What Gyms Will Look Like When They Reopen After Lockdown
The COVID-19 pandemic has laid down some challenges for the fitness industry as gyms and health clubs have had to shutdown as part of the lockdown. This has given rise to home gyms, virtual workouts and outdoor exercise with the government allowing for unlimited exercise.
However gyms and health clubs are hopeful of opening their doors up again pretty soon and as soon as July. This goes against reports a few months ago that gyms and leisure facilities wouldn’t open till autumn because scientists found gyms to he a “hotbed” for viruses and infections spreading.
UK Active have also revealed a 4 step reopening framework to ensure members that their gyms and leisure centres will be safe as well as convince the government and local authorities to give them the green light to open.
As a fitness instructor myself I thought it would make sense for me to discuss what gyms will look like once they return:
Increase In Cleaning And Use Of PPE
Cleaning and hygiene standards are going to be significantly higher and stricter than pre-covid. Expect wipe down of equipment and machines to be more frequent from staff. Hand sanitisers and wipes will most likely be available at cleaning stations for members to clean otherwise members will be encouraged to bring their own. Staff will probably have to do deep cleaning sessions more often after the gyms shut.
It’s possible that wearing a face mask may be a compulsory for gym members and staff for the foreseeable future. Although that could provide a challenge for members when working out as having a mask on would make breathing more difficult. Fitness instructors like myself and other staff may find ourselves doing more cleaning than instructing.
Fewer Equipment And Machines In Use
Much like it was in many gyms before lockdown, you can expect equipment and cardio machines like treadmills and exercise bikes to be reduced in availability. Some gyms will be doing some rearranging of their furniture. This will help gyms adhere to social distancing guidelines of keeping 2m from individuals
Pure Gym have revealed what their gyms will look like post lockdown, with marked training zones, social distancing floor markers. Images of the revised layout at their gym branch in Edinburgh is below:
Image Credit: Pure Gym
Pre-Booked Training Times + Reduced Opening Hours
Members may have to book time slots for their gym sessions. The number of people allowed in the gym at one time may be capped at a certain number much like you see in all shops and supermarkets. Opening hours will possibly be altered with gyms closing earlier or opening up later then usual. The gym I work at originally had the intention doing this but didn’t have the opportunity to do so as we went into lockdown. This could be in order to allow time for deep cleaning of gyms after closing and/or before opening.
It would also make sense with not many people expected to return and from a economical point of view having a gym open at times and having people would be bad for business. This is the last thing they need, especially franchise/budget gyms, knowing they’re in a state of recovery during what is a deep recession.
Changing Rooms, Toilet And Shower Facilities All Closed
Changing rooms, toilet and shower facilities may remain closed. They tend to be the places where the majority of viruses and bacteria linger so I don’t see them being opened up to the public straight away, especially. It would be the logical thing if training times are staggered because individuals can spend varying amounts of time in those facilities. Gyms that have opened abroad have engaged in this practice. Whether the UK follows suit we’ll just have to wait and see.
Limited Number Of Group Exercise Classes
Group classes may be drastically capped in numbers at the very least in order to adhere to social distancing guidelines. HIIT-style classes such as Bootcamp, Spin/Group Cycle and Circuits will be impacted the most. If any classes that are most certain to go ahead it’ll be the less intense, sweat-inducing ones such as Yoga and Pilates.
So what will gyms look like after lockdown? Well Gym life as we knew it is going to be a completely different ball game. I think in some ways they’ll pick up where they left off right before lockdown: classes not running, fewer equipment available, greater emphasis on cleaning. They’ll definitely be much quieter as people may be willing to take a risk initially. Gyms will certainly be closely scrutinised by the government. They will be keeping a close eye to see if there’s a spike of COVID-19 cases in conjunction with gyms and leisure facilities as part of the predicted second wave.
I personally don’t expect a flurry of people to come rushing back into gyms. People would still be sceptical about the safety of as much as gyms can convince them otherwise. Some of these restrictions may be of an inconvenience to people and may put them off from visiting for a while. Besides with so many people enjoying home workouts and outdoor exercise, would the appeal of going to the gym be as much? People may also want to save their money they would otherwise have spent on a gym membership.
For the hardcore fitness freak however this will be a compromise they’re going to have to make if they want to come back into the gym. I personally can’t wait to get back into it and get working out with some familar equipment. It’s gonna be awesome seeing old faces again and catching up.
All of this is just a bit of knowledge and experience I have of the current situation along my personal thoughts. What are your thoughts on what gyms will look like when they reopen after lockdown? Are you looking forward to gyms reopening?