As the world begins to slowly transition into the "new normal," different services are beginning to return. With COVID-19 and new guidelines in place, what can we expect out of our gyms? Will they be completely different? How can you return safely? In this article we will explore some of these common questions.
The first question you ask might be, "is it safe to return to the gym"? The answer is it varies from person to person. If you have a pre-existing health condition, talk with your doctor first. They can weigh out the pro's and con's and give some feedback. If you don't feel comfortable quite yet returning to the gym, that's okay! Continue to use other methods of exercise ie: home based programs and reassess down the road.
If you are planning on returning to the gym, here are some things you can expect:
1. COVID-19 Questionnaire:
Be prepared to answer standard questions related to the COVID-19 virus. These may include: have your recently travelled, have you experienced flu like symptoms etc. This allows the staff to screen out potentially sick individuals and prevent them from entering the gym. Some facilities may even take an extra step and have temperature guns ready to test members before they enter the gym.
2. Booking appointments:
With restrictions on large gatherings and maintaining social distance, most gyms will require you to book a workout time. This way they can regulate how many members are in the gym at any given time.
3. Limited workout time:
Most appointments are currently 1hr which means your will need to be efficient when it comes to your workout. I would suggest do things in the gym you can't do at home ie: weight training and think about leaving the stretching at home if you don't have the time in the gym. Also, try to group exercises together by performing supersets to get the most out of your exercise routine in a shorter period of time.
4. Social distancing:
Most pieces of equipment will be spaced out in a way to maintain 6 feet apart. This means you can't move benches, and you can't directly stand beside someone when doing your curls. However, because most gyms will limit the number of people entering, you should have no problem with keeping your distance.
5. Sanitize, sanitize, sanitize!
Most gyms will hire staff specifically to sanitize all equipment throughout the day. However, it will also be on the member to continue to sanitize before and after using the equipment. Yes this will cut into your exercise time, but you're helping to minimize the spread of bacteria in the gym. Not to mention the next person to use that machine will thank you for wiping off your sweat!
6. Don't hog the machine!
Because everyone has the same 1hr, and everyone has their own routine, don't stay on one piece of equipment for too long. Chances are, other people will want to use it. So be mindful of your fellow gym members.
7. Don't overdo it right out of the gate:
Many of us have not touched weights in over 2 months. To go back to the gym thinking you will lift the same weight as you did pre-quarantine is setting yourself up for injury. Instead, cut the weight in half of what you normally do, and gradually work your way back up. Yes you will be sore the next day, but this is expected! Make sure to also focus on a proper warm-up. I know you may feel like it's a waste of time, especially with the already limited time you have in the gym. But it could be the difference that saves you from injury which leaves you out of the gym for another few months.
8. Get your sleep:
As your body begins to get back to your workout routine, it will require more rest to recover the body and be ready for the next workout. Sleep is where you make the real gains! Aim for adequate sleep (7-8hrs a night) to allow for maximal recovery. You also want to keep your immune system high during these times, so adequate rest is key!
9. Proper nutrition:
As you gradually begin to put muscle mass back on, make sure you are eating a healthy, balanced diet. This may mean getting away from the comfort foods you had in the quarantine like cookies and chips and moving towards some healthier options like fruits, vegetables and lean cuts of meat.
Getting back to the gym is something many of us have been looking forward to. We want to be safe, keep everyone around us safe and continue to make those gains we've been missing out on. So have fun with it! Just like with anything new, it will take a bit of time get use to. But with time and effort, working out in the new norm will become your new norm.