Yes, after nearly a 3-month hiatus, gyms have finally re-opened, but are we prepared to go back? Many of us have been doing some form of workout at home to stay toned and fit. However, now that gyms are re-opened, how should we prepare ourselves to go back to a gym workout according to the new norms and SOPs?

With Covid-19 still on everyone’s mind, outdoor exercise while practicing social distancing is still the best choice. This may not be practicable for the working adults who put in long hours, as public parks may be closed by the time they get off work, or the unpredictable Malaysian weather may not be good to plan outdoor exercise; so, going to the gym is a good alternative.

Here are some pointers to help you decide.

Choose a well-ventilated gym:

After the closure of some well-known gyms some years ago, many gyms operate on monthly fees now. You have the flexibility to easily look for another gym if the current place does not meet your requirements.

If you plan to go to a gym, do look for one that is well-ventilated and spacious. Do bear in mind that there could be an infected person, probably asymptomatic person, who could inadvertently transmit the Covid-19 virus to others nearby. And if the gym is poorly ventilated and damp, this increases the chance of viral transmission.

Keep a distance of at least 1m away from other gym users, and now is not the time to gather in groups to engage in chats or exchange notes on workouts.

Cambridge Health Alliance Massachusetts division chief of infectious diseases, Dr Lou Ann Bruno-Murtha, stressed in an interview with USA Today, on the importance that the air in the gym should be fresh and not recirculated.

“If it is recirculated air, it should go through HEPA filtration so you know any pathogens or germs in that air are being removed before it’s being brought back into the room and you’re inhaling it,” said Dr Bruno-Murtha.

Your gym must adhere to the new norm SOPs:

Make sure your gym practices social distancing according to the size of the gym, and markers are in place. They should also make hand sanitizers, disinfectants and cleaning materials readily available.

Try to schedule your workouts at off-peak hours when less people are around.

Bring your own gym items:

Now is probably not the time to use gym towels or their water dispensers. To be on the safe side, bring along your own gym items like your own water bottle, towel, workout gloves and face masks.

Usage of gym equipment:

Lab research has shown the Covid-19 virus can survive for nearly 4 hours on copper, up to 24 hours on cardboard and up to 3 days on stainless steel.

Dr Mandy Zhang, an associate consultant with Changi General Hospital’s Sport and Exercise Medicine, advises gym goers to use disinfectant wipes to wipe down equipment like kettlebells or medicine balls before using them. Likewise, do the same after you finish using the equipment. If this is not convenient, you can wear workout gloves as an alternative.

Lay down your own towel before using exercise machines or benches. To avoid touching and contaminating your mobile, don’t use it during your exercise. If you use a treadmill, make sure to keep a distance of at least 1 to 3 meters from the person next to you.

Make sure you avoid touching your mouth, nose or eyes.

As it is not advisable to use a face mask especially during a cardio workout, proper social distancing is vital here.

Group exercises:

Group exercises with everyone breathing hard and sweating, are normally held in confined spaces that make them ideal environments for the transmission of the Covid-19 virus.

If you wish to attend a group exercise class, maintain a distance of 3 to 5 meters from the persons around you.  The gym should clearly mark out the spots for individuals to stand on, and the class should not be crowded.

In South Korea, authorities traced a cluster of 112 infections back to 8 of a group of 27 instructors who were infected after an intense 4-hour dance fitness workshop.

Hitting the shower after your workout:

If it is not convenient to get home and shower, you can take a shower at the gym. Before you shower, just place all soiled clothing, gloves, shoes water bottle into a Ziplock plastic bag and put it in your gym bag to take home for cleaning or sanitizing. This should be done after every workout session.

Exercise leads to fitness which boosts a strong immune system. Those who prefer workout at gyms can do so now, but it is important to follow the new norm SOPs displayed at gyms to avoid transmission of the Covid-19 virus.

By Aaron
17th June 18:40

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