Everyone knows that going to the gym can have serious benefits for your health – strengthening muscle and improving bone health, improving cardiovascular health, lowering blood pressure, relieving stress, and generally making you feel happier and healthier. However, since gyms were forced to close on the 21st March, people have had to find different and sometimes creative ways to exercise. Often this has been at home, saving on travel time and generally being more convenient than travelling to the gym. This begs the question, when gyms reopen in July, should Boldies return?
Firstly, the gym you return to is likely to be quite different to the one you left. Social distancing measures will have been implemented and will need to be maintained. This could result in large plastic screens being installed between pieces of equipment or pieces of equipment being out of use to maintain appropriate distancing. There are also likely to be capacity issues, certain chains have already stated they will be introducing an appointment scheme to help them manage user numbers. Some gyms may well have to operate at around 50% of their previous levels to maintain necessary social distancing rules in the short term.
Once inside, expect to see a lot of sanitizer stations for members to use. Gym staff will also be cleaning a lot more than in the past to keep the risk of contracting COVID-19 as low as possible. It is also very unlikely that you will be allowed to shower or change, the expectation will be that you arrive in your kit and also ideally have footwear that is solely used for the gym.
Despite these potential challenges, gym operators are confident that their members will return. The pandemic has shown that we are social creatures and for some, the gym is their main point for human connection, especially at those gyms that foster a community feel.
Peoples working patterns are likely to play a big part in where they exercise. If the current trend for working at home continues, even only on a part time basis this may result in people having a varied approach to their fitness. Perhaps attending the gym when out at work and exercising at home when they are home based?
Ultimately the decision whether to return is a personal one and everyone must weigh up the risks of returning. As a gym owner I would like to think that the benefits firmly outweigh the risks and I will be doing everything possible to keep the risk of infection to a minimum for my members. If you choose to return to your gym, you should expect to see strict social distancing measures in place and the staff to be cleaning like they’ve never cleaned before! As long as you are satisfied the risks are being kept to a minimum, returning to your gym could be another step along the path to the new normal.