Is it safe to go back to the Gym in Covid days?
Is it safe to go back to the gyms now? And if I do go, what should I do to keep myself safe? Or how to stay safe in the gym? A short answer to that question, whether it is safe to go back to the gyms, is no. A longer answer would be still no. But there are ways we can make it safer, not absolutely safe, but relatively safer.
Why did I say gyms are not safe?
Now, why do I say it’s not safe? Because previously, we thought corona transmission would happen only through droplet spread. That meant that if we have proper distancing between people and if we clean the instruments regularly, people would be safe. But now there’s very tangible evidence that aerosol transmission or air transmission might be playing a big role.
What that means is when people are huffing and puffing in the gym, and even if you are two meters away from the other person, but if the ventilation is not good, the virus can still get you. And also the fact that we tend to inhale and exhale more deeply
When we are working out, means that you’re going to take a big viral load in and also give out a big viral loadout if you’re infected. That being said, if you really have to go to a gym, there are ways to make it safer. Point number one, go during off-hours.
Here I have listed six precautions about using the gym. These points show how is it safe to go back to the gym.
Point number 1
Now, I know this is very obvious, but this is important. So I had to say it first. Go during off-hours. Early mornings, afternoons, late evenings, when there are not many people in the gym, and the fact that most of us are working from home right now means that we have a bit more flexibility in our schedules.
Point number 2
Make sure your gym is doing enough to keep you safe. Your gym can do a lot of things. They can start with temperature screening. This would not completely exclude everyone who is sick, but something is better than nothing.
They can also keep the windows open if the weather permits and have proper cross ventilation. What I mean by cross ventilation is that if there’s a way for air to come in from one side, like say, a window or a door, there should be away for the air to go out as well. Ideally, on the opposite side, this lets air flow freely and that reduces virus concentration significantly. Just having one window open in otherwise completely closed room is not effective.
They can also install exhaust fans that push the inside air out. If for some reason the windows can’t be opened and the gym is air-conditioned, re-circulation of air must be avoided.
The vent should be open to allow outside air in through the AC. Also, all air conditioners should have HEPA filters installed in them. This will filter out most aerosols.
If you’re in a fancy gym and it has one of those exercise pods, make sure it is properly sanitized before you use it and make sure there’s proper ventilation. Otherwise, you’ll pass out while working out.
Point number 3
Number three is it safe to go back to the gym, wipe the machines and weights before and after you use them. Even if it looks like nobody has touched it in a long time, wipe all weights and machines before you use it with a disinfectant. You can ask your gym attendant to do this for you or you can do this yourself.
Also, avoid using resistance bands and weightlifting belts that others would have used as these are difficult to sanitize.
Point number 4
Take your own supplies. Take your own water bottle, take your own mat. Also, take two towels, one to wipe your face and body and another to wipe the machines and weights before you use it and after you’re done using them.
Point number 5
Safely wearing a mask. Wear masks as much as it’s safely possible. What I mean by that is that you should be wearing a mask whenever you are in the gym lobby, the changing room or in the restroom, but you should not be wearing a mask when you’re exercising. And this includes the lifting of all kinds, big weights, small weights, all kinds of aerobic exercises.
If you’re doing very mild exercises like yoga and some stretches, you can probably wear a mask, but otherwise, please avoid wearing a mask. And even when you are recovering between sets, you don’t need to wear a mask. Mask and exertion is not a great combination and that might cause more damage than COVID could ever do. But request the gym attenders and the trainers to wear a mask because they’re always talking and shouting. Those wearing a mask would keep you safe. this one is important to point on is safe to go back to the gym.
Point number 6
Sign up for outdoor classes. Check out gyms that are offering outdoor classes. Many gyms are doing this, just Google it. You’ll find a lot near you. This is a great way to stay safe. Also, get a good workout. And as a bonus, get a good dose of vitamin D. So that was about gyms, but my personal suggestion would be to work out at home or in an outdoor space with good quality resistance bands.
Now, I was not a fan of these before I started using them. I like lifting real weights, but man, they do work. They give you an amazing workout and the best thing is they are very cheap. And you’ll find alternatives to almost all the exercises that you do with weights. I’ll link a few of James workouts down below. I’m not associated with him, but his workouts help me a lot and I think it’ll help you too.
I’ve also bought a few weights, adjustable dumbbells with around 15 kg of plates and a bar here with a few more plates. You can get these, they’re not very expensive. I’ll link this in the description if you’re interested. But really, two or three really good quality resistance bands is all you will ever need.
But please consider helping out your local gyms in these hard times. These gyms need a lot of money to run. The owners would have borrowed a lot of money to start these gyms and run these gyms. Do whatever you can to keep the gym a safe place for others. And you can also volunteer to help. You can do the thermal screening; you can clean the weights and the machines.
It would be possible to safely go back to the gym by following the above precautions.