Is it safe to return to the gym?

At the end of July, it seemed that good news was coming, meaning local gyms would reopen as scheduled during phase 5 of this country’s reopening plan. And while I can’t wait to hit the weights, recent events, such as the spike in coronavirus cases on August 2, means that happy event could be somewhat delayed.

I have always felt that the gyms could be classified as essential businesses and therefore should have been reopened weeks ago, as long strict guidelines are adhered to. 

To bolster my argument that a gym is an essential business, I point to the significance of people’s mental health and their physical health both of which are needed to fight diseases. For me, if it has to do with health and fitness, I think it’s an essential business. I recognise that there are some who would not agree.

Around the world, the stance on reopening gyms varies. According to information available online, in China – the likely source of the pandemic – there has been a gradual reopening of fitness and sports facilities, and in some places, attendances have already built to 80 per cent of pre-pandemic levels.

In Europe, the continent hardest hit by Covid-19, the Czech Republic was among the first countries to begin to reopen its gyms and clubs, followed by Switzerland, Norway, and Germany. Finland and Sweden, according to reports, allowed gyms to remain open throughout the pandemic with restrictions in place, although some facilities chose to close.

In the UK, gyms and pools reopened late last month with strict new guidelines.

In the US, where each individual state has the authority to lift lockdown measures, some states have allowed fitness facilities to reopen. New York, which was hard hit by Covid-19, is not among them. However, a class-action lawsuit, which could involve up to 4,000 gyms, has been filed against the state of New York, the governor, and the attorney general.

But I digress. 

As a fitness professional, I have some recommendations on how gyms could operate safely and effectively in Guyana, given the reality of the pandemic. I propose that all gyms:

1. Set spacing limitations and make enough room for everyone to workout at safe distances.

2. Make sure use of shared equipment, machines, weights, and other workout devices is minimized to the greatest extent possible.

3. Follow strict sanitizing and disinfecting practices, which should be ramped up from once or twice a day to after every session.

4. Conduct temperature checks as part of safety procedures.

5. Require members and trainers to stay at home if they show any signs or symptoms of Covid-19.

Once these are all in place, we can return to safe lifting and making gains.

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