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Returning to the gym post COVID19

Prior to lockdown, physical activity was at an all-time high in England, accroding to Sport England. Whilst all UK fitness and leisure centres were forced to close their doors, it was understood the majority (62%) of the population still believed in the benefits of physical exercise.

In fact, gym workouts topped a poll of activities that the British public (14%) is most looking forward to post-lockdown.1

So, with the re-opening of leisure venues in late July, all leisure facilities have been working their socks off to create a safe environment for their customers to return. Whilst some gym-goers are eager to return as soon as possible, leisure venues understand that the majority of their customers will only return once they have proven that their venue is safe to visit. It is therefore critical to recognise the myths regarding exercise and Covid-19, to understand how leisure venues have adapted to keep you safe and recognise what you can do to help.

Your gym post COVID-19 FAQ's answered

  1. How long will COVID-19 stay on gym equipment for?
  2. While the Covid-19 virus can stay on some surfaces for up to two or three days, it’s important to remember that these surfaces are easily cleaned with common household disinfectants (which kill the virus). All venues have drastically stepped up their cleaning protocols ready for your arrival

  3. Can COVID-19 be spread through sweat?
  4. There is no evidence that COVID-19 can be transmitted through sweat.

  5. Can Covid-19 be transmitted in areas that are hot and humid?
  6. There is no evidence that Covid-19 is any more transmittable in a hot, humid environment than any other. The best way to protect yourself against Covid-19 is by maintaining social distancing and frequent hand washing, and the use of anti-viral/bacterial hand gels.

  7. Do shared water fountains pose an increased risk of Covid-19?
  8. As long as all touch points are cleaned pre and post use, water fountains are safe.

  9. Should I wear a masks or gloves in the gym?
  10. People should NOT wear masks whilst exercising, as masks may reduce the ability to breathe comfortably. Sweating can make a mask become wet, which makes it difficult to breathe and promotes the growth of microorganisms. The most important preventive measure during exercise is to maintain physical distance from others.

    While gloves are useful in some circumstances, in a leisure facility using hand sanitiser and wiping down equipment before and after use is more appropriate.

  11. Can COVID-19 be transmitted in the water of a swimming pool?
  12. There is no evidence that COVID-19 can be spread to humans through water, hot tubs or spas.

  13. Does air conditioning raise the risk of transmitting Covid-19?
  14. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) have advised that the risk of air conditioning spreading coronavirus is extremely low.

What you can expect when you return to the gym

Your leisure venue will likely look and feel a little different on your first visit.

  • The numbers of users inside your gym at any one time will be limited. Many venues will now require you to have a pre-booked appointment to attend, even for a gym visit.
  • Depending on your venue’s set up there could be security guards in place at reception desks etc.
  • There may be a queue management system in place on entry to allow for social distancing.
  • All venues have massively increased their cleaning protocols, and many have purchased additional cleaning equipment’s such as fogging guns etc.
  • Class times will be staggered on the timetable, allowing a 10+ minute spacing in-between classes. This time allows for appropriate cleaning to occur.
  • As with everywhere, there has been a huge emphasis on social distancing. Venues will have implemented one-way systems to manage user flow around their buildings.
  • There will be numerous sanitising spray and wipe stations around your venue allowing you to wipe down equipment both pre and post use.

What you can do to help

Whether you are a gym-bunny, class goer or if you visit a personal trainer, your help and support is now needed more than ever.

  • If you can, leave your gym bag at home.
  • Try and arrive in your sports kit so you don't need to change
  • Remember to wipe down equipment both before and after use.
  • Prior to your first visit, check with your venue regarding access. Are you required to make a booking? This will avoid and potential disappointment
  • Lastly, be patient and adhere to the facility rules. They are in place to keep you safe!

As a Register of Exercise Professionals-accredited training provider, Nicola consults for leading health and fitness brands and regularly contributes to press publications.

Find out more about Nicola Addison.