After a few months of being told to stay at home, we’re being encouraged to go out and about again. It’s time to try and get back to normal. A new normal. Indoor fitness facilities like gyms and pools are the next thing on the list to open up.
Some of us can’t wait to get back to it. Others might be a little more cautious. What we need to remember is that the virus has not gone away. Right now, we can’t just go back to the way things were. There are steps we all need to take to look after our health and safety, whilst getting back to our everyday lives at the same time.
We know it’s important to fit fitness in. It’s good for the mind. The body. The soul. And all that. We should all be able to get back to the gym and workout in our own way. The government’s decision to lift the restrictions on fitness facilities means that, with the right precautions in place, it is safe to do so. But there are a few things we need to think about that we didn’t have to before.
It’s all about reducing risks. Everybody has their own responsibilities for making the risk of transmitting a virus as low as possible and we all make our own decisions over what risks we are willing to take.
That means it’s up to you to decide whether you’re ready to head into the gym. And up to you to take some actions to reduce risks while you’re there. For yourself, and also for others. Fitness facilities have their own responsibilities around creating an environment where the risk of transmission is as low as possible. Together, our combined efforts will mean you can workout safely, knowing that your risk of picking up and transmitting the virus is as low as it can be.
To help you understand what exactly that means, here’s a breakdown of the government advice on things the gyms will do, and things you should do, to workout safely:
Things your gym might do:
The below is taken directly from the government guidance on reopening leisure facilities. For the specific details and measures taken by your gym, please contact them directly.
Cleaning will be carried out more regularly
Expect to see surface and kit cleaning happening much more regularly. You might even need to share the space with people cleaning as you work out. Studios and spin rooms will be cleaned thoroughly between sessions, so classes might be less regular to allow enough time for this to happen. Opening hours might change to ensure a deep clean is carried out at the end of each day.
You might need to change and shower at home
The government guidance encourages all gym visitors to come ready to workout in their kit and head home to shower and change. This will mean that the changing facilities at your gym might not be in use. For pools, changing spaces will be available, but perhaps with reduced capacity. Some facilities like hair dryers might not be in use. We will continue to update our gym pages with information about the status of each venue and the measures being taken, but if you are unsure you should contact your gym directly for information on the exact measures they will be taking.
The music might be turned down low
To discourage the need to raise your voice or shout, music played in the gym might be turned down low or switched off all together. So, if you need beats and bass to keep motivated, remember to bring your headphones.
It’s all going contactless
To minimise the need for any contact, contactless payments will likely be taken in your facility for any purchases. In an old school sense, doors will be propped open at all times to avoid you having to touch them. So no need to shut them on your way through.
Social distancing while working out
Every gym will take their own approach to make sure customers can stay at least 1m apart from each other at all times. This might mean limited capacity in certain spaces, floor markers to show you what 1m distance looks like, more space between machinery, or machines that are not available for use. Where possible, some activities and equipment might be moved outside. You can expect a bit of a reshuffle of equipment in order to maintain the right distances.
You might need to queue
To keep the number of people inside the facility within new capacity limits, you might need to wait outside the gym for a little bit before you can get in. Don’t worry, the queue will be properly managed and kept in a designated and safe space. Or, your gym might use a booking system to manage capacity concerns. We will continue to update our gym pages with information about the status of each venue and the measures being taken, but if you are unsure you should contact your gym directly for information on the exact measures they will be taking.
Moving about safely
To let you move through the facilities safely, your gym might bring certain measures into place. One-way systems may be introduced and shown via floor markings to avoid you passing by anybody. Entrances and exits therefore might be a little different than what you’re used to. If your gym usually has a turnstile, this might be disabled in favour of a no-contact solution.
To support the government’s test and trace system, you may need to provide your name and contact details on arrival at reception. This will be kept for 21 days. If you are contacted due to a case of COVID-19 connected with your gym and the time of your visit, you must self-isolate for 14 days as instructed. If you develop symptoms of coronavirus you and other members of your household must self-isolate for 14 days and you must book a test on the NHS website or call 119 if you have no internet access.
Things you can do:
The NHS website and the GOV.UK website have lots of information on what you need to do during this time to help keep yourself and others safe. The information below has been taken from these sources.
Keep washing your hands
On arrival at the gym, wash your hands straight away. Before you touch any equipment. When you’re finished, wash your hands again before heading out. It sounds obvious but keeping your hands clean is a very effective way of making sure you don’t pass on or pick up any infection. There should be plenty of hand sanitiser available on the gym floor to keep you topped up too.
Don’t touch your face
In between the times you’re able to wash your hands, it’s important not to touch your face to stop any infection entering your body. That includes your eyes, nose, ears, and mouth. Keep your hands on the dumbbells and not on your face.
Know when you should wear a mask
Masks are not mandated in the gyms, meaning you don’t have to wear one when you workout. If you prefer to wear a mask, that’s up to you. Masks should be worn in conditions where you’re unable to social distance, so whilst not wearing one in the gym, make sure you maintain the 1m distance from others at all times. If you take public transport to and from the gym, you should wear a mask on your journey.
Bring your own towel
Most gyms won’t be providing them. So make sure to bring your own sweat towel to keep yourself cool and dry during your workout. Try not to place it on any equipment that might soon be used by others. If you’re using the pool or need to shower and change, bring your own towel as your facility might not be providing them anymore. Make sure to wash it in between gym visits.
Wipe down equipment after use
This is something you should have always done, but it’s even more important now. When you’re finished with a piece of equipment, wipe it down. Your gym should have plenty of antibacterial wipes and sprays for you to do this. Always make time for the wipe down.
Bring your own water bottle
There will be no communal drinks fountains available, so make sure to bring your own water bottle. Bring enough to keep you going for your entire session.
Keep your distance from others
Respect other people’s right to the 1m distance. Don’t forget, it’s not just for you, it’s for them too. Assume everyone wants at least that much space. Let them workout comfortably and safely. There will be plenty of guidance in your gym to let you know how many people can workout in one area at a time.
Whether it’s waiting for someone to finish using a bit of kit, waiting in line to get into a certain area, or waiting for something to be cleaned properly. Be patient. We’re all trying to navigate this new normal the best way we can. It’s going to take some figuring out to do, but we will get there.
So, make sure to do your bit. Reduce your risk. Respect yourself, your gym, and others. That way, we can all continue to Make Life Work Out.
To find out more information about your passes and unpausing them, please visit our FAQ section.
For more information on COVID-19 and the sport, gym, and leisure facilities please read the full government guidance here.
For more information on the test and trace system please read the government guidance here.
For more information about COVID-19, it’s symptoms, and how to book a test please visit the NHS website.