Many gyms are providing extra disinfectant wipes, telling members they can request not to be touched, and waiving late cancellation fees.
- There's no need to avoid the gym if you're worried about the spread of coronavirus, virologist Jonathan Ball told Insider.
- However, this guidance varies from country to country, and if you do go, it's worth taking the same precautionary measures you should be taking everywhere.
- Most gyms are providing extra disinfectant products, some fitness studios have told members they can request not to be touched, and others have waived late cancellation fees if you're ill.
- An increasing number of gyms and fitness studios have now closed.
- Fitness fans who are still working out in public places can take extra measures such as avoiding high-fives, wiping down all equipment before and after use, and catching coughs and sneezes.
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With the number of coronavirus cases continuing to rise across the world, people are being encouraged to take extra measures to limit the likelihood of spreading germs at home, work, and on public transport.
When attempting to limit any unnecessary time spent in public places, gyms are no exception — in fact, given the sweaty environments and shared equipment, lots of fitness fans are feeling nervous to get their workouts in.
Official guidance varies from country to country, but if your gym is still open, you don't necessarily need to avoid it, Professor Jonathan Ball, a virologist from the University of Nottingham, explained to Insider.
You don't need to avoid the gym, according to a virologist
Firstly, people are more spread out in gyms than they would be in, say, a busy subway carriage.
"There's usually quite a bit of distance in the gym between you and the next person. There isn't massive proximity," Ball said.
Just because equipment is shared, it also doesn't mean gyms are particular hot-beds for germ-spreading, according to Ball.
Also, when people are feeling ill, they're unlikely to hit the gym even at the best of times — so changes are anyone who is feeling truly sick will stay home.
"The chances of somebody turning up to the gym feeling unwell isn't high," Ball said.
Gyms are still introducing cautionary measures
Still, in a bid to assuage fears people have around going to the gym or a group workout class, many gyms have sent their members emails offering advice and explaining what they're doing to manage the situation.
In an email sent to an Insider staffer, Barry's Bootcamp, for example, said it is "adding antibacterial wipe dispensers in every Red Room [Barry's studios], additional hand sanitizer stations at every front desk and in the locker rooms, and are ensuring that our team take important precautions against the spread of germs."
Barry's UK later made the decision to close its studios, and it's one of a growing number to have done so.
Meanwhile, 305 Fitness sent an email saying it was "significantly increasing deep cleans at our studios."
Many boutique fitness studios, such as London's 1Rebel, are also placing extra bottles of hand sanitizer around the busiest spots like changing rooms and waiting areas.
Other gyms, such as the Foundry in London, have placed extra cleaning wipes in studios.
Although most group fitness studios don't want to see a reduction in footfall, some are offering more lenient cancellation policies to ensure no one feels pressured to come.
"Give us a call if you're not feeling well," 305 Fitness told its members. "We'll be extra flexible in returning class credits and waiving late cancellation/no-show fees."
Similarly, the Foundry emailed its members saying: "We ask that if you are currently feeling unwell with any flu-like symptoms, that you please DO NOT come to the studio until you have had the all-clear.
"If you need to suspend your account or change sessions for this reason please contact our guest services."
SoulCycle is also honoring late cancellations, and London's Flykick has told members they will be re-issued credit if they're too ill to make a class.
If you're still worried, there are things you can do to help prevent the spread of germs
There are various things you can do in the gym to help limit the spread of germs, according to Ball — but they're really the same measures you should be taking everywhere.
"No matter where you go, just always be aware that any surface potentially could be contaminated with a virus," he said.
A good starting point is limiting person-to-person contact. "Let's swap high fives and handshakes for booty bumps for the time being," 305 Fitness suggested.
Meanwhile, SolidCore told its members to tell instructors if they'd rather not be touched: "If you are not comfortable with hands-on adjustments or high-fives during this flu season, let your coach know before class," it said in an email.
A few other things to keep in mind:
- Wipe down mats, weights, and machines with a disinfectant wipe both before and after using them.
- Lay a towel down over a mat before lying down on it yourself.
- It may be obvious, but washing your hands thoroughly before and after working out is the most effective thing you can do — and if you cough or sneeze, do so again.
- If you do have to cough, try and catch it in a tissue, your shirt, or the crease of your elbow.
- Avoid touching your nose, mouth, and eyes.
Ultimately, though, you don't need to feel put off working out as a result of the coronavirus — but taking extra precautions can't hurt.