Going Back To The Gym Amid Pandemic? Here’s How To Protect Yourself

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As several states have begun reopening businesses slowly and easing restrictions throughout the country, citizens are wondering whether they can resume activities such as working out at the gym and frequenting bars. State governors are taking their own call depending on the magnitude of the COVID-19 pandemic they are facing. Of them, California is entering phase 2 of its plan to return life back to normal during the health crises this Friday. 

The state of California has the same rules on schools, bars and gyms being allowed to function as usual from June 12. But each county has to meet a certain requirement of preparedness and testing in order to reopen hotels, casinos and museums, among other businesses. Similarly, on June 5, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis announced that the state may recommence bar and gym operations, with the exception of Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach Counties. 

However, the choice to go back to our gyms remains personal. It is dependent upon each person’s assessment of risk, contamination and ability to vigilantly maintain hygiene in a public space with people in close proximity.

Here are some of the precautions that gym-goers can take: 

Maintain Distance

Vigorous exercises involve a lot of breathing, grunting and coughing, inevitably propelling potentially infectious particles forward into the air and posing a health risk to people close-by. To avoid this situation, ensure you maintain a safe distance of six feet from others to prevent accidental contact during group classes.

Equipment at the gym should not be kept close together and instead should either be moved apart or put out of service. If you’re in a closed space with a group, ensure there is sufficient ventilation. Also, gym managements should enforce a limit on the number of people allowed at any given time. 

Frequently Clean Equipment

Smooth and hard surfaces on gym equipment can house the virus much longer than cardboard or paper material, making the cleaning of equipment an important precaution. Disinfect weights, benches and machine rails, both before and after every single use. Never depend on the person who used it before you. Once you have accomplished this, wash or sanitize your hands again after cleaning the machines. 

Manage Your Sweat

Touching your face is an involuntary reaction when breaking into a sweat during a workout, particularly to cleanse the face of sweat dripping down. This is unhealthy and problematic. It is advisable to not touch the face and mouth area while working out at the gym as aerosols spread SARS-CoV-2. This can easily be done by carrying clean towels, one for each shoulder. If you frequently get sweat in your eyes, try a sweat band or bandana on your head.

People are exercising in the gym. People do exercises in a fitness park of the Barceloneta’s beach, in Barcelona on June 12, 2016. PAU BARRENA/AFP/Getty Images

Wash Hands

To prevent spreading the disease through infectious droplets from surfaces, wash your hands diligently before entering the gym and after leaving. Gyms should make the process of signing in more convenient without the usage of touch, while the gym staff must mandatorily wear masks.

Don’t Shower At The Gym

Changing rooms, showers and drinking fountains put people at risk for COVID-19 infections and gyms are advised to not operate them presently. Gym-goers should change and shower at home, and not on the premises for the time being. Do not dry your hair using the common dryer because similar to air conditioners and fans, it can emit droplets. 

Bring Your Own Water

Amidst the pandemic, avoid drinking fountains and refilling water from common water stations as these smooth surfaces could transmit coronavirus. Gyms should, first of all, close down water stations. Simply bring your own water bottle. Bring as much as you need to avoid refills.   

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