A User’s Guide to COVID-Proof Gym Workouts

Updated on July 26th, 2020
Is It Safe To Work Out In Gym

Exercise is good for mental and physical health, but with coronavirus cases surging across the globe, exercising indoors with others could increase your chance of infection. So, as gyms reopen around the world, here are some things to consider before heading for your workout.

Fitness Amid the Pandemic

Fitness(1) has become more of a necessity and more of a concern. We’re spending less time on our feet, doing fewer steps, moving a lot less than before the lockdown.

Indoors vs Outdoors

Exercising outdoors means you get enough sunlight, some fresh air, and a change of scene — all of which are crucial amid the lockdown.

Exercising with a mask on will probably be more uneasy the more rigorous your routine, so stick to a simple cardiovascular workout like a run or aerobics. A lot of the discomfort and risk can be avoided if you work out indoors.

You don’t have to worry about contacting surfaces; you don’t have to wear a mask;  and family and friends can join in.

Why You Must Work Out

Lack of exercise can affect physical health, impair your immune system,  and aggravate the existing condition.

It can fasten the onset of lifestyle disorders such as obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease, which was growing due to poor diets and sedentary lifestyles, even before the lockdown.

Meanwhile,  exercising can strengthen everything from your lungs to digestive and immune systems, get the endorphins flowing, boost circulation, improve your mood,  and cardiovascular health.

What gyms should do to reduce the risk

The CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) revised its web portal to emphasize that touching contaminated surfaces does not appear to be the primary way for the virus to spread.

Even then, gyms are taking precautions, from purchasing electrostatic sprayers to ensure every millimeter of the surface area is sanitized to getting rid of porous equipment like foam rollers.

Some of the critical changes gyms across the globe are making to reduce risk include:

1. New check-in procedures

All gyms should implement a contact-free check-in process and should perform temperature scans.  Fitness Centers should have the most rigorous check-in protocols. Before being allowed to enter the premises, members should answer questions, including: “Are you experiencing any flu-like symptoms?

Is anyone in their home presently under corona quarantine? They then have their temperature taken and should be given a wristband to signal to staffers they qualified the health screening.

[Also Read: Conditioning Goals for your Fitness Program]

2. Gloves and Masks for staff

Scientists believe the virus spreads majorly from person to person through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person sneezes, coughs, or talks.  Gyms should mandate their staff to wear face gloves and masks.

Instead of masks, spin instructors should wear clear face shields that better accommodate microphones while still providing a barrier of protection.  People doing low-impact exercises should wear a mask.

3. Physical Distancing

Gyms should strictly implement the Centers for Disease Control, and Prevention’s suggested six feet of social distancing by spacing out everything from lockers to cardio equipment and encourage members to flash a thumbs up in place of a high five. 

Fitness staff should conduct trial runs of socially distanced group fitness classes to ensure that floor graphics keep customers six to eight feet apart.

Gyms should shut down contact sports like basketball, and those that have opened pools should limit usage to singular-lane swimming. Regarding personal training,  ensure social distancing by replacing hands-on adjustments using verbal cues.  Appoint room ambassadors to go around the facility and ensure physical distancing.

[Also Read: Why is Physical Distancing Necessary]

4. Smaller class sizes and no shared equipment

Gyms should continue exclusively with virtual group fitness classes in the initial phase of reopening. Facilities resuming in-person classes should scale back the number of participants to ensure physical distancing. Signing up in advance should be encouraged and, in some instances, be made mandatory.

If gyms are offering more than 100 exercise classes, they have to reduce each studio’s maximum capacity to allow 100 square feet or more per person during each class. Accommodate 8 people plus an instructor rather than 35.  Change HIIT (High-Intensity Interval Training) class format from 4 groups of 4 people to 8 groups of 2 people.

5. Double-duty cleaning

The stink of gym socks and sweat should be replaced by the scent of disinfectant and hand sanitizer, and gyms should ramp up the number of cleaning stations stocked with EPA-approved products.

All facilities should ask members to clean equipment (free weights, treadmills, kettlebells, etc.) before and after use, and staff should regularly patrol gym floors performing frequent sanitization. Extra time should be added between group fitness classes so studios can be sanitized before- and after use. 

Gym hours should be allowed for deep overnight cleaning. Fitness clubs should initially be open for one-hour sessions throughout the day, followed by a half an hour closure for sanitizing between sessions.

6. Limiting Amenities

Water fountains should be shut down, and towels should be offered per request. Keep saunas, showers, and steam rooms non-functioning for now. Restrooms should be made available.  Block off every other shower and every 3 lockers, and limit each locker bay to 4 persons.

[Also Read: Tips to Stay Fit When Sheltering In Place]

7. Pushing Nonpeak Hours

The average gym facility space is 25,000 sq ft. With most gyms only allowed to initially reopen at twenty-five to forty per cent of their regular capacity, members are nearly guaranteed 1,000 sq ft per customer even during non-peak hours. If your gymnasium isn’t as spacious, ask when the foot traffic is least.

Post an online chart that shows average club usage to help members avoid busy hours. A boon for elderly gym-goers, fitness clubs should offer an exclusive workout time slot for the 60-plus people.

Bottom Line 

We’re concerned about fitness more too. We see comorbidities change the survival chances of those with the novel coronavirus, becoming more aware of the necessity for exercise and are taking it more seriously. Moreover, it’s not a question of ‘oh, I must try and live strong.’ It’s a real urgent compulsion.

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