For many people, gyms have been closed for over four months. Many, such as myself, have been itching to get back to weight training.
But going back to the weight room may pose several risks if one isn’t careful. Even for those who’ve contracted COVID-19 – these tips will be helpful by helping to not spread it.
Gyms (regardless of size) are environments where the virus is easily communicable. This is generally due to the enclosed nature of most training facilities and the fact that people have elevated levels of oxygen consumption in these environments.
Meaning: lots of droplets in an enclosed space.
But by being smart about training in a gym, you might be able to do so safely inside your apartment complex. Let’s get started.
Understand the Risks of Going to The Gym During COVID-19
We’ve touched briefly on it, but we need to revisit them for better clarity.
The risks associated with going to the gym are going to be as follows:
- Enclosed spaces
- More droplets in the air than normal
- People are generally closer to each other (b/c of space restraints)
- Gyms are germy, by nature
Because gyms can be grounds where the virus is easily transferred – you need to be extra careful.
Many apartment complex gyms will have posters and different techniques in place to try to minimize the possibility of the aforementioned scenarios. But you also need to take extra precautions yourself.
- Wear a mask (even if not required)
- Disinfect (always)
- Keep your distance (even if not enforced)
- Avoid “spotting”
- Avoid the busiest hours
These are all generally helpful tips that should allow you to have productive sessions in the gym while minimizing your risk of infection or transmission.
If you understand the risks of going to your local apartment complex gym & you’re taking the necessary precautions to avoid the virus: there shouldn’t be a reason for you not to be able to enjoy your workouts.
Let’s go over the most practical & effective ways to minimize any risk of infection while at the gym.
Disinfect Yourself & Surrounding Area
In most athletic facilities, there are disinfectants and wipes all around to maintain a certain degree of sanitation.
However, most people have never paid enough attention to the correct ways of disinfecting the surrounding equipment.
It’s terribly important to read the label on the disinfectant. Many of them will say to wait at least a minute before using. Rarely is this advisory note practiced.
During this era, it’s in your best interest to familiarize yourself with the instructions per product.
Some require as much as ten minutes and double disinfecting before use!
But the wait is well worth it.
Bring Your Own Water Bottle & Towel
I suppose this one might be self-evident, but it’s important to mention, also.
Bringing your own water bottle not only keeps you away from commonly shared equipment (like water dispensers) – but it’s also one less factor about gym attendance that you need to worry about.
The same goes for towels: yes, most apartment complex gyms will offer them – but during these times, it’s best to bring your own personal sanitary items.
Wear Your Mask
What masks do best is help to fight the spread of the coronavirus, however, there may be some people who might feel more comfortable in a gym environment by wearing the clothing article.
The general consensus being that if people are wearing masks, and stay outside of a six feet range from each other; then the spread of the virus can be much better maintained than if the scenario wasn’t so.
Even if other people around you aren’t following these practices, it’s sometimes best to leave by example.
Which leads us to the next point:
Social Distancing Techniques Inside Your Apartment Complex Gym
With all of the research that’s been conducted to minimize exposure to and /or transmission of the virus, the most agreed to measure that’s been widely promulgated has been social distancing.
The less you come in contact with other people, the better off you’ll be – in general.
Here are some good practice tips for ensuring that you’re minimizing your exposure to other people, while maintaining your gym sessions productive.
Consciously Keep Your Six Feet of Distance
This should go without saying but maintaining your distance is going to be the most critical.
Avoid “packed” areas, or areas that are commonly used in your apartment complex facility.
For example, the dumbbell racks, the free weights section, and the bench sections are among the most crowded areas of the gym.
People FLOOD to these parts & it’s generally going to be the most difficult to maintain a fair degree of distance here.
If your workout program REQUIRES the use of these, I would most likely pick set weights (so that you don’t have to use a ton of dumbbells).
I would also try to stick with barbells. Why?
Because with barbells, you’re using the same instrument throughout the duration of the workout.
Whereas, if you’d be doing dumbbells & having to switch weights to adjust to the exercise, you’d have a higher chance of exposure.
