Ever since the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic forced even the most dedicated gym-dwellers to stay indoors, the first question on everyone's mind has been how they can get a gym-quality workout at home. The good news is that there are plenty of good resources to help the fitness-conscious do that, no matter how advanced their normal workout is. At the same time, however, there's been another big question still waiting to be answered.
When, and how, will it be safe to go back to the gym when the restrictions ease up?
The problem is, there's no way anyone can give a concrete answer to that question. There are simply too many variables at play. That's because every gym will handle reopening differently, and every individual has their own specific health situations to worry about. To stay safe and healthy, though, here are some expert recommendations most people should follow when they return to their gym (even if they go beyond what their local government requires).
Group Fitness Class Safety
If your normal workout involves group fitness classes like spinning, kickboxing, or step aerobics, you may want to plan to replace some of those activities with some other form of workout. If you do choose group classes, be sure to practice social distancing. The reason is that such group activities, even when allowed by local health authorities, are probably the riskiest thing you can do in a gym. The combination of a closed room, heavy-breathing participants, and close quarters are a recipe for disaster.
Avoid Close Contact Personal Training
The same is true of visiting your personal trainer, almost all of which require some close contact in one way or another. If possible, try to work with your trainer to devise a contact-free and social-distanced session. Or, take this as an opportunity to take some personal training courses so you can do the job yourself. It's a great way to turn an inconvenience into an opportunity and can pay off for years to come.
Don't Make Assumptions on Cleanliness
Even though it's a safe bet that most gyms will step up their cleaning routines in the wake of the pandemic, you shouldn't count on them to keep you safe. Instead, make preparations to sanitize the equipment you plan to use at the gym both before and after you use it. If your gym provides disinfecting wipes for you to use on the equipment, take advantage of that. If not, work with your gym to find out what kinds of disinfectants you can use and bring them yourself.
On top of that, you should make an effort to minimize your surface contact while you're at the gym. If possible, wear disposable gloves while you work out, and a mask to cut down on the airborne particles you inhale. Also, if it's your custom to change or shower at the gym, it's a good idea to skip that for the time being in favor of showing up prepared and cleaning up at home.
Modify Your Schedule
Last but not least, you should plan to change your schedule to make sure you visit your gym when it's least likely to be crowded. This is especially important if the gym you use isn't planning to restrict the number of people allowed inside at once when they reopen. If you can, planning your workouts late at night or early in the morning is the best option if you're unavailable during working hours. If you don't have a typical nine-to-five work schedule, even better. Most gyms aren't crowded during the day on weekdays, so it's the perfect time to go.
The best thing to do, however, is to contact your gym and ask them when they tend to have the least visitors. They're in the best position to know, and it's in their interest to tell you the truth if you inform them you may not come in otherwise. And, as much as you might not want to do it, if your gym doesn't seem to have any reliable quiet times you should consider switching to one that's not as busy.
Fitness Includes Good Health
By keeping these recommendations in mind, it should be possible for most people to safely return to their gyms when they reopen. It's important to remember though, that your overall good health is more important than your fitness goals. You should never take the chance of getting sick if you feel that your gym isn't doing enough to keep you safe. So as gyms reopen, take it slow and don't rush right back in. Take the time to see how your gym is adapting to the situation and plan your return accordingly. Then you can get back to doing your best to stay both fit and healthy – and that's the best goal anyone can have!