- As government and health organisations work to contain the spread of the coronavirus, many gyms, fitness studios and sports clubs are being forced to shut down.
- In New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut, state governors have mandated that all gyms shut down starting at 8 p.m. March 16.
- Other cities and states have followed suit with various shutdown measures for all non-essential businesses.
- To continue offering services and earning a living, some personal trainers and organisations are transitioning to virtual workouts or other creative at-home exercise strategies.
- Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.
As the novel coronavirus makes it way across nearly all 50 states, city and state governments are implement drastic social distancing measures – many are now mandating closures of all non-essential businesses, including gyms, fitness studios and sports clubs.
Thus far, New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut have ordered gyms to close for the foreseeable future at 8 p.m., Monday, March 16.
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced the shutdown in a media call Monday morning, Business Insider previously reported. Shortly before the announcement, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio was spotted at his local YMCA in Brooklyn, prompting some criticism.
Bars and restaurants have been limited to take-out only in Midwestern states like Ohio and Illinois, but it’s not clear if gyms will remain open in those areas.
In the interim, here’s how various gyms and personal trainers are handling the shutdown.
Gyms and personal trainers are adapting with virtual workouts using minimal equipment
Amidst the need for social distancing, and the uncertainty about when things might go back to normal, many fitness professionals are transitioning to virtual workouts and personal training via video calls, according to personal trainer Bryan Goldberg, who also works as a consultant for a gym in New York City.
Noam Tamir, founder and CEO of TS Fitness, said his gym is also moving content online with virtual group workouts, one-on-one personal training via Skype, free workout suggestions on social media, and a fitness app.
Other personal trainers, including Instagram fitness influencers, have begun offering their online programming for free or at a reduced cost during quarantine.
Many big-box gyms have announced in member emails that they’re also encouraging members to take advantage of fitness classes online – Crunch and Planet Fitness have both gone this route, with the latter making its classes available online even to non-members free of charge.
Nationwide chain Gold’s Gym recently announced temporary closures of their locations until March 31, but are offering free premium access to their proprietary fitness app to the public.
You might be healthy enough to risk germs for a workout, but avoiding the gym helps protect more vulnerable people
Although any public place can prevent an infection risks, gyms tend to be full of high-touch surfaces that people are contacting with all parts of their sweaty bodies, making a good environment for germs to flourish, according to Miryam Wahrman, a biology professor at William Paterson University and the author of “The Hand Book: Surviving in a Germ-Filled World.”
“Any surfaces touched in the course of a workout can be repositories of germs. And germs love moisture, so sweat covered surfaces can easily retain and transfer from one person to another,” Wahrman told Business Insider via email.
The actual level of risk depends a lot on the cleanliness and hygiene practices of specific gyms, she added – all gyms offer disinfectant equipment, but depend on patrons to use them properly and regularly to keep themselves and equipment clean.
“The term “gym” can refer to tiny storefront workout rooms, or massive warehouse-sized health centres … So the risk can likewise be widely divergent,” Wahrman said.
Proper gym safety, especially now, would mean wiping down all surfaces you touch before and after use. For social distancing, you’d need to keep a minimum of six feet between people, Wahrman added, which can be tricky in fitness classes or on stationary equipment like treadmills.
Wahrman noted that people who are immunocompromised and the elderly are at particular risk.
Goldberg said he’s been staying out of the gym not (only) to protect himself, but to keep the virus from spreading to more vulnerable people.
“We know now how vulnerable certain populations are despite most people experiencing mild or no symptoms. It’s no longer about me and how this virus may affect me,” he said. “It’s about my mother and stepfather who are in their late 60’s and 70’s, respectively. It’s about my grandmother who lives with them.”
He explained that going to a public gym is a non-essential and therefore avoidable risk, particularly since there are plenty of ways to get a good workout at home in the meantime.
“It’s not that I think the gym is any more risky than going to the supermarket. It’s that shopping for groceries is a necessity. Going to the gym is not,” Goldberg said. “You CAN work out at home for a bit of time and lose very little progress, if any.”
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