Indoor Gyms & Pools Re-open
One of the main sectors that had to close due to the Coronavirus was the leisure industry, including gyms and swimming pools. Outdoor gyms and pools were allowed to reopen in July due there being less chance of contracting coronavirus outdoors, and now with restrictions easing, many indoor premises are also starting to reopen, but the experience will be very different to what people were previously used to.
Government guidelines state gyms that reopen must follow strict hygiene and social distancing measures, which include;
- Capacity limits, controlled by a timed booking system
- Reduced class sizes
- Equipment spaced out and improved ventilation
- Temporary floor markings in dance studios where possible
- Customers are encouraged arrive in their gym clothes and to shower and change at home
Gym attendees are also being asked to spray equipment with sanitiser before, during and after use, and to keep their workouts to 1 hour to allow more members to attend. Some gym chains have also said they will be checking people’s temperature on arrival, and anyone with a high temperature will be refused admission.
It was reported some fitness clubs saw queues outside their doors on reopening morning, however a lot of gyms have reported a sharp rise in the number of membership cancelations so it’s obvious some people do not yet feel ready to exercise around others indoors.
If you do decide to venture back into the gym, it’s important to think about how this extended time away has affected your fitness, and what you should do to avoid injury when you do resume training.
Although you may want to go full throttle on your first session back in the gym, a gradual return to exercise is key. Don’t go back to the same intensity and frequency as you were doing before lockdown, straight away. It is important to start low and gradually build back up your strength and endurance.
Pushing yourself too far and too fast can lead to unwanted injury even if you feel fresh and ready to go, which in turn will put your fitness goals on hold. Also, this can have a negative impact on you mentally. If you’ve been working out less, or not at all, not being able to execute a heavy lift or complete a long run when you return to the gym might leave you feeling demotivated.
Also, don’t overlook a good warm-up, which is essential in getting your body ready to exercise. The warm-up not only prepares your body but also gives you a couple of minutes to mentally prepare yourself for the work ahead. When your body is better able to handle the demands you make on it with exercise, you’re more likely to have less soreness or stiffness after your workout.
Opposite to a warm-up, a cool-down aims to lower your heart rate and allows your breathing to go back to normal, so is just as important.
Indoor swimming pools are also gradually starting to reopen, with the possible difficulty in maintaining social distancing in changing rooms and poolside, considered to be the main reasons for their delayed opening due to coronavirus, rather than the risk of transmission in water, where chlorine is likely to kill the virus.
With some centres taking the decision not to open straight away due to costs and the logistics involved in heating and chlorinating the pool etc, (which they say they won’t be able to recoup with reduced numbers using the facilities), it may be a while until this sector gets back to normal if at all, as experts estimate around 500 UK pools will have to shut for good as a result of financial problems caused by the lockdown.
Similar guidelines to that of gyms are being implemented at swimming pools, including asking swimmers to arrive at the pool wearing their swimming gear on under clothes, follow the directional signs, maintain social distancing and stay in the lane they are allocated. Showering at home after the swim is also recommended so people don’t spend too much time on site.
The key message to anyone planning to return to gyms and leisure centres is to apply common sense to your decision and to stay at home if you feel unwell.
Respect other gym and pool users and be prepared for a different experience to the one you were used to before lockdown.
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