Not just from having to use so many different instruments, but also the constant back & forth walking.
Instead, try using barbells & looking for programs online that are dedicated to barbell strength training. The advantage is that you’re going to be using the same piece of equipment throughout the training & simply switching the weights on and off.
You are also free to bring the barbell to a spot that’s more isolated, and do all of your training while being distanced.
In my opinion, barbells offer far more flexibility in this kind of scenario. But it’s not everyone’s preferred method of training.
Aerobic Machines & Cardio sections
Often the most popular section of any training facility, the cardiovascular sections are going to be the most problematic.
The primary purpose of these machines being to elevate your heart rate, the necessity for increased pulmonary activity makes these areas have higher droplets in circulation.
This means higher chances of you being infected. Even while wearing a mask & practicing social distancing.
Cardio machines in most gyms tend to be very close to each other, and even if management has only allowed more spaced use of them – it’s very difficult to contain people’s heaving breathing and the resulting droplets in the air.
Add on to that ventilation & the enclosed spaces.
During these times, it’s best practice to go outside and do your aerobic activity outdoors.
Instead of walking on a treadmill, find a park and do some laps.
For HIIT — try doing wind sprints or cone drills. There are all kinds of cool jump rope exercises and tutorials.
There are follow-along videos on the internet that you can try for LISS or even HIIT training.
While this is a guide on going back to the gym during COVID – there are certain areas in the gym that should just be avoided at all times. This is one of them.
In theory, it would be fine if the gym was completely empty & you thoroughly cleaned your machine. If that’s the case, go for it, as the risk in this scenario would be minimized.
Avoid Group Classes
By this point, this should seem self-evident.
Most group training classes not only are conducted with a significant amount of people, but they are also commonly held in tightly packed rooms.
This not only goes for spinning classes but also other types of classes such as boot camps or other group training environments. It’s much easier for the coach to handle the class while everyone is close & within speaking distance.
This type of proximity in enclosed areas presents various challenges from a transmission standpoint.
In addition to that, most group classes also focus largely on cardiovascular exercises (since they are the most popular), and in turn create a similar environment as the aerobic machines section
In all – it’s best to avoid these. Completely.
In short, when attending your apartment complex gyms, there are a few things that you need to keep in mind to avoid the COVID-19 virus as best as possible.
The first one is understanding the risks involved when going to the gym. Knowing that gyms are inherently places where viruses (in general) are easily transmitted. Which means that when attending a gym, you have to be even more attentive to things like social distancing, sanitation, disinfecting, and avoiding certain areas.
Once you make the decision to go, you’re going to want to follow best practices for making sure you’re not putting yourself or the people around you at risk.
- Disinfecting (& following instructions on the disinfectants as closely as possible – making sure to do it multiple times before use)
- Wearing a mask (this ensures that other people, and to some extent yourself, don’t infect or get infected by others)
- Bringing Your Own Water Bottle & Towel
- Avoiding the Busiest Hours (or days)
There’s also practicing social distancing in an effective manner. Although it is challenging to do it in an enclosed space, by being more deliberate, you may be able to accomplish doing so.
You can take into account the following practices:
- Consciously Keeping Your Six Feet of Distance (just generally being mindful of being a little “on your own”)
- Avoiding the Busiest Areas (such as the free weights & dumbbell racks)
- Using Barbell-Based Exercises (to avoid having to jump around machines or dumbbells & increasing your exposure)
- Try Not to Use Aerobic Machines/Areas (in today’s world, it’s far better from a risk management perspective)
- Do Your Cardio Outside (to emphasize that prior point)
- Avoid Group Classes (for obvious reasons)
So, taking all of this into consideration will ensure that you are able to maintain and active & challenging lifestyle without putting you, your loved ones, or the people around you at risk.
Most of all: remember that you are in the gym to improve your health; and if there’s anything that could potentially negate those effects, it would be best to avoid it momentarily.
However, if your apartment complex gyms have an environment where the aforementioned practices can allow you to train safely & without worry:
Then go ahead & crush it!