How to stay safe at the gym post-lockdown
It’s official: gyms have had the green light to reopen their doors since 25th July. During lockdown we’ve seen a shift in the way many people exercise – heading to nature spots to run or cycle, or choosing to exercise at home, with apps and videos to guide workouts.
Whether you can’t wait to reunite with your favourite gym equipment or you’re understandably feeling reserved, if and when you do return, there will need to be a few changes. It’s important to safely ease back into the gym environment while considering others around you.
Is it safe to go back to the gym?
Gyms should have reopened following government guidance to put new safety measures in place. These changes make the gym a safer place, but it’s not a sure thing. If you’re at a higher risk of serious illness, it’s best to stick to the home workouts for now. Think you have COVID-19 symptoms? Forget the gym – stay home to protect yourself and others.
Some of the new safety measures you’ll notice will include:
- Hand sanitiser stations
- More frequent cleaning by staff
- Limited capacity at one time
- Reduced class sizes with floor markings for distancing
- Spaced out equipment
- One-way systems and queues
How COVID-19 spreads in gyms and classes
There’s no denying that gyms and exercise classes are hot, sweaty environments. According to researchers, the spread of COVID-19 in gyms is down to the warmth and moisture in the air combined with people’s heavy breathing. Gyms with poor circulation and more crowded spaces create a bigger risk for transmitting the virus – that’s why social distancing is so important.
7 tips for a safe gym visit
1. Plan ahead
If your heart is set on getting back to your routine, be prepared. Give your gym a call to get an idea of how busy it is, and see if you need to book a time slot. Many facilities, classes and smaller spaces will only allow certain numbers at a time.
2. Get your kit on at home
There’s likely to be changing rooms open but using them isn’t encouraged. Get into your exercise gear at home so you can get straight on the machines without worrying about small spaces. Besides, it saves time!
3. Pack light
You might not be able to use the lockers (another thing to check when you call up in advance) so try to leave your valuables at home. Water fountains may be out of bounds so make sure you bring a bottle to keep hydrated.
4. Be kind to equipment
Most gyms will provide cleaning supplies, so use them! Give machinery and weights a wipe down before and after use. You might also want to take your own disinfectant wipes with you.
5. Keep the noise down
Shouting to other gym goers can cause a higher risk of transmission and is likely to worry people around you, so stick to solo sessions for the time being.
6. Don’t forget the public health advice
The hygiene advice still stands: wash your hands regularly for 20 seconds, catch your sneeze in a tissue and bin it, keep your distance from others and use hand sanitiser regularly. Your spotters will thank you.
7. Don’t push too hard
Before you go back, it’s important to evaluate your health and fitness levels. If you haven’t lifted heavy weights since early March, you may be putting yourself at risk of injury if you jump straight back into your previous routine. Start by putting less strain on your body and ask for advice from a health professional or personal trainer.
If it all sounds a little intimidating, don’t worry, you’re not alone. There are still plenty of ways to fit exercise into your daily life and workout at home.
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