GYMS and fitness studios have opened their doors this morning after being closed for four months due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Experts have previously said that gyms – as well as pubs and bars – are all high risk places for Covid to spread.
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But on July 9, the government announced that gyms, pools and leisure centres could all reopen from July 25.
While many people may still feel uncomfortable hitting the gym, there will be some who are eager to get their sweat on.
But for those keen to burn the calories and hit the treadmill, remember your usual workout will be much different.
Firstly, it's likely that you will have had to book a slot as gyms work hard to make sure they observe social distancing measures.
While on arrival you may have to wait for someone to come and take your temperature before you enter.
There are also a number of ways to keep yourself – and others – safe.
Here, we take you through some steps you can take…
1. Change at home
Changing and showering at home will reduce the time you’re in the gym, it will also reduce any chances of cross-contamination.
Be sure to jump in the shower as soon as you get home and pop your workout clothing straight in the washing.
2. Get familiar with the layout
It will have been a while since you were at the gym and a lot will have changed.
The experts at BioFreeze add: "Be sure to have a look around as soon as you arrive to get to know where everything now is to prevent wandering around aimlessly.
"Also, be sure to locate all cleaning products upon entering the gym so you know where to go, what’s available and what to use. If you’re not sure, the staff within the gym will be more than happy to help."
3. Pay attention
Listening to your breathing will be key as you start going to the gym again.
"Everyone sweats and pants within the gym, that’s a given – but now is the best time to learn to get your breathing under control.
"Not only will it help to reduce contamination within the air, it will also allow you to have a more targeted and controlled workout. In through your nose, out through your mouth.
"Make deep, small breaths so that you don’t open your mouth wide when breathing out and aim your face downwards, where safe to do so, instead of out into the rest of the gym."
4. Book into a class
Classes aren’t for everyone – many prefer weight sessions or working out alone within the gym – but classes are going to be one of the safest spots within gyms when they reopen.
In its guidelines, the government states that gyms need to limit the number of people using facilities at one time.
So class sizes will be reduced to allow for adequate workout space and they will also have their own equipment.
It means that when the gym is busy, you know that you’ll not only get a good workout but also be using the relevant equipment to aid you.
5. Keep your distance
It’s not uncommon to have people standing nearby while you’re working out in the gym, by way of saying they’re next in line for the equipment that you’re working on.
This isn’t going to be possible for the foreseeable future, with social distancing guidelines recommending a distance of between 1 to 2 metres.
Instead of lingering, waiting for a machine or piece of equipment to become free, look around and see what else might be free that you can work with.
6. Keep your towel to yourself
Everyone is sweating and panting in the gym, and many carry their own towels – both to wipe themselves down and to wipe equipment down with.
Your towel should only be used on your person.
Be sure to use separate items to clean down any equipment and machinery after use such as anti-bac wipes or towel.
And, of course, be sure to dispose of them after each and every use.
7. Clean up
Gyms have been urged to provide adequate hand sanitising stations and have also been asked to employ one way systems so people can navigate around the gym with ease.
The guidance adds: "Customers and staff should be encouraged to shower and change at home wherever possible, although changing rooms will be available."
Each fitness centre will have slightly different measures in place, so do check what your local gym has planned.
While workers will be cleaning equipment throughout the day, some gyms will be asking its members to also sanitise gear after using it.
Energie Gym is one centre that has set out clear markings around equipment.
Green and white tape marks where people can stand and green dots also represent where you are able to work out.
PureGym is also one of the fitness chains that has asked its members to do just that.
It has now released guidance about how to clean cardio machines and weights after using them.
How do I clean free weights?
- Clean the equipment before and after using – hopefully whoever used it before you will have done the same, but it’s still important all gym-goers clean the kit before use as a precaution.
- Don’t use a gym or sweat towel to wipe down your free weights. In fact, PureGym are requesting you don’t bring a sweat towel to the gym at all to limit the spread of germs brought in from outside the gym.
- Similarly to when cleaning cardio machines – never spray disinfectant straight onto the equipment. Instead, spray twice onto a folded paper towel and use this to wipe over the entire surface area of the equipment
- Be thorough and make sure to wipe all different parts of the equipment, not just the area you’ve been holding. If the weighted ends are fixed, make sure these have been carefully cleaned all over, including any ridges or indents.
- If you’re using a barbell with weighted plates, clean not just the bar, but also any weighted plates you have used or will be using. It’s crucial that you wipe over the entirety of the bar and pay particular attention to the textured area where your hands will be gripping on.
- If the paper towel or wipe you’re using begins to dry out while you’re cleaning a piece of kit, get another, or spray more disinfectant on the paper to finish up.
- Leave 20 – 30 seconds after wiping the weights equipment before using it, to allow the disinfectant time to work and dry.
- Always dispose of used wipes and paper towels in a bin
It includes focus on cleaning the main touch points, such as handles, seats and buttons you press for the machines.
You'll also be asked to wait until the equipment is fully dry before using it.
PureGym added it will be changing the layout of their gyms and equipment to allow for social distancing.
There will be a deep clean each night.
Some of its gyms will also be capped, meaning there will be a limit on the number of members in the gym at any one time.
As part of measures to protect people, other chains have installed sneeze screens around gym equipment.
While many people return to the gym today, experts have warned that it's important not to over exert yourself after having time away.
Ross Mitchell, personal training tutor at Future Fit Training said it's not just Covid precautions that you need to consider.
"A lot will want to go full bore the second they step foot inside, this is unwise. It’s going to be easy to do too much, and the price will be injury."
In order to avoid injury he said you should start with small sets and apply mobility to cardio sessions.
He added: "Don’t be in a rush to ‘get back’ the fitness you may have lost, it will return with time/consistency.
"Try and leave the gym feeling stronger than you entered it, build on this each session little by little".
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