Updated: Sep 18, 2020
We’ve seen some signs pointing to at least a little normalcy returning to our lives post COVID-19 with stay at home orders and restrictions expiring or being modified. While I fully concede things may be different and may never get quite back to the way they were before in some aspects, we can hopefully look for a return to working out in the same place as other humans! Yay! With a few changes or improvements, and being conscientious, I think we can go for it with minimal long term changes or disruptions.
Wiping down equipment has always been a “rule” at the gym but has often been treated more of a suggestion or loose requirement of patrons. Staff members also wipe it all down on intervals, but perhaps we can all pitch in and actually* wipe everything* down after each use. Stationary equipment and free weights at brick and mortar gyms will have to be included in that regimen of cleaning everything more completely and more often. Some gyms may also have to think about keeping people farther away from each other if space permits, or at least restricting the use of side by side machines or apparatus. Whether that means actually moving them apart if there’s room, roping off every other piece or closing off areas on a schedule, etc, there are some options to consider. So many places are adopting lines or boxes taped off on the floor so we may see a move toward doing your reps in your own designated spot. Independent fitness trainers also wipe down equipment with regularity but I think we can all agree this is something that should happen more thoroughly and without fail. Cleaning with good sanitizers every single time should be the norm.
As an extension of this spacing issue I’m sure attendance will be limited to keep fewer people within enclosed spaces. I also envision group class participants will be separated by that magical 6 feet, and will have their own set of equipment even for circuits. Many classes will move outdoors when possible. This may put a strain on independent providers like me, because that could mean a lot more equipment to purchase, house, and haul. If you are a participant in such classes, it may be a good idea to start thinking about buying your own set of dumbbells, bands, and a mat to limit the chance you’ll have to share anything. My love of sharing my favorite equipment (Dynamax balls and TRX straps) will be hardest hit. And perhaps the practice of hands-on form correction and guidance needs to move to strictly verbal cues, at least for a while. While outdoor workouts that are using proper spacing may not need to require (or even suggest) masks be worn, if they are conducted indoors or without a lot of extra space wearing masks may be a good option. This is especially true for high risk individuals, which I’ll address further in a bit.
The seemingly sudden realization by much of the population that people should be regularly washing their hands is perhaps one of the best silver linings moving forward. If you can’t wash your hands immediately, avoiding touching your face at all until you are able to wash is vital. It’s not easy. We touch our faces a lot...especially when we are told not to. You know I’m right. You’re thinking about touching your face right no, aren’t you? It will take an effort, I know this, but we can do it. And I say this as a allergy-ridden serial face-toucher.
If trainers or clients are or have been sick, it has become even more important than ever to stay home. If we become sick within 2 weeks of having spent time together, that information should be shared as soon as possible. If someone is sick with another known illness and even just with allergies...covering our coughs and sneezes can help keep everyone’s immune systems in good working order to fight off more serious problems.
If you happen to be part of an especially vulnerable population, it is very likely you’ll have to avoid being in these close proximity for some time, at least with larger groups or in physical buildings where a lot of clients come and go. In-home one-on-one sessions may be the best option if you're really missing your guided workouts. If everyone is symptom free and continues best practices elsewhere, the trainer coming to see you may be something you’re comfortable with. If that’s not the case, or in many other situations, let’s remember all the amazing technology we were already using but are more reliant on now. Zoom, FaceTime, Skype and Facebook Messenger (and more) are all platforms to connect face to face from far away. Even trainers who weren’t doing so before have become much more comfortable with that on-screen delivery. I have a feeling that will be a fixture in most fitness businesses going forward.
We are likely going to see a lot of changes in our workout habits and practices, but if we are all paying close attention I’m hopeful we can get our sweat on face to face more and more very soon!