We are living in unprecedented times. The Covid-19 pandemic is still prevalent in India and many parts of the world. Since the lockdown is expected to open (or relaxed) now, the biggest question in the minds of fitness enthusiasts is are gyms safe to use when the lockdown is open?
The simple answer is, it depends. There are many factors to consider when deciding if you should go to the gym after the lockdown is over. We will discuss some of the factors that you should keep in mind.
Should You Go To The Gym During Covid – A Doctor’s Opinion
Since a medical professional is the most qualified to answer this question, we first contacted Dr. Surbhi Wadhwani, a medical professional from Indore, to ask her views. This is what she had to say.
“If you want 100% safety, then don’t go to the gym. But, you can’t go anywhere else too, as the risk of COVID-19 is not going away soon. You can get infected anywhere, the gym is a likely place as there is an active exchange of bodily fluids (sweat). Obviously, once you’re infected, you can actively spread the risk to your family and friends, so you should keep that in mind too. If I had to give a yes or no answer, then I would say no, don’t go to the gym.”
So that’s what her recommendation is. We, on the other hand, leave it up to you to decide. However, there are some important things to consider before you decide what you’re going to do.
The Area You Live In
This one is pretty obvious. If you’re living in a city (and area) that has a very low number of active cases, then it is relatively safer to head to the gym.
How Well Your Gym Is Sanitized
If you’ve been to a gym, you know that most gyms don’t sanitize their equipment. A wipe down with a wet cloth doesn’t count. With COVID, sanitization is critical, and every gym should be doing it multiple times a day. If your gym isn’t doing it, then it will be very risky for you to work out there.
What You Do in the Gym
The kind of exercises (and other things) you do in the gym will also affect the overall risk you face. With weight training, you are very likely to share equipment, touch other people, and exchange bodily fluids (sweat) with other people. It is very difficult to perform resistance training with a mask on your face, so that factor should be considered too.
On the other hand, if you just walk or run on the treadmill at the gym, your risk is considerably lower. Make sure that treadmills are placed at a safe distance, and you should sanitize the handles and buttons before your workout.
If you participate in group activities like yoga, Zumba, CrossFit, then your risk of infection is quite high as you will be in close proximity to other people.
No Gym is 100% Safe
Keep in mind that even with complete sanitization and precautions, no gym is completely safe. And that is not limited to COVID only. Gyms are largely closed spaces, they are humid, and a lot of people sweat in it. You are likely to catch diseases in the gym anyways. The difference is that there is no cure or vaccine for COVID-19, and it can be fatal. That is why you should be extra careful before deciding to go to the gym.
The Decision is Yours, but we won’t recommend it
Ultimately, only you can decide the risk of going to the gym is worth it. We would say that the risk-reward ratio is not worth it right now, and possibly for the near future. No matter what your motivations might be, there are not worth putting the life of your loved ones (and yours) at risk.
If You Decide To Go, Here Are Some Things To Remember
If you do decide to go to the gym, then here are some things that you should keep in mind.
First, carry a large bottle of sanitizer with you and sanitize everything you use. This includes weights, machines, etc. Obviously you can’t sanitize the entire machine that you are using, but what you need to do is sanitize all points of contact with the machine. If you’re using a bench press, then sanitize the actual bench completely, the bar, and the weights that you use. This ensures the risk is minimized.
Second, do not share equipment. When working out, it is common for people to alternate sets on the same machine. During this time, it is discouraged to do so for obvious reasons. It is also recommended that you complete your exercise on one machine, then move on to the next. Don’t alternate machines or equipment.
Third, maintain social distance. That didn’t have to be said, but we did it again anyway.
Fourth, wear a mask. If you have trouble breathing with a mask, then lighten the intensity of your workout. Don’t exercise without a mask, please.
What Alternatives Do You Have?
If you’re smart and decide not to go to the gym, then the question you’ll be asking yourself is, “What other options do I have?” Actually, there are several. Let us share some decent options.
Depending on your existing conditioning, you can switch to bodyweight workouts. There are several available on YouTube, and we will embed a couple here if we find some general one (which anyone can do).
Buy Some Equipment
Newsflash, you can buy fitness equipment now. Who knew? 😛
So this is what you need to do. Whatever you do in the gym, you buy the equipment for that and use it at your home. We’ve already covered some fitness equipment here, and we will link them here.
If you’re looking for something that we haven’t covered, then you can find tons of gym and fitness equipment on Amazon. If you have trouble deciding what to buy, we’ve covered some of those topics as well.
Home Gym vs Exercise Machines (coming soon)
Exercise Bike vs Other Fitness Equipment (coming soon)
Stay Safe and Choose Carefully
I hope this article gives you clarity on the subject of gyms being safe to go or not. The writing is on the wall, but if you’re a hardcore fitness enthusiast, then do follow the precautions if you do decide to head to the gym. Remember, the risk is not only with you, but also everyone you come in contact with. Always keep that in mind.