Many people who have been abiding by province wide “stay-at-home” orders during the COVID-19 pandemic have had to forgo their typical workout routine. Many have tried the virtual workouts many studios have offered on Instagram or other platforms. If you haven’t had access to a home gym however, you’ve probably been missing the gym and are itching to get back to your gym community.

With the province opening back up with Stage-2 last week, gyms and fitness centers have been moved up in the re-opening plans and many are now scrambling to get ready to welcome back their members.

Before you go, you have to ask yourself, is it worth the risk? While gyms are reworking their floor plans to increase the distance between machines along with sanitizing more often and requiring that employees wear masks and gloves, it still may be risky. But for many, the physical and mental wellness that going for a workout offers, it’s worth the risk after missing the gym for so long.

If you’re set on going, here are tips to help you remain safe when working out at a gym facility.

USE HAND SANITIZER

All gyms and fitness studios have protocols to follow regarding the sanitation of equipment. This includes having equipment that is not shared for group classes and complete sanitation before and after every class.

For those who want to ensure the best protection against the spread of Covid-19 through contact of high touch surfaces like gym equipment and other hard surfaces, wearing disposable gloves is likely not the answer. There are easy solutions like the use of personal hand sanitizers however and companies like Arctic Chiller have repurposed some of their product to provide these solutions for gym-goers and other general use.

Perfect for the gym bag, your purse or your car, their spray and gel formula bottles are the perfect addition to your gym routine to keep germ free. Available in 60mL sizes, they are easy to take along with you during your workout for a quick clean between exercises and a more thorough cleaning after for some added piece of mind .

And for gym owners, they also have full size bottles up to 4L in size for your members to use to clean equipment and for their own use in the studio. Countertop and standing display kits make it easy to position sanitizer conveniently thoughout the facility.

Contact a sales representative to order directly at https://www.arcticchiller.com/

ALWAYS, ALWAYS PRACTICE SOCIAL DISTANCING

It is imperative that you maintain a six-foot barrier between the people around you at the gym at all times. Some guidelines for spin studios are even greater, requiring bikes to be nine-feet apart.

Shara Vigeant, owner of SVPT Fitness + Athletics, is excited to reopen and welcome her members back. “We were physically distancing and sanitizing before it was cool but now we will be following the AHS guidelines to step things up a notch and keep everyone safe,” she says. “This includes staggered appointments to limit occupancy to allow for better distancing, no shared equipment, and using Health Canada grade disinfectant on all equipment and surfaces between clients.  There will be an adjustment period of course in this new way of doing business, but we are confident it will go smooth.”

Yoga studios have their own challenges with mats typically lined up side by side in the studio. Sarah Lindquist, Studio Manager at Navina Yoga says that they will be opening at 50% capacity to begin.

“Students will enjoy more space to practice comfortably while maintaining social distancing with clear mat markers on the floor and one way entrances in & out of the studio,” says Sarah. Hand sanitizer will be offered upon entrance and prior to leaving the studio space, and they ask that students arrive no earlier than 10 minutes prior to class starting. Navina will also be requiring students to pre-register for each class.

WEAR A MASK

Yes, we understand that this might be horribly uncomfortable, especially when doing cardio, but it’s necessary if the machines tend to be close together. Recommendations are that cardio equipment be 3 meters apart and other workout equipment be spaced at 2 meters.

Dr. Hinshaw has stated many times that masks during high intensity exercise is not safe and that distancing should be used instead.

Most people missing the gym can perform exercises with a face mask on. If you choose to wear a mark, you will want to monitor how you’re feeling while exercising and watch out for specific symptoms such as lightheadedness, dizziness, numbness or tingling and shortness of breath.

TRY TO GO DURING A SLOW TIME

Are you an early riser? Head to the gym first thing in the morning. Night owl? Head there late. Just makes sure you go when you know it won’t be as packed with people since there are so many who have been missing the gym.

BRING YOUR OWN SUPPLIES (TOWEL, WATER, ETC.)

Even if your gym provides towels for member use, it’s safer if you bring your own because even if it may look clean, you really never know who has touched it without protective gear.

Bring your own water bottle as well since people touch communal water coolers or a water fountain and it will increase the risk of catching the virus if you touch or use a communal water cooler after someone else.

If you can, try to avoid the locker rooms and come changed for your class. Consider bringing a towel to dry off after your workout and if you can put on some clothing over your workout gear and then shower and change at home. It might not be the most comfortable drive home from the gym but it will keep you safe.

GOING INTO THE POOL? STAY AWAY FROM OTHER SWIMMERS

While the chlorine in the water will inactivate the coronavirus, according to experts, it’s best to practice social distancing on frequently touched surfaces.

Don’t share a lane in a lap pool with someone else and swimmers should also wash their hands after touching railings, ladders and tiles.”

It’s very important to remember when going back to the gym, we still have to practice social distancing; it’s even more important in the gym. When we exercise and we are exerting ourselves, our breathing becomes more forceful. So, that means that we may be able to project respiratory droplets even further than when we are just regularly talking and having a conversation.