5 Ways to Safely Return to the Gym
Have you taken a break from the gym due to pandemic or other life changes? Are you thinking of heading back soon? Staying fit is more complicated than it used to be, but it’s still worth the effort if you can exercise safely. In fact, it’s probably more important now than ever to stay healthy and keep yourself out of those high risk groups.
But even as we write this in November 2020, Covid-19 cases are spiking again, which could put plans to return to the gym in question. Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, is again reiterating five things we can do to help curb the outbreak:
- Universal mask wearing
- Maintain physical distance
- Avoid crowded spaces
- Do more outdoors rather than indoors
- Wash hands frequently
Does all that sound compatible with the gym you know and love? Let’s run through them one at a time.
Exercise Safely at the Gym with These Simple Steps
Wear a Mask. Yes, it sucks to wear a mask. It especially sucks to wear one when you’re working out. But you do it for the people around you, and you expect them to do it for you. This is at the top of the list for a reason, as it’s the most important step you can take to limit the spread of an airborne disease. So if you’re looking to return to the gym, make sure you find a gym that not only requires masks, but is not lax about enforcing the policy. On the bright side, more and more masks are being designed specifically for exercise. Pick up a few of these to sweat in, then when your workout is over you can switch back to your fashionable, dry N-95.
Maintain Physical Distance. If you’re going to exercise safely, you not only need everyone to be wearing masks, but you need everyone to maintain their distance. Six feet is the standard recommendation, but consider increasing that distance in a room where everyone is actively panting and flinging sweat. How far apart are the machines in your gym? Are class sizes limited to give everyone enough room to spread out?
Avoid Crowded Spaces. Related to the previous suggestion, you’ll want a gym that limits capacity so that people have room to move around without crowding. Maybe it’s a small gym that only allows a few people in at a time. A large gym could allow more, as long as they have the space to let people spread out. You might want to look up, too. Do you have low ceilings and a stifling, muggy atmosphere? Is there a filtered air conditioning system?
Do More Outdoors. Winter is coming, which is a bummer for outdoor exercise. But if your gym does provide outdoor spaces, take advantage. Rooftop yoga or a HIIT class in a nearby park or beach is a great way to get your fitness in while staying out.
Wash Those Hands. This is another easy one. Be safe and be courteous. Wash your hands, use hand sanitizer, make sure machines and equipment are sterilized before and after you use them.
If you have to return to the gym, these are the best practices to follow. Be sure to shop around and find a gym that makes it as easy as possible so you and your fellow gym members can exercise safely together.
And Finally, a Bonus Tip
Are you sure you’re ready to head back to the gym? Remember those spiking COVID numbers? And the start of flu season?
Fortunately there are alternatives. You can exercise safely in the comfort of your own home with easy (or hard!) virtual workouts. It’s also easy to set up your very own home gym even if you have limited space. No crowds, no physical distancing, and no mask required! You don’t even have to wear clothes if you don’t want to. But you should probably still wash your hands.