The ongoing SARS-CoV-2 pandemic is reshaping everything around us including the local and global economy, how businesses operate, the way schools will provide education to students, the means of how people move around and go to work, modes of transportation, and even how people will exercise. While no one will dispute the need for physical exercise to help boost the immune system, some restrictions had to be made to prevent the unintended spread of the virus in gyms and other fitness or sports facilities. In fact, many gyms have felt the financial crunch of not having members come in due to the lock down. There is hope, however, that once restrictions are lifted more and more gym members will resume their workouts and business will gradually return to normal. But clearly, even this early, fitness buffs and the every-so-often joiner in exercise classes need to get ready for a new normal in fitness routines.
The Sanitized Gym
The first thing fitness practitioners might notice when they finally get to go back to their gym is the entrance. Gone is the old glass and aluminum doors that you push or pull to gain access. If you go to a world-class facility, the entrance will most likely feature a self-opening, self-closing glass panel door similar to what industry leader Carona Group provides for top malls and commercial centers, supermarkets, hospitals, science laboratories, and offices, to name a few. The doors to the gym would likely be replaced with corrosion-resistant panels that can be fully washed with water and industrial detergent without risk of rust or any other damage.
Most importantly, the top gyms like F45, Snap Fitness, or Jetts would surely benefit from having those types of automatic doors since the members and staff need not touch anything to enter or exit the facility. This greatly reduces surface contact and possible passing of bacteria and viruses. The actual layout of gym equipment would have to be changed as well so that barbell and dumb bell racks, treadmills, leg exercise machines, and other contraptions would not be too close to each other, as a result, preventing the proximity between and among gym members who are using the facility.
The Not-So-Personal Trainer
Once the fitness centers resume operations, some expected changes may include the mandatory wearing of face masks and even face shields. The centers may even have to hire additional staff to focus on the sanitation of workout equipment since most items inside the gym are shared by all members and are hand-held or touched during the exercise routine. The fitness coach may also have to continue observing physical distancing of at least two or three meters away from a client. This would have to be prepared for especially by weight-lifters who need a spotter close by for certain movements like a barbell bench press or barbell squats. In the case of dance classes such as Zumba, more space might be needed or the center might put a cap on the number of participants per session so that physical distancing will be observed strictly.
New Ways of Doing Contact Sports
Other fitness programs or sports that involve close contact might need new protocols. For example, judo and Brazilian jujitsu are close contact sports that place two players in very near proximity, due to the nature of these sports. Coaches of these contact sports might also require the use of face masks but the very physical nature of these activities would not allow players to observe physical distancing.
At present, the most accessible and safe platform for physical exercise is the ones that are held online. There are now many online gyms, fitness coaches, and classes that are conducted using Zoom and other video-conferencing platforms. These programs became popular midway into the lock down because gym buffs and fitness enthusiasts needed to go back to their routine and, at the same time, these fitness coaches needed to revive their livelihood.
The advantage of these online fitness programs is the ease that people can start the program. They need not go out of their homes since the gym was virtually brought to their own living room or bedroom. It affords the gym buff the opportunity to exercise while remaining safe at home, and the same goes for the fitness instructor. What may be missing in this set-up is the camaraderie, friendship, and exchange of fitness ideas or routines with fellow gym mates when they exercise live and on-site at the fitness center. Indeed, the new normal is transforming how and where people exercise. But as long as people understand and place value on their health and fitness, they will keep finding ways to stay fit inside the gym or online.