Most of us have spent the last few months working out at home, learning new yoga asanas or burning calories by running or cycling outdoors. Many gym goers have been itching to return to the gym where they can get back to doing some serious strength training. However, as gyms and fitness are finally opening their doors again, there is one question most gym lovers have in mind: Is it safe to go to the gym during the Coronavirus pandemic? “There is something about the second wave of the pandemic that has us all second guessing our decision of hitting the gym again. Although the gym is something many might desperately need, one cannot quite fathom it because of the risk of virus transmission. There is certainly a lot of anxiety,” says fitness expert Meenakshi Mohanty.
We talk to industry experts to find out what one must consider to keep themselves and others safe as they decide to return to exercising in the gym
Are gyms a breeding ground for Covid?
When the pandemic started reaching its peak, gyms and fitness centres were one of the first few places to shut down. “Fitness facilities are a breeding ground for diseases, especially communicable diseases like COVID-19. Please are apprehensive of returning to the gyms because they are wary of sanitisation and safety protocol being followed by gymnasiums. Working out in covered public space involves sweating, heavy breathing, close proximity to other gym goers as well as trainers and extensive touching of surfaces, all of which are complete no-no’s during COVID,” says Rhea Singh Anand, co-founder of a fitness equipment brand. Fitness coach Hasti Singh feels that though the number of Covid cases are decreasing rapidly, the danger is always lurking. “Though several places are slowly lifting lockdowns, the fear of the third Covid wave is looming over us. Moreover, people have experienced the worst during the second wave and now want to be safe than sorry,” says fitness coach Hasti Singh.
Ways to stay safe while breaking a sweat in the gym
Gyms, unlike other public spaces, see a heavy footfall in a rather compact area. Multiple people share the same set of dumbbells, barbells and the other equipment. Hence, one must be very cautious if planning to return to the gym. “If you are one among those who have already hired the services of a personal trainer or booked session with a fitness instructor, make sure that you are fully vaccinated before you enter a public space. Also, there is no harm getting a Covid report done in order to stay safe as well as keep other safe. Lastly, make sure your fitness facility is following proper disinfection protocols, conducting temperature checks, and managing social distancing in the gym. Lastly, try to wear a mask, avoid touching your face time and again and wash your hands before and after you have done your training. Remember, a little alertness can go a long way in keep you healthy,” says Singh.
FOR GYM GOERS CAN DO
- Check for any symptoms you might have. If any, avoid the gym
- If exposed to a COVID positive and you are asymptomatic, avoid hitting the gym for a couple of days
- If you have recently recovered, check if you would be able to push your body at the moment
- Wear gloves smartly, remove them even more smartly
- Carry two separate towels – a sweat towel and a clean towel for use on shared gym equipment
- Avoid using steam and showers at gyms for some time. Use washrooms carefully
WHAT GYMS CAN DO
- Ensure members are vaccinated and allow them only if they are
- Temperature check and sanitisation at the main entry for all members
- Keeping masks and gloves handy to provide to people not sticking to safety norms or to those who may forget
- Placing sanitisers around most corners
- Sanitisation on roll for every piece of equipment after being used
- Keeping premises and restrooms clean and sanitised at all times
- Allowing a limited number of people in the training zone at one time in order to avoid crowds and maintain social distancing etiquette. Alternatively, let people book workout slots in advance.
Inputs by Asheesh Grewal, founder of an online health and fitness coaching platform and fitness expert Meenakshi Mohanty
Working out at home
- Saves on travel time 1. Access to equipment
- Save on gym membership and travel cost
- You can exercise in the comfort and safety of your home
- You can workout at your convenience; no need to worry about gym timings
- No need to wear a mask
- Need to invest in good equipment
- Possibility of distractions and laziness
Working out in the gym
- In-person training
- Likely to stay more motivated due to exercising around like-minded people
- A wide range of professional equipment available
- Close contact with people who might be infected
- Sharing equipment with people who might be infected
- Having to make appointments as capacities are now limited
- Have to wear a mask
- Time and money spent on memberships and travelling to and from gyms