A recent study suggests gyms are not likely to spread Covid, and now suddenly gyms in England could be open ‘within weeks’. That’s from no less an authority than Boris Johnson, who is the Prime Minister of the UK. Speaking on LBC to Nick Ferrari – for our American readers: yes, that is a real person and not a porn name – the blond PM answered the question, ‘Why are pubs able to open but not gyms?’ by immediately declaring that gyms would reopen very very soon in a very real sense.
Admittedly, this did sound a little off-the-cuff, as some of the Prime Minister’s pronouncements sometimes do. And it will only apply to England, due to the devolved nature of how the outbreak and lockdown have been handled. But let’s take Johnson – who was spotted a few weeks ago doing an impromptu calisthenics workout for beginners – at his word. Our question, however, is will you actually want to go back to the gym?
The lockdown hasn’t been easy for anyone, but it has been particularly difficult for gym-goers due to all the gym closures. However, those who want to get fit and stay fit are increasingly finding that the best home workout – as well as outdoor exercise – is a more than adequate replacement for the sweat palaces they used to love so much.
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Admittedly, the rush to create home gyms means there has been shortages of the Best home gym equipment, but there are still places to buy weights online – retailers with deals on kettlebells, dumbbells, multi-gyms and weights benches. You can also buy treadmills online and other workout machines.
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Whether it’s in ‘a couple of weeks’ or a matter of months – as looks to be the case in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland for a start – gyms will definitely reopen at some point. A lot of people, however, are now realising they don’t necessarily need a gym to stay in shape. Although admittedly, it helps.
When will gyms reopen?
This will vary a lot around the world, but in the UK, gyms will be among the last businesses to reopen. There is no possibility of it happening before July 4 – the date set for hairdressers and the beauty industry – and even then gyms reopening is described by officials as ‘an ambition’ as opposed to something with any set deadlines attached to it. Indeed, it may be ‘significantly later’.
The development of a vaccine would certainly help make gyms safe places to visit but they are unlikely to be available before 2021, and a number of experts are of the opinion there may never be a vaccine.
So, somewhere between July 4 and never, then.
What prevents gyms from reopening?
You can perform a variety of workouts in gyms, from cardio sessions on an exercise bike or rowing machine, to a full body workout in the free weights area. This variety of workout possibilities, in a large and busy space, is why people love commercial gyms.
Unfortunately, it is the very thing that prevents them from reopening now, as large and busy spaces full of people in close proximity are currently a bit of a no-no.
When gyms eventually re-open, they will have bigger spaces between machines, weight benches and so on, and possibly screens between them as well.
However, that won’t stop people going from one machine to another – that is pretty much the point of gyms.
These same people also sweat, cough and touch their faces all the time, making gyms a bit of a hotbed for spreading germs, even in non-pandemic times. It is widely assumed COVID-19 spreads primarily through cough droplets, but we can’t rule out other means of spreading the infection.
As we mentioned in our gym etiquette 101 article, it is advisable to wipe equipment down before and after using it. The pads on most machines are anything but clean, because many gym-goers don’t adhere to the basic principles of hygiene. This is partially due to the lack of sanitising options on the gym floor but even if there were multiple hand- and equipment-sanitising stations available, this wouldn’t necessarily make people use.
Until there is a way to make sure that A) people can and will distance themselves from each other at all times and B) equipment can be kept clean in between uses, there is no chance of gyms reopening. So gyms will have to let in fewer people at a time. Will people accept queuing and not cancel their memberships? As noted, benches, machines and other equipment would need more regular cleaning, which would also make running some gyms more expensive.
More expensive, exclusive gym chains may be able to absorb these costs but users of more affordable gyms may have to adapt to going at less traditionally busy times, waiting longer, being kicked out quicker, or just seeing their gym go out of business as this proves impossible to adapt to.
So anyway, some gyms will certainly reopen, eventually. When they do, everyone will have to be more mindful about their personal hygiene, and it’s likely to be less convenient and more expensive.
Until then, you’re better off working out at home or in the nearest park, complying to social distancing rules of course. Perhaps it might also turn out to be better for you – and cheaper – in the long run as well.
How to work out outside the gym
There are plenty of ways to stay fit outside the confined walls of the gym. You can take up running or cycling if you would like to improve your endurance and boost metabolism. HIIT workouts are great for fat burning and even improving strength, especially if you decide to do any of the following workouts: