The pandemic has uprooted the world as we know it; from daily chores and how we exist to our physical and social dynamics with each other, there has been a massive transformation in our lives. The fitness industry has not been spared either. The pandemic caused many fitness centres to shut down, and many took to home workouts to keep themselves going. Runners missed their races, weight-lifters missed their weights, athletes missed their outdoor training sessions – the Covid-19 pandemic made everyone uncomfortable. Thankfully many gyms and fitness studios shifted to online classes, while some froze memberships. Many gyms launched their own apps too! Nationwide campaigns such as the Fit India Movement helped build awareness and information about the importance of looking after one’s health during a time like this. This, in turn, made wellness a priority in the government’s Make In India program.
The preventive measures of social distancing, washing your hands and wearing a mask while stepping out are habits that are here to stay. Is it possible for gyms to open their doors while following strict measures such as regular sanitation, limited number of members, masks, open ventilation, etc?
The new guidelines state that fitness centres are now allowed to open and function at minimal capacity. What happens once the world opens up? How do we get back to working out the old-fashioned way? Will it be safe?
Since gyms are enclosed spaces with little to no ventilation, they aren’t exactly the safest place for large crowds. Gym owners have had to change up the way their establishment functions from the ground up. Limited members per time slot, constant sanitation and strict hygiene standards, constant temperature checks and wearing a mask have now become the topmost priorities. While it’s possible to foresee gyms opening up and still being in business, things won’t be going back to the way they were for quite a while, and that’s something all of us will have to make peace with.
At the fitness studios, there are some practical ways in which safety can be ensured:
● Increase space between machines.
● Limit the number of people working out at one time.
● Make reservations mandatory.
● Keep a gap of 30mins after every class in order to sanitize the space.
● Avoid using AC; keeping the windows open will help in ventilation.
● Place alcohol-based sanitizers around the space.
● Limit the machines available for use.
● Encourage members to wear gloves, and bring their own yoga mats, towels and water bottles.
● Masks should be made mandatory for all employees.
● Ask members for travel history and health conditions.
● Set up a sanitisation station if possible.
● Install ultraviolet lighting in the air-conditioning systems to filter out additional bacteria.
● Using a mask while working out is not recommended. Members can opt for a visor instead.
● If possible, utilise outdoor space at the facility.
● Steam and sauna centres should remain shut.
While gyms and fitness studios across the country are taking these measures, a large percentage of the population still prefer working out at home. Many may have bought gym equipment at home, and don’t see themselves going back to the gym anytime soon. For them, many fitness centres are continuing with their online classes. In fact, we feel virtual workouts will become an essential service offering for many fitness businesses post-lockdown.