Returning to a reopened gym

If your gym hasn’t already reopened, odds are it’s getting ready to do so. If your lockdown for the past 4+ months has consisted of sitting for hours on end during video meetings and/or travelling to your kitchen from your couch, this is most definitely great news for you. And while this is exciting, gyms are going to need to adapt and include the following new safety procedures:

  • Mandatory online booking
  • Reduced gym/class capacity
  • Limited capacity in locker rooms and change rooms
  • Masks must be worn at all times until members are in their designated exercise station/area
  • Cleaning with disinfectant/germ killing product before and after equipment is used (something that should have always been the case anyway)
  • Signage and communication of all of the above
  • Patience!

Gym owners are experiencing feelings of nostalgia and uncertainty at the same time. Not unlike the first day they opened their doors to the public, they are both nervous and excited to build their business and gain the momentum needed to make it successful. But now, they are doing so amidst a global pandemic where “social distancing” is pretty much the polar opposite of why they got into the business of health and fitness. This uncertainty is accompanied by fear: How long will life go on like this, and when are people going to feel more at ease with our ‘new normal’?

When this emergency hit, classes and private training sessions simply came to a stop but overhead did not. If gym owners weren't lucky enough to have their landlord apply for the commercial rent relief, then for many, it was really only a matter of time until they shut their doors for good. Some members who were financially solvent decided to continue to support their gyms by paying for their memberships during the closures. They remained faithful and optimistic that this would later be used toward future classes or personal training. This speaks volumes to the relationships trainers and coaches build with their members.

For some members, this isn’t the case, and they are afraid to go back to their gyms altogether. The main issue that I hear from members hesitant about rejoining their gym is the stress and anxiety over the possibility of contracting the virus, which is an understandable deterrent. Ironically, relieving stress and anxiety is pretty much the best thing about the gym. Knowing that we have an outlet in the morning or at the end of our work day to blow off some steam is priceless.

To me it's a no-brainer. Relieving anxiety and building your immune system is more important than ever right now. Much like a healthy diet, regular exercise can contribute to general good health and therefore to a strong immune system. Exercise promotes good blood circulation, which allows substances and cells of the immune system to move through our bodies freely and do their job efficiently. Exercise also releases feel-good endorphins and other brain chemicals that can enhance your sense of overall well-being, which in turn helps to ease anxiety. Therefore, you can both build your immune system and alleviate stress through regular exercise.

It all comes down to common sense:

  • Keep as much distance from others as much as possible (at least 2 meters)
  • Clean your equipment before and after use
  • Wash your hands at the beginning and end of your workout
  • Keep your face covering on until you are in your exercise station/area
  • Don’t become complacent and use COVID-19 as an excuse not to be active!

Bottom line: Be a candidate for your own health and safety. Contact your gym and speak to owners directly about what their plans are for their reopening. Hiding indoors is not the answer - being safe is.

Jennifer Slauenwhite is a Fitness Professional and a Mother of two with a passion for health and overall well-being. She has spent her entire life in the fitness industry through many family owned and operated fitness centres and has spent the last decade cultivating a community of strong like-minded women. She strives to set an example for women to be the best they can be by channeling their inner athlete and putting up some healthy competition against themselves! #leadbyexample

Jennifer Slauenwhite is a paid spokesperson of Sonnet Insurance.

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