A guide to Covid-safe gym workouts and fitness classes – what you can, can’t, and shouldn’t do

Salvation is nigh! Gyms are reopening as of 25 July, and already that lockdown paunch you’ve been protecting over the past few months is packing its bags. It’s time to get fit again. 

Of course, the reopening of gyms in the ‘new normal’ is going to herald a different type of workout space. Covid-friendly gyms will probably have fewer banks of treadmills and exercise bikes; some equipment will have to be cleared away to make sure people can work out while socially distant. Although gyms are not one of the places listed by the government where people need to wear a mask, some gyms may implement the use of them in certain areas. 

Fitness enthusiasts will have to change their behaviour to keep themselves and others safe. Gym etiquette is a contentious issue at the best of times and in the age of Covid it’s only going to become more so. 

So, once you’ve booked your gym session (yep, all visits to the gym, not just for classes, will need to be arranged in advance), what do you need to know? Here’s how to conduct yourself safely on your journey around the gym floor. 

At the weights

This is arguably where the biggest changes in gym etiquette will be necessary, because the weights section is where you’re likely to have the most contact with shared surfaces. If one person has just used a dumbbell, in theory, that dumbbell could be a ‘vector of disease’ for the next 48 hours – or until it’s cleaned.

“Gyms will have additional wipes and antibacterial sprays available,” says Dr Simran Deo from UK-based online doctor Zava UK. “Try to use these before and after you use each bit of equipment to help protect yourself and others. Throw disposable towels or wipes straight in the bin after using them, and wash your hands after handling.” 

Once you’ve wiped the equipment off, give it a moment before you pick it up. According to WHO studies, it takes about 30 seconds for a standard alcoholic wipe to kill the virus. 

If you’re the type who tends to grunt when handling weights, Deo also advises you to restrain yourself. Much like how singing is currently banned at weddings, loud grunts can project coronavirus and negate the benefit of social distancing. “Covid-19 is spread through water or mucus droplets from the nose and mouth,” says Dr Deo. “You spread more droplets when talking loudly, shouting or grunting, so try to keep it down while lifting those weights.”

As ever, social distancing should still be observed and that’ll mean that unless you live with your gym buddy, spotting (the act of supporting someone’s weights as they lift of lower them) won’t be possible. With this in mind, be respectful of others by only using weights you can comfortably manage so you don’t get into trouble. Doing more reps with lighter weights can be just as effective as doing less with heavier. 

On the treadmill or exercise bike

If you’re doing aerobic exercise then chances are that you’re going to be panting. Is that a problem?

“It’s not fully clear if heavy breathing when exercising close to others increases your risk of contracting and spreading the virus, but some experts suggest that it may,” says Dr Luke Powles, associate clinical director of BUPA Health Clinics. It’s a logical assumption: the more you breath the more viral droplets you’ll either project or be exposed to. However, there’s little by way of evidence here, so common sense should prevail, in the form of social distancing. You’ll be helped by the fact that gyms will spread out their machines.

— to www.telegraph.co.uk

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