As our gyms begin to open their doors once again, you might be chomping at the bit to start your interval training on the treadmill, head to a boxercise class, or to lift some weights in an effort to tone up.
However, gyms, like all other commercial places, have to adhere to new, strict Covid-19 guidance. The virus has not simply disappeared, it has merely retreated and the R infection rating has decreased enough to make some sort of normality possible once more.
If you are a gym bunny and you have been waiting to scratch your fitness itch, you will be over the moon that you can utilise your gym subscription again. However, it’s crucial that you do a bit of research prior to heading to your spin class.
Gyms will be very different places, so make sure you pay attention to those emails that you are receiving from the manager of your gym. There will be plenty of new things to get used to. And, you still need to consider the health and safety of others as well as yourself.
Follow this guide to help you remain Covid secure at the gym.
To towel, or not to towel
In some places, you must take a towel to the gym. In fact, many gyms are refusing to let in anyone who can’t show their towel on entry. The usual rules apply, but they are more crucial than ever. It doesn’t matter whether someone has already wiped down the treadmill before you are venturing on it to start your rolling hills program; you need to wipe it down yourself.
Other gyms are not allowing you take your own towel. Instead, you must use the disposable paper towel that they provide both to wipe yourself down after a strenuous cardio session and to spray and wipe the equipment.
This is why it’s so important to check the info at your own gym. The gyms are guided by the research and guidelines, but they are implementing their own safety measures based on resources and their own interpretation of the guidelines.
You don’t need a face covering when working out
In a gym, it’s not safe or practical to wear a face covering, especially when you are embarking on a cardio workout. Your respiratory rate increases and you will need to breathe unhindered.
This means it’s crucial that you can make sure every piece of equipment that you use is free from contaminants. All gyms will have sanitiser gel and sprays containing alcohol that kill viruses so you can use use this, as well as your towel or the provided paper towels to clean surfaces.
Capacity may be lowered
Gyms are putting their own Covid secure measures in place by positioning equipment further apart and decreasing the amount of equipment they have. They may not start group classes for a while and you may see screens separating treadmills, rowers and cross trainers. Classes, at the moment, will be no larger than six people and that includes the instructor, so spaces will be limited to five gym goers for now.
For most gyms this will mean booking is essential and spaces will be very limited. Ensure that you book your slots in advance. This may take some getting used to, but this is the new normal that we face.
Forget about using a shared water fountain – they will be out of bounds for the foreseeable future. Water fountains will only be used to refill bottles and not to spread germs!
Ensure you have plenty of water in your backpack. Take your own and don’t share anything with anyone. Even if you have a socially distanced outing to the gym with a pal, don’t go sharing water bottles, no matter how well your friend may appear.
You must treat Covid like you have it. This way, you won’t become infected, and you won’t infect others. Many people with coronavirus are asymptomatic, so they don’t feel unwell or exhibit any symptoms.
If you feel unwell at all (even if the symptoms aren’t coronavirus related) stay at home. A sniffle may not have put you off from going to the gym before, but now you need to be extra careful.
Ensure that you keep yourself as healthy as possible. Focus on your pre-workout nutrition and cut out the sugary snacks and fatty meals. Instead, eat some grains and pulses, go for green leafy vegetables and healthy snack alternatives. If you are embarking on some tougher workouts that will see the exercise intensity increase, do some carb loading with whole grains, pasta and rice.
Opt for a plant based diet with a range of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. You want to stay in peak health and what you eat will have a massive impact on how well you feel.
The old adage of eating the rainbow is something that you should stick to. Have a diet rich in colourful vegetables such as sweetcorn, red peppers, courgette, spinach, beetroot and tomatoes. Eating a real mix will ensure that you hit more antioxidants than you otherwise would.
This is vital to help ward off colds, boost your immunity, and keep your mood positive. Food can act as a way of fuelling the body. Eat the right food and you can work harder for longer.
Follow the rules
Machines will be spread out, or some may be switched off. One way systems may be in place. Showers may be closed. Booking may be essential. Make sure you find out all the new rules for your gym and follow them to keep yourself and others safe. Hopefully it’s only temporary, but the truth is no one knows what will happen next or how long this ‘new normal’ will last.
Not ready to return?
If you’re not ready to return to the gym due to financial worry, a temporary change in lifestyle or you simply don’t feel it’s safe to do so, then talk to your gym manager. Most gyms will be understanding and able to freeze your membership or provide other options until you are ready to return. They are a gym after all and your health and wellbeing should be their first priority. If you want to start training outdoors first then see if your gym can help you find a personal trainer near you so you can continue to meet your fitness goals in an environment that suits you.
If you are keen to head back to the gym, do so in a safe way. Follow this guide and remain Covid secure when you head to complete your workouts.
What to read next
How to stay healthy during lockdown
Healthy snack ideas during lockdown
Must-read tips for boosting concentration, energy and immunity in self-isolation
How to stay healthy during the coronavirus (+ 6 vegan store cupboard recipes!)
How to keep in touch with family and friends when you can’t see them