Returning To The Gym During COVID-19

Like a lot of people, once the gyms were closed that was it for me, bye bye exercise. I went for occasional walks and bike rides but didn’t do any hardcore exercise for a few months. Gyms opened on Monday 10th August, and as soon as 6pm rolled around and my laptop was shut, work was done and it was time to hit the gym!

Health and safety

I didn’t necessarily have any health and safety concerns as my feeling was: you don’t know until you try – or see, or do in this case, and I would navigate it from there. In the gym in general, they have prepped well for encouraging sanitising and cleanliness. I go to quite a pricey hotel gym and I would expect nothing less than what they have done so far:

  • Arrow markers on the floor clearly indicating a one way system

  • Perspex screens in between machines OR every other machine blocked off

  • Automatic sensor hand sanitising machines next to every door in the building, including gym, studios and changing rooms.

  • Cleaning products dotted around the gym floor such as various anti-bac sprays and single use paper towels. This is accompanied by signs asking people to wipe down equipment before and after use.

  • Signs and TV pop-up reminders to clean machines with the tools provided.

  • Every class and it’s equipment is cleaned by staff using large antibacterial spray before and after use.

Gym and swim classes are all very limited spaces. The pool works in half hour time slots with around 8-10 people allowed at one time. Gym classes vary, from 18 in a spin class, to 10 or 20 in a weights class depending on the studio size. Pool slots are half an hour long with only 7 people allowed in the area.

Observations

I’ve noticed that most gym-goers do wipe down the machines after use, but not all. This has made me extra cautious with ensuring I deep clean before and after I use the equipment. Social distancing should certainly still be adopted, especially indoors at locations like the gym, but this isn’t something I’ve have seen happen at my gym very often. Some of the trainers in classes remind everyone to keep their distance and ‘spread out’, but now that face masks are mandatory (when not exercising) it does bring that extra sense of security and safety.

Classes

Classes are currently very limited spaces, but the introduction of the new app for my gym means it is finally easy to book whenever you want. The downside with limited numbers is that of course you have to be quick to book your space – they have set a rule in place that you can only book one week before, but the booking opens at midnight. I’ve found myself staying up some nights just to make sure I get onto my chosen class to make the most of my membership! Ideally I think if the gym cannot offer ‘normal’ services or you can’t use your membership to its full extent, then members should be compensated some way, and my gym seem to be doing this by sending its members monthly vouchers for the restaurant.

Before lockdown I wasn’t taking advantage of the classes, and on returning to the gym I decided I wanted to try as many as possible. So far, I’ve been keeping up with spin, body pump, Swiss balls and using the actual gym. Even at 27, the thought of attending a gym class on my own somehow felt scary but after attending 2-3 classes I felt comfortable and confident in myself.

I haven’t returned to swimming yet, it doesn’t appeal to me at the moment. From spending time in the changing rooms and shower cubicles, to being in a warm pool – I’ll sit that one out for a little longer.

Monday motivation

Today is Monday, so I’ll be attending my weekly Spin class. Spin always sounded very scary to me, but after attending you realise that it’s fun, you control the resistance and speed of your bike the whole time and you’re in charge of pushing yourself!

So far I’ve been calorie counting (using My Fitness Pal) and hitting the gym 6 times a week and I’ve lost just over one stone. I’m so happy with this progress and I’ve re-ignited my love for the gym once more.

Should you go back to the gym?

I’ve heard a few people talking to staff on my way in and out requesting to pause their membership until a later date. By pausing your membership you’re not being charged, but people are opting to do this until they feel it’s safe to return. I understand that some people may be hesitant about attending a gym, full of sweaty people, and possible heavily breathing, but in my experience it’s going pretty well.

Here are my top tips for returning to the gym during Covid-19:

  • Wipe down your equipment before and after use
  • Use hand sanitiser (take your own even), before and after touching doors, handles etc
  • Keep your distance
  • Always keep a face mask in your car or gym bag so you don’t forget to wear it
  • Take as few belongings as possible
  • Avoid using locker rooms if you don’t need to
  • Fill up your water bottle before setting off – gym fountains are currently deactivated
  • Try something new and find a new passion for fitness in this strange time!

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