Is It OK to Return to the Gym During COVID-19? What You Need to Know to Stay Safe

May 27, 2020 - 7 minutes read

You’ve been diligently washing your hands, social distancing and wearing your PPE to the grocery store for the past few months, but you’re starting to get curious about venturing out a little further. With restaurants, hair salons and physios opening back up amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, you’re beginning to wonder about the logistics of getting back to the gym.

To help you answer some of your burning questions, we’ve been working alongside WorkSafeBC, the leading body for industry safety in BC during COVID-19, to determine what it is you should know about your gym or studio before deciding whether or not it’s safe to head back in for your workouts.

Is it safe to go back to the gym during COVID-19?

As much as we’d love to provide a clear-cut “yes” or “no” to this question, it’s unfortunately a little more complicated than that.

With gyms having a high potential to house lots of different germs, and gym-goers each experiencing their own level of risk during this pandemic, the answer is going to depend on what your gym or studio is doing to ensure the health and safety of its members as well as where you personally fall on the readiness-to-return spectrum.

What should I look for from my gym to see if it’s safe to return?

Before you plan on heading back into your gym or studio, take a look at the updated policies they’re putting in place to help keep you safe during their return-to-business stages. Ask yourself the following questions to get a clear picture of their COVID-19 reopening plan:

1. Have they publicly shared the most update-to-date version of their reopening plan?
2. Have they clearly laid out their cleaning policies?
3. Have they limited their facility capacity and implemented a system of social distancing?
4. Have they removed any drop-in options and shifted to a reservation-only approach?
5. Have they indicated their notification policy if someone at the gym contracts COVID-19?

These are just a few of the items that gym owners need to be implementing if they want to re-open so if you answered “no” to any of the above questions, reach out to your gym to see what their plan is for ensuring health and safety within that realm. If they don’t have an answer, hold off on heading back until they put a sufficient plan in place to address the issue.

To see our updated health and safety policies, view our Alive & Well COVID-19 Reopening Plan.

What other factors should I consider to determine whether or not I should go back to the gym?

As important as it is to understand what your gym or studio is doing to keep you safe, it’s just as crucial to be clear on where you fall on two different spectrums:

1. Do you have any conditions that put you in the “At-Risk” category?
2. Do you feel at all uncomfortable heading back into the gym for any reason?

For the questions above, any “yes” responses should be considered a strong nudge to put a pause on your plans to get back into the gym at this point in time. Just as gyms have a responsibility to provide you with the safest experience possible, you have a personal responsibility to make sure that you’re making a decision that’s right for you and your health concerns.

Is there any case where I should absolutely not return to the gym?

While the situations above give you some choice as to whether or not you want to return to your gym, the following questions give you some indication as to whether or not you can return:

1. Have you been feeling sick or experiencing any symptoms related to COVID-19?
2. Have you tested positive for COVID-19 or come into contact with someone who has?
3. Have you returned from travelling within the last 14 days or been in contact with someone who has?

If you answered “yes” to any of the above, do not return to your gym or studio at this time. Be sure to follow government guidelines and self-isolate at home until it is deemed safe for you to break your quarantine.

How to stay safe in the gym

If your gym has been taking all the necessary precautions and you’re ready for a return to your in-studio workouts, here are a few final tips to consider implementing to stay as safe and healthy as possible while you’re in the gym environment:

1. Always wash your hands upon entry and before leaving the space
2. Avoid touching your face and mouth throughout the workout
3. Limit your use of washrooms and other high-traffic areas in the facility
4. Sanitize the equipment before and after using it
5. Ask for space if you feel that social distancing is not being maintained

Alternate options for staying active during COVID-19

Not sure that heading back into the gym is the right choice for you just yet? Don’t let that stop you from finding other ways to stay healthy and active at home.

Some great options to try in this “new normal” might include: kitting out your space with at-home fitness equipment, using household items to spice up your at-home workouts, or reaching out for support to get started with an online personal training program.