Over the past year, our worlds have been turned upside down, and this has highlighted more so than ever the therapeutic nature of regular exercise. But for countless people all over the world that are reliant on a gym to get their movement therapy in, things have been tough.
With most gyms closed recently, we have been forced to adapt and some have found this more difficult than others. But there is light at the end of the tunnel; in some places, gyms are starting to be allowed to operate again, which is an exciting prospect. But the thought of hitting the gym may trigger some feelings of anxiety but there’s plenty you can to do minimise the risk to yourself and others when getting back into your training.
1. If you feel unwell DO NOT go to the gym
This is a matter of social responsibility. Even if you are not suffering the symptoms specific to COVID, staying home when you are unwell will mean that no-one else needs to feel the stress that comes with feeling unwell worrying it may be COVID. Staying home will also speed up your recovery so this is the best option for everyone.
2. Call your gym, ask them about the strategies they have in place to protect their members and staff. Here are some questions to ask:
- Have you rearranged your facility to allow for social distances on equipment, machines, and in classes?
- Are you tracking the facility’s capacity to ensure social distancing can be upheld?
- What cleaning procedures are in place and what cleaning products are available for use during my session?
- What changes have been made to facility use in order to ensure cleanliness and safety?
If the staff cannot answer these questions clearly then use your judgment to decide if attending your regular gym is a smart choice for you.
There are strict regulations that need to be upheld in fitness facilities, and it is important that staff know how important it is to their members that they enforce these regulations. Keep in mind that these protocols are a massive undertaking for gyms and their staff, and will incur high costs. So, while it is important they adhere to these regulations, it is also important to ensure you are kind and understanding of their challenging situation. Gym owners are just trying to make a living after months of not being allowed to!
3. Protect yourself and others:
- Wear a fabric mask (reserve surgical masks and N-95 respirators for health care workers) when you are in areas where it is difficult to maintain social distancing. If you are attending a class or maybe an outdoor session where movement is quite unpredictable these are both scenarios that may require a mask. While this may be uncomfortable or take some time to get used to, it is a small price to pay to be able to access gyms and fitness programs again.
- Wipe the equipment down before and after use - this may slow down your session and may also produce waste (depending on the cleaning products provided by your gym), but it is an essential strategy to avoid cross-contamination. There may be some equipment that is difficult to clean, so whenever
- Do not share equipment whenever possible - Another strategy that can slow down your session but is crucial to ensure the hygiene of the equipment you are using. You may normally share machines during supersets, but this time-saving strategy needs to be put aside for the time being.
- Bring your own sweat towel and use it on the benches and machines after you have wiped them down, prior to doing your sets. Put it on top of your yoga mat whenever possible or on the floor if you are doing floor work. Wash it after every session and do not share your towel with others. Understand that now, more than ever before, you may be refused entry to your gym if you do not have a towel and cannot purchase one.
4. Shower at home whenever possible, avoid shared ice baths, saunas, and amenities such as hairdryers and hair straighteners.
Even though the prospect of getting back into the gym is exciting, it is important to understand the expectations of your gym and your own behaviour while training. If you have a compromised immune system or are in regular contact with someone else who is highly susceptible to covid, it may not be worth the risk. The good news is that there is plenty you can do in terms of training at home, whether you have equipment or not, if you’re not ready to return to the gym. If you want some inspo, here is a fire outdoor session from our girls Jaz and Nasty.
So if it suits you support your gym and your own health by getting back into your training, but be sure to stay home at the slightest hint of any symptoms and adhere to the measures in place to stop the spread and keep us all healthy!