Should You Go To Gym During The Coronavirus Pandemic? What These Gyms Had To Say

What to know before you go.

As anyone who’s ever been to a spin, HIIT, or yoga group fitness class knows—especially if you’re in a crowded town with a favourite teacher—there’s not much social distancing going on.

Those sweating and breathing hard are typically doing so with others well within the 1-2 metre keep-your-distance zone that the World Health Organisation recommends to stop the community spread of the new coronavirus.

And if the class uses shared equipment like weights, mats and bands, it could be another way to pass along the virus that causes COVID-19 if those items aren’t properly sanitised.

Related: How Coronavirus Actually Behaves Inside Your Body

At this time, “social distancing is prudent,” Benjamin Schwartz, M.D., Fairfax County (Va.) division director of epidemiology and population health, said in a statement to Men’s Health. So how do you do it in a group fitness class? “If a class cannot accommodate 20 people with social distancing – 1 – 2 metres is best – then consider decreasing class size,” he says.

If your gym hasn’t decreased class size

So far, the SA government hasn’t laid out guidelines specifically for small-group fitness classes as it has for schools, places of worship and large public gatherings like sporting events. (On Sunday 15 March South African President Cyril Ramaphosa announced to the nation strict guidelines on public gatherings and travel. )

That has left the group fitness industry to sift through the blanket recommendations to see what is most applicable to deal with COVID-19, which was officially classified as a pandemic by the World Health Organization on Wednesday, 11 March 2020.

Related: Your Phone Can Carry the Coronavirus for Up to 9 Days

What gyms are doing

Gyms have been taking action throughout the globe. In the US, representatives for SoulCycle, Barry’s Bootcamp and Orangetheory told Men’s Health that they are taking extra measures at their studios, including offering alcohol-based hand sanitisers to their members.

Locally, several gyms like Sweat 1000 are working to protect clients even more by having instructors wipe down every single piece of equipment after every class and an extensive deep clean is done every day by our team of dedicated staff members. Help them—and you—out by wiping equipment down yourself with the sanitisers at the gym before and after use.

Besides the general guidelines to disinfect hands before and after every class and to avoid touching your eyes, mouth and nose, Sweat 1000 are following the below actions which includes decreasing their class sizes (swipe for more).

Virgin Active stated that they are committed to President Ramaphosa’s message to bolster hygiene control. Stating the below:

The gym is also implementing the below hygiene control:

What you should do in class

The new coronavirus is spread through droplets, typically excreted by an infected person via a cough or a sneeze. The virus can’t be transmitted through sweat, but it can live on surfaces for several hours and potentially days, making washing hands, avoiding contact with the face and wiping down equipment after each use crucial.

“Substitute fist pumps for high fives,” Orangetheory said in its statement. “Please feel comfortable not participating in any bodily contact with the staff or other members if you so choose.”

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