrollment management. Those posts have given him the opportunity to see how the college operates from a variety of angles.

He said the perspective he has gained from those experiences have been invaluable as he returns to the familiar environs of the HHPC.

"I've seen a lot of changes — a lot of positive changes," he said, citing the progress the school has made in establishing academic pathways for students, its construction and expansion of a health sciences center, and the leadership displayed by its executive team.

The college also plans to open its first student housing facility in two years, something that is expected to drive even greater use of the HHPC. Edward DesPlas, the college's executive vice president, said in a statement he expects the facility will continue to grow and improve under Betz's leadership.

"With the anticipated opening of a student housing development in August 2022, the HHPC will be a primary source of community, recreation, health and co-curricular activities for student residents," DesPlas stated. "With Jon's experience in Student Services as well as the HHPC, he possesses the student-centric focus to fulfill those needs."

Betz said he looks forward to maximizing the center's potential in meeting the needs of those resident students. And he is excited about the possibilities of working with Farmington officials on the city's Outdoor Recreation Industry Initiative, as he believes the HHPC has a role to play in that.

All of those elements made his decision to return to the HHPC after so many years away an easy one, Betz said.

"When you work in a fitness facility, the patrons have the mentality of trying to improve themselves," he said. "It's nice to be around that energy of the people who work out in the facility, and I enjoy figuring out how we can help them."

Mike Easterling can be reached at 505-564-4610 or measterling@daily-times.com.