Everything getting back to normal in the age of Coronavirus is a bit like trying to get an old car in gear. Things will stutter along and may stall from time to time, but it feels like you’re on the right road.
One of the weirdest shifts to happen this year came in the fitness world, namely for people who would frequent the gym. I’m based in the UK, and from March to September, the majority of gyms and leisure centres were shut down completely. For most people, that’s six months without being able to go near a squat rack, take part in a spin class, or do circuits. Six months of not hovering around to get on a machine once someone finishes their sets. And six months of making eyes at anyone who dares get to lift a dumbbell you were just about to use.
In such a short space of time, we’ve gone from being fine subbing in and out using exercise machines with strangers, to using sanitiser every time we enter a building. And with gyms slowly starting to re-open, be it with reduced hours or limited capacity, it’s perfectly fine to be a little precautious when it comes to staying safe and hygienic in a space designed to get as sweaty as possible.
So, what can someone do when starting to exercise in the gym again to ensure they feel comfortable while doing anything from running laps to lifting weight? Here are some tips and products you should put in practice.
Always Assume You Need To Clean
Every gym has those people who, when finished with dumbbells or using a bench, won’t be a nice person who re-racks and wipes down after themselves. And even now when it’s encouraged, some gym-goers will still have a little ego and not clean up due to bad habits.
When you come into the gym and get ready to use weights or a machine, even if you haven’t seen anyone use it, assume it needs wiping down. Any good gym will have sanitising stations so you can do it easily. I have seen more people in my gym wearing workout gloves when using dumbbells but would suggest that you use wipes where you can.
I’ve also seen a lifehack style tip from another user which is just too good not to pass on. Tape a small hand sanitiser to your water bottle, so you’ll always have something at hand to sanitise with.
The Hat/Jumper Marker
This was a tip I generally used all the time in the gym, and now that most places have their changing rooms closed off, it makes it easy to follow. When working out at a bench, or any little area you have marked for yourself in the gym, leave a personal item like a hat or jumper on the ground.
It’s a simple way of showing is actively in the area and stops someone from nipping in or assuming you’re abandoning the station when you might just be going to get water or take a quick rest.
Oh, and speaking of water! If you’re reading this in anticipation of hitting the gym again, and you would usually use the water fountain, there’s almost a 100% chance your gym will have it blocked off (people placing hands and mouths around a tap all day is a big no-no), so take a bottle of water with you.
Don’t Wear A Mask! (but still do)
Now before you think I’m about to go off on a completely insane tangent, don’t worry, there won’t be one mention of any conspiracy theories in this article; unless you want to chat about my theory that Crème Eggs are definitely smaller than they used to be.
While most gyms are ok with you not wearing a mask, you might feel safer if you can. If you already fidget around with yours while out shopping, you’re going to hate trying to keep the mask’s bands in place in the middle of a set. Plus, masks quickly feel awkward around the mouth when you’re sweating or on the treadmill (although as the British Heart Foundation points out, there is still no research on spreading Coronavirus from running which has been “peer-reviewed or published in a scientific journal”).
I’ve found that opting for multi-sleeve tubes, more commonly known as snoods, is a much better option. They can be easily pulled up and down, fit nicer over the nose when you’re doing more explosive exercises, and can be thrown in the washing machine for a quick spin along with the rest of your gym gear. I recommend getting two or three snoods for the gym, especially if you break a sweat easily.
Time is of the essence
This last tip is dedicated to all those people who you spot spending well over an hour at the gym and checking their phones constantly (if you don’t notice them, then you could be one!).
Many gyms will put a time limit on how long you can be in there. Now it isn’t strictly enforced, and I haven’t seen gym staff walking around asking people how much time they have left, but it is nice to stick with your allotted time so others can use the gym as intended.
This truncated period has resulted in me actively keeping an eye on how much time I have to get a workout in and has seen me have a “get in – get out” mentality. That means no unnecessary glances at Instagram stories between sets or replying to messages. I’ve even started setting two timers which tell me when I have 15 and 5 minutes left. And without getting all Bro-science over here, working out smarter and not harder, will see how you view your time in the gym in a whole new light.
Give it a go, and you’ll soon see yourself not wanting to waste time when working out.
Now get to it!
Thanks for reading this article, and I hope that easing back into your new and improved gym routine, works in your favour.