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How to stay safe at the gym after lockdown

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The roadmap out of lockdown is fully underway, and gyms in England are expected to reopen again from the 12th of April. The strict first lockdown saw a huge shift in the way people exercise, with some having more free time than ever before, but only a precious one-hour window for local outdoor exercise. Something about that time limitation had an effect on people’s attitudes towards getting out of the house, and people were walking, cycling, and jogging out of doors.

Indoor exercising hit a high, with people of all ages using exercise apps and videos to structure their daily workouts. Thousands of YouTube exercise videos were tailored towards home-schooled children as the world adjusted to the restrictions.

Now we’re heading back towards a ‘new normal’, measures are being put in place everywhere to reduce the risk of spreading infection. But some of us are understandably feeling cautious about returning to the gym, where heavy breathing and sweaty palms seem unavoidable. Here’s what we know so far.

Is it safe to go back to the gym?

Strict measures have been put in place to minimise the risk of infection in all public places – those where people are exercising are no exception.

What are gyms and sports centres doing to keep us safe?

The staff at gyms and leisure centres are working to keep everyone safe and well. The changes they’re making include:

  • Hand sanitiser – this will be provided at key points throughout the building
  • Strict, frequent cleaning schedules
  • Cleaning sprays and wipes available for everyone to use before and after using equipment
  • Limiting the number of people allowed in any session, with pre-booking as standard
  • Less, and well spaced-out equipment
  • One-way systems and markings for socially-distanced queueing

There are still strict rules about isolating, so if you or anyone close to you has COVID-19 symptoms, you must stay at home and follow the guidelines for testing.

How can I get back to the gym safely?

Getting back to the gym safely is going to take a little extra effort on all sides. As well as following government guidance and keeping our hands and equipment clean, there are some extra measures we can take.

Book a time

Booking slots for visiting anywhere that has restrictions on numbers is set to become part of the ‘new normal’. Knowing whether – and how – you need to book time at the gym is the first step to getting back.

Get your kit on

The less time you can spend going in and out of different areas, the better. Getting there in your gear, straight in at the start and straight out at the end, can reduce unnecessary risk. There might also be restrictions on lockers and water fountains, so best to carry only what you need – and don’t forget your water bottle.

Clean everything

Most gyms will provide cleaning wipes and sprays, and everyone’s going to need to get into the habit of using them. Clean everything you touch (and breathe on) before and after use.

Keep to yourself

We’ve all been quite isolated for a long time now, so it’s tempting to get straight back into a conversation with people you know at the gym. It’s lovely to see people, but remember that social distancing is still incredibly important, and gym equipment is spaced out carefully for a reason.

Stay hygienic

Good personal hygiene is key to combat infection. Wash your hands and use sanitiser at every opportunity. Make sure tissues go straight in the bin, and again, if you’re at all unwell, just don’t go.

Go easy on yourself

With little access to regular gym equipment, it’s normal for your fitness levels to have dipped a little – or a lot. Listen to your body and start out slowly. Get advice from staff or trainers at your gym, or if you have any serious concerns about your health and whether you should exercise, see a GP.

Stay safe… and have fun

Things are looking hopeful, with vaccines and robust plans for easing lockdown. Staff at gyms and leisure centres around the country are working to follow advice and keep everything clean and safe so we can get back to the gyms. Staying fit is important, and getting back to the gym is a great idea for some people. But if it’s not for you, or the thought of a gym environment feels stressful at the minute, don’t worry. There are plenty of ways to stay fit in a way that feels right for you.

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