Tag Archives: gym

Getting Back To The Gym

COVID-19 is something none of us will ever forget. It’s had an impact on every facet of our lives. My industry particularly took a big hit despite the fact that exercise and staying healthy is one of the top combatants to this dreadful pandemic. Facilities big and small were forced to close doors temporarily or worse, permanently, leaving consumers lost and looking for fitness alternatives. The good news is that within the past six months some facilities have reopened albeit limited to offerings and capacity. Now that we are about a year into this nightmare, there is a light at the end of the tunnel and “normalcy”, whatever that may be, will be returning. So if going to the gym is your thing, rest assured, you’ll be going back shortly if you haven’t already. Here are some tips to think about when heading back to the gym.

Understand The Inherent Risks

When weighing your options, it is important to consider both the risks associated with exercising at an indoor gym and steps you can take to keep yourself safe. The recommendation by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is to maintain social distancing of at least six feet from other individuals to avoid inhalation of virus-containing respiratory droplets. When someone is exercising, they breathe with more force than while at rest. Therefore, heavier breathing during exercise can result in an increased concentration of air droplets traveling farther, thus increasing the risk for COVID-19 transmission. While many fitness facilities are following guidelines by spacing out equipment and encouraging social distancing, you may find yourself in a situation where another member decides to exercise on the cardio machine next to you or several members are having a conversation right next to where you are completing your set of bench presses. Even with limits to facility numbers, weight rooms and cardio areas can get crowded, making it more difficult to maintain social distancing throughout the facility. Some fitness and wellness centers may not have ventilation systems that can adequately remove viral droplets and particles from the air, thus increasing members’ risk of infection, especially in smaller indoor spaces. With regards to using shared fitness equipment, even though COVID-19 is most commonly spread through close contact with an individual who has the virus, it is possible to become infected by touching a contaminated surface and then touching your mouth, nose or eyes. Therefore, using shared equipment such as weight and cardio machines, mats, or dumbbells that are not cleaned before and after each use may increase your risk for COVID-19.

One Day, One Step