Health and safety in COVID gym reopenings
I was scrolling through my old photos, feeling nostalgic for the progress shots of my clients lifting weights inside at the gym. As we move closer to the days of reopening the facilities, I have some advice for those of us who love the gym. For those whom it is not only a second home and social scene but also a place of business. Let’s get this right, so we can keep the privilege.
The precautions I’ll be taking as I step back into the gym? First, I will say: thank you for opening these doors to me again! I always start with a gratitude attitude. Now I will be considering how to keep myself healthy in this space and time. The guidelines for safety during COVID are shaping up. All the experts seem to agree on what is unsafe: six feet and more than 15 minutes of indoor exposure with no mask. What does this mean for us in the gym? I suggest each of us bring our mask and wear it traveling to and from our workout station. Most gyms have taped off areas with six feet between stations. When you arrive and decide what your goal is for the day, bring all the equipment you will need into your station to limit the back and forth. Working in a smaller area requires equipment organization and awareness so there are no trip and fall accidents! We came to get healthier and stronger, not twist an ankle. Try to keep your workout time focused on your goals. Maybe implement supersets: working opposing muscle groups. As an example: do a set of supine ball dumbbell pullovers then superset ball pushups. This allows rest time for the back as you are using the chest as primary mover. Supersets can shorten the time (and exposure) in the gym.
I hope my facility is keeping the safety of all the members in mind as it sets out the new normal. Clear markings for social distancing workout zones are a must. Communal agreement and enforcement of mask use when travelling outside work zones. Many of us at the gym feel great! But we want the whole community, especially the immune compromised, to feel welcome and safe. Available and frequent surface cleaning helps us all keep the touch points clean. If the staff isn't following social distancing and mask protocols, the percentage of members compliant will quickly drop. We need communities that are interested in health and safety for all. Right now, it means we must be excellent in our standards. Masks up and kindness first. You never know who is dealing with disease, stress or fear. If we can rise up as a community we will all get stronger.
The CDC, state and local officials are constantly updating the best practices and guidelines. Check them daily if your facility is lucky enough to be open. Keeping community minded will help us all navigate this new time with health as our primary goal.
I miss the gym. I miss heavy lifting and big weights. However, when my facility reopens, I will check the weather on Sunday and plan my workouts with as much cardio and isolation muscle work outside. I will choose to go indoors for my heavy lifting days. I will be efficient and grateful for my indoor gym time. I will use the time to access bars and racks, big dumbells and slam balls. However, I'll still do my long runs outside and my yoga online. I like the communities I've built on Zoom and in my neighborhood, too. COVID has gifted us with changing our routines. Setting up for reopening allows us to create and schedule for success. A walk in nature is better for our health than 20 a walk on the treadmill. Let's rebuild a better world.
Optimal health and vitality begins with these six foundational principles: