When the COVID-19 pandemic hit the United States, fitness establishments were ordered to close. Gyms and other public spaces where a large number of people usually gather were deemed high-risk where the viral disease can easily spread.
Like many others, you are probably wondering if it’s safe to go back to the gym. Or perhaps, even if gyms have opened in your area, you're thinking twice about going due to some conflicting information about gym safety during the COVID-19 pandemic. With public health officials’ orders to observe proper social distancing of at least six feet and other measures to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus, going back to a normal fitness routine is rife with challenges and lots of sanitizing.
If you go to a gym in the Eado and Heights areas, you’ve probably looked up information about COVID-19 safety protocols in Houston gyms and whether it’s safe to go back.
How to be safe at the gym during the pandemic
Before you head to your neighborhood fitness center for a much-needed sweat session, consider the following factors.
And we are not talking about barbells or dumbbells.
Both small fitness facilities and chain gyms are ordered to disinfect round the clock, clean equipment and surfaces, and encourage members who are feeling sick to stay home. However, even if a gym strictly implements these measures, members at smaller gyms may find it difficult to practice social distancing.
This can be especially problematic if your gym is not only small but also filled with people eager to work out after months of self-isolating. If you go to a fitness club where keeping a six-foot distance from other people is impossible, go somewhere spacious where you can observe this social distancing rule.
Proper safety protocols while exercising
When training at the gym, you need more than just your workout clothes, gloves, and fitness gadget. Now, you also need the following:
Sanitizer, alcohol, and clean wipes
- Even if you go to a gym big enough to accommodate a large number of people, you still need to remain vigilant. At Facet Seven Eado and Heights, our facilities and equipment are cleaned and disinfected by the hour, and our trainers and other staff strictly observe safety measures. Our gyms are also well-stocked with sanitizers, cleaning wipes, and other disinfecting agents.
Regardless of where you work out, it wouldn’t hurt to maintain your own sanitizing routines and bring your own sanitizers.
Some gyms may require members to wear a mask, especially when it gets overcrowded. The good news for our members is that at Facet Seven gyms, we allow members to take masks off their face while on cardio equipment (spaced seven feet apart) and during sets as long as they’re socially distanced.
Bring your own water bottle instead of refilling it with water from the communal drinking fountain. It’s much safer.
Instead of using your hands to wipe sweat off your face, use a towel, and lay another one over the weight bench while you train.
Related reading: Facet Seven COVID-19 Reopening
Choosing schedules to work out
If you’re used to working out at the gym during peak hours, consider tweaking your schedule. Go during off-peak hours; the fewer the gym-goers, the better. You should also check if your gym designates schedules for specific types of members.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “older adults and people of any age who have serious underlying medical conditions might be at higher risk for severe illness from COVID-19.” If you belong to this classification of vulnerable populations, you should definitely consider going to the gym only during off-peak hours. Better yet, switch to one that designates schedules for vulnerable populations.
At Facet Seven, we’ve allotted 11: 00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. for vulnerable members. And to avoid having contact between our staff and members, we encourage clients to use the Facet Seven mobile application to remotely check in.
Minimizing contact while at the gym
Under normal circumstances, the gym can be a great place to socialize. But these are extraordinary times that call for extraordinary measures. Minimizing contact while at the gym is highly encouraged.
According to infectious diseases experts like Manish Trivedi of AtlantiCare Regional Medical Center in New Jersey, coughing and sneezing directly onto a person or any surface is what sheds the virus. And based on many available information about the coronavirus, it starts to spread when an infected person releases respiratory droplets.
With so much activity and different exercising habits at the gym, avoiding contact completely is near-impossible. Fortunately, there are ways to minimize contact while exercising at the gym. For example, members and clients should be encouraged to make payments online. Trade in group exercising for one-on-one personal training for high-quality training experiences.
With all that said, you may still be asking...
Is it safe to go back to the gym?
The short answer is yes — you may still go to the gym despite the ongoing pandemic. We understand that everyone has just about had enough of self-isolating. Unfortunately, going back to normal isn’t entirely possible. But don’t lose hope.
Gyms may not be classified as essential businesses during the pandemic, but keeping a healthy routine even — or especially — during a public health crisis remains necessary. A gym equipped with the right equipment and staffed with fitness experts will let you better maintain your fitness routine.
However, you don’t want to go back to your healthy ways only to risk catching the novel virus. Go to the gym only if you’re sure that you can properly observe social distancing and all the other necessary measures. More importantly, venture out only if your gym is equipped to keep all its members safe.
If your Houston-area gym is not up to the task of keeping you safe against COVID-19, stay at home. Better yet, if your gym is unable to meet the strict standards imposed by public health officials, switch to Facet Seven. We have prepared our facilities to help you work out safely during this difficult time. Consult one of our fitness experts about our personal, high-impact training programs today.
About The Author
Founder & Training Director
Layn has spent his life immersed in the worlds of fitness and physical performance. As an athlete, he’s completed multiple endurance events such as the Texas Bandera 50k Trail Run, Austria’s Ironman 70.3, and the Alaskaman Extreme Ironman. He’s been coaching since 2008 with certifications in USA Weightlifting Level 1, CrossFit Level 1, Strong First L1, and the National Academy of Sports Medicine.