Have you rejoined the gym world during the COVID-19 pandemic? Whether you're a beginner looking to get buff or an avid fitness enthusiast trying to shed some quarantine pounds, it's imperative that you stay safe — especially as we enter flu season. Wearing face masks or other forms of coronavirus protection is really just the start. Here are other tips you should practice.
Is It Actually Safe to Return to the Gym?
The coronavirus is primarily transmitted when someone comes in close contact with an infected person who is coughing, sneezing, talking, or breathing heavily. As you can imagine, that last one makes gyms especially risky; it's typically difficult to maintain social distance and cleanliness in a confined fitness facility.
It's also important to consider the sweat factor. There's currently no substantial research that supports the idea that COVID-19 can spread through sweat. But respiratory particles can and do get mixed in with sweat.
With that said, the safest place to work out is without a doubt in your home or outside. Obviously, the choice is a personal one. And we can't really blame you if you're tired of exercising in your living room.
Here's What to Consider About Going Back to the Gym
If you're comfortable with going back to the gym or you're still debating about it, here are a few things to keep in mind:
Learn Your Gym's Safety Protocols
Some fitness facilities are conducting mandatory temperature checks when patrons come in. Others are mandating when and how many people can work out. And quite a few have completely closed amenities such as restrooms, locker rooms, showers, saunas, and other common spaces. While that last part may sound inconvenient, it's actually great — you want to avoid these high-traffic (and therefore, high-risk) areas anyways.
Inquire about your gym's COVID-19 precautions and rules. Always follow them. And allow yourself some extra time to check in and ensure you're practicing safety guidelines appropriately.
Wear Face Mask Protection
Is your gym enforcing a face mask protection policy? Wear one, even if they're not. Face coverings not only help to protect yourself, but they also protect those around you in case you're an asymptomatic carrier of the coronavirus.
We know that wearing face mask protection is challenging while exercising. But just think of them as an extra perk that will elevate your cardio levels! Also, consider trying out neck gaiters — you may find that they're easier to break a sweat in.
Bring Your Own Water Bottle and Towel
This one sounds pretty straightforward, right? A lot of states have mandated that cities and businesses shut off public water fountains. So don't forget to bring your water for your workout. And bring enough to last the entire session.
Also, bring your own towel. And be mindful of where you place it while working out, especially if you're using it to wipe your face.
Practice good hygiene before entering the gym and when you leave. Also, avoid touching your face during your workout. Make sure to wash your hands before removing your face mask protection, and frequently wash that as well.
Like other businesses, the majority of gyms and health clubs are required to space out their machines, equipment, and patrons. Always pay attention to how close you are to other gym-goers, and stay cognizant of your surroundings. Maintaining a minimum of six feet between you and other people is the way to go.
Wipe Down Everything You Touch
Numerous gyms have introduced more sanitation stations throughout their facilities in response to COVID-19. So don't hesitate to clean and wipe down everything you touch, both before and after you use it. Whether it's a barbell, treadmill, or resistance bands, give it a good cleaning. This even applies to a piece of equipment that you just saw someone else clean. Remember, it's always better to be safe than sorry.
Keep Your Plans Flexible
Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, it was normal to wander around the gym or wait for a piece of equipment to become free. These days, your objective should always be to minimize your time in the gym. This helps tremendously with reducing your exposure. So get in, get your workout over with, and get out.
It's okay to come into your gym with a workout plan and idea of what equipment you'll be using. But if the area you wanted to use is too crowded, try your best to be flexible. For example, if the free weight area has a ton of people, consider the machines.
Be Careful With Group Fitness Classes
If you love fitness classes, inquire with your gym about what protocols they're taking for class sized and equipment cleanliness. Make sure everyone's abiding by the tips in this post.
In all honesty, group fitness classes are not really recommended during this time. But if you choose to participate in one, do yourself a favor and make sure you have six feet of distance from other people. Gyms that have fresh air ventilation (e.g., open windows or garage doors) are the way to go with fitness classes.
Are You Showing Symptoms? Stay Home!
Do you currently have a fever, shortness of breath, coughing, or any other symptoms related to the coronavirus or flu? Then stay home!
Listen to Your Feelings
If you feel uncomfortable or unsafe, don't be afraid to speak up about it or move to another area of your fitness facility. If your gym's staff doesn't listen or aren't following protocols, then feel free to switch to another gym. Lastly, it's always okay to decide that the gym isn't the best option for you at this moment.
Safety Is the Priority
We hope this post has helped you figure out what's best for your fitness routine and health. If you have a chronic medical condition or are considered high-risk at this moment, then it's best to avoid going to the gym or speaking with your healthcare provider first.
Even if you have no health condition but just feel unsafe going to the gym, don't fret — you're certainly not alone. It's perfectly normal to have some consternation about cramming yourself in a room full of people sweating and breathing heavily these days.
Many of us on the Gaiter King team are still working out in our living rooms or taking jogs in the neighborhood. Whether you're doing the same or are opting for a walk around the block, any sort of exercise is good for your physical and mental health. And it doesn't need to be done at the gym. Stay safe out there.
Want durable face masks and neck gaiters for exercising? Check out our shop!