It’s been a long (and frustrating) time for some, but the announcement that fitness enthusiasts have been waiting for was released yesterday.
Gyms and pools will be able to open their doors again, but what will they look like and how can we all stay safe?
Parvinder Sagoo, Lead medical advisor of Simply Meds offers his tips for staying safe when heading back to your local leisure centre.
Keep your distance at all times
“I would not advise anyone with underlying health issues or complications to visit the gyms or pools yet or those who are feeling a bit nervous.
“The environment of a pool and gym are made so that people are able to perspire and expel bodily fluids freely, this could potentially mean that Covid-19 will be much easier to catch and transmit.
“Most gyms should have social distancing measures in place, such as keeping one meter distance away from others, a one in one out system and they should be monitoring how many people are in the building at one time, however there will be a few gyms and pools that do not adhere to these measures.
“This is why you need to remain vigilant at all times and keep an eye on your personal space to ensure that you are not close to another person.
“Gyms will be full of germs from people perspiring, breathing heavily and exhaling so it is really important that you keep your distance.
“When in the gym and pool stay as far away from other people as you can, keep social distancing in mind.
If someone has jumped on a piece of equipment next to you and you feel worried that they are too close, move yourself away from them and wait for them to finish until you continue. Social distancing is imperative especially in gyms.”
Wear a mask as much as possible
“There are a few things however you can do to help keep yourself and others safe when heading back to the gym.
“Bring a filtered mask with you, you want to make sure that the mask is filtered as this will allow the air to recycle and will keep the mask clean and fresh.
“This is especially important as when you exercise your heart rate will increase and with this you will find that you are breathing a lot heavier and trying to catch your breath, this means that respiratory droplets will more easily travel from your mouth and onto equipment, someone else or into the air, so it’s really important that you wear this mask at all times, when you enter the gym, in the changing rooms and using the actual equipment.”
Bring anti-bac products
“Hand sanitiser is imperative to bring with you and you should try and use this as much as possible throughout your session to ensure that you are not putting yourself at risk.
“You should try not to touch your face at all in your session, you will be tempted to touch your face and wipe your brow, but if any particles are sitting on your hands you may be transferring this to your face and mouth and potentially infecting yourself.
“I would advise bringing a few different things with you to the gym, a mask, hand sanitiser, anti-bacterial wipes, a spare bag to put dirty clothes in and even anti-bacterial spray so you can spray down the equipment before and after using.”
Be wary of changing rooms
“I would try to avoid changing rooms that look busy, cramped or don’t offer a lot of space.
“Gym changing rooms should hopefully have social distancing measures in place, perhaps a one in one out system however many most likely won’t be so It’s up to you to remain wary and vigilant when it comes to using them.
“If you’re able to change at home to avoid changing rooms this is advisable, however it’s understandable if you would prefer to keep your gym kit separate and in a zipped-up bag so not to potentially infect your home.
“I would advise that you bring hand sanitiser, anti-bacterial wipes and spray so you can wipe down areas that you will be using, this includes the bench area, any coat hooks, locker key and handle and interior, shower control, and anything else you are likely to touch.
“I would advise against using the shared hair tools that are often in health clubs such as hair dryers and hair straighteners. If you’re planning on using the changing rooms, wait until they are quiet or only a few people in there.
“If the showers are in separate cubicles then this should be OK to use, but do not use sharing showers especially if there are people in them.
“Do not leave any items out in the open where they are at risk of infection, so towel, clothes, shoes, swimming goggles and products, keep them in a zipped-up bag.
“Once you change out of your gym kit or swimming costume, put into a plastic bag and then again in a zipped-up bag so they are not out. Once you get home I would advise putting your gym kit on a hot wash with good detergent.”
Clean your equipment
“Bring a separate zip bag for your gym clothes, towel and equipment which will be exposed in the gym to other people and the equipment.
“After your session make sure you change out of the clothes worn in the gym and put them in the zipped-up bag, I would then advise washing on a hot wash with good detergent to kill any potential harmful bacteria.
“If you use your own exercise mat, bands or weights, make sure that you spray down these with anti-bacterial spray and cloth to ensure that they are well sanitised before you take them back into your car or house.
“Anti-bacterial wipes should be used to wipe down any mats you use or weights, make sure you wipe down the handle section of any dumbbells, kettle bells and bar weights.
“Before heading on any equipment, you should be making sure that you either wipe down or use your anti-bacterial spray to spray areas such as the front screen with the control settings, the areas you put your hands on as well as the air con areas.
“Make sure you spray and wipe each piece of equipment down after use to ensure that it is clean and ready for the next person.”
Remain vigilant once you leave the gym
“You should remain wary of where you have been and what you have touched even after leaving the gym.
“You should have your dirty gym clothes in a zipped bag and ensure this are kept in the boot of the car as oppose to next to you in the passenger seat.
“Immediately after you leave the gym, make sure you sanitise your hands well. If you are only travelling from the gym to your car in the car park you can take off your mask but just ensure you dispose of it correctly or keep it in a container until it has been washed.
“If you didn’t wash in the changing rooms are just wearing a different set of clothes you may want to use a wet wipe on your face just to ensure it is clean and free from sweat before you get into the car.”