What will the new normal be for gyms?
Wearing a mask while working out is the new normal.
What will the new normal be for gyms?
WELL-BEING - Mylene Mendoza-Dayrit (The Philippine Star) - June 16, 2020 - 12:00am

Regular exercise, adequate sleep, balanced nutrition, sufficient hydration and stress management are essentials to help boost one’s immunity system.

For three months, many of us continued our fitness journey at home with the help of online coaches, workout apps, videos and live group classes. Still, there are those looking for variety, social support, and personalized programs in brick-and-mortar gyms.

Many are waiting for the gyms to open, including the thousands of passionate fitness professionals who have guided gym members to a better physical version of themselves. But what safety measures and adjustments await gym members and staff?

In the US, more states are allowing gyms to open. California might allow gyms to open late June. Since several of the leading gyms here in the Philippines are part of international gym chains, expect that the parameters will be very similar for all.

• Health screening. Aside from the mandatory body temperature checks, staff and members who will use the gym would have to accomplish health screening forms. While some might find it cumbersome, it will be very helpful once contact tracing becomes necessary.

• Contactless entry and advanced booking. Different gyms have different platforms but all agree that signing in should be contactless. It might be through an APP or it might be online. Since gyms will be asked to operate at a maximum of 50-percent capacity, bigger gyms can accommodate more people at a given time. Advanced booking for gym time or a class will help manage traffic better. Some will not allow walk in members or maybe they just have to queue like in the banks or groceries. 

• Wear a mask and bring a towel. Since wearing a mask is a regulation here, then that will not be hard to implement. But now gyms will be stricter regarding having your own gym towel. Experts even advise bringing two towels. One to wipe your face and forehead with and one to use as a cover sheet for equipment and exercise mats. Oh, and by the way, you might have to bring an extra mask since your mask might be drenched in sweat.

• Always disinfect. Whether in the gym or anywhere in public, be a germaphobic. Keep on washing your hands or spray it with alcohol often. While gyms will surely provide shoe bath at the lobby and sanitation stations, it is always best to keep a small spray bottle of alcohol in your pocket.  The new normal gym etiquette should include wiping down the equipment you use with a disinfectant before and after use. You sanitize it before use just in case the person before you forgot to wipe it down after. Better safe than sorry.

• Bring a water bottle. Fill up your own water bottle with unlimited filtered water from the chilled water fountain but you will no longer be allowed to just drink water from the fountain. If you wish to be safer, it is also wise to bring your own yoga mat and boxing gloves.

• Create a space bubble. Apart from wearing a mask, social distancing is your best bet to avoid getting the virus. Wherever you are in public, maintain at least one meter distance but more is better. Expect the group studio, the turf and the rubber mats to be lined with grids to mark or carve out individual exercise spots. This is to help members visualize their space and help in the distancing efforts. Equipment will also be spaced out accordingly to make social distancing in the gym possible.

• Optional face shields and full-finger gloves. When I was first interviewed, I was admittedly for full finger gloves until I started wearing them. Eventually, studies explained that the use of gloves may not be necessary and in fact may lure the wearer into being careless because they feel protected. My opinion is to each his own. Gyms should monitor that the basic minimum required by government should be observed and that’s wear a mask, sanitize frequently and maintain the minimum one meter distance (although the US prescribes two meters).  If members or staff wish to wear face shields on top of their masks as well as don full finger gloves, then they may do so.

•Limited hours and amenities. Understandably, a service provider such as a gym still has to comply with local government regulations. Curfews, mandated lower utilization, staff rotation and so many factors will make gyms open gradually. That means we can not expect 100-percent efficiency, full service hours and complete amenities. Expect service breaks to allow periodic cleaning, sanitation and disinfection.

Navigating unchartered waters was never easy, but with everyone’s understanding and cooperation we will emerge stronger.

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Post me a note at mylene@goldsgym.com.ph or mylenedayrit@gmail.com.

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