It seems like everybody is ready to get back to normal life, whatever that new normal will look like.
Let me preface with a word of caution – everyone is free to make their own choices, and I hope you make the choice that is safe for you – and all the people you interact with. Wear a mask to mitigate risk. Don’t hit the gym if you’re feeling sick.
With that said, I feel like there is about to be a seismic shift in the building blocks of the fitness industry.
Some detriments of the old gym setting:
- High potential for contamination via touch. As a dude who spent time in the gym, I’ll be the first to complain people never clean their equipment itself. You will see people wipe down the benches, the cardio equipment, but I honestly can’t remember if I ever saw someone wipe down a barbell.
- At the same time, the ones who would do the minimal and wipe down their bench/equipment, never followed proper cleaning procedure. It would usually be a quick wipe with a moist towel. Gyms are not equipped to hire the number of people it would take to keep it clean. And high effort areas of the gym are going to be littered with inadvertent spit and sweat.
- The harder you work, the more potential there is for virus to spread. Walk into any gym and notice how compact the cardio section feels. With the tightly packed space, with people working at various intensities, there is an obvious potential for machines and surrounding equipment to become contaminated via heavy, labored breathing.
- Group classes are just a bad idea. Although I think there is a potential for that to be filled online or via more strict scheduling procedures, instead of drop-in. But that may also hinder the gyms availability to make group classes viable in their business model.
Fitness companies are going to have to find an answer for these issues. The care of equipment is obviously a big issue, as is working out with people in a confined space without much airflow.
There has been some positivity in the group setting. With groups of 5 people or less, South Korea saw no new cases of covid in the small classes they ran. Same goes for the smaller group classes that were in the lower intensity category (yoga, pilates), although there was no mention of the size of those classes.
So as we all transition back to normal life, keep these things in mind – attend small classes first as there is more ability for your instructors to keep it safe. Find lower intensity classes and search for a facility that doesn’t pack people on top of people.
I think there is a gym model that will capture and excel in the next few years to improve upon the pitfalls of the old gym model.
Personally, I’m going to abstain from the big gym life for a while. Boutique and smaller gyms with a more controlled environment are iffy from my end, but it seems like the less foot traffic, the better. Keep in small groups and respect your neighbors enough to practice social distancing!
As a reference, here’s a link to some stuff that happened in South Korea…
Peace like Geese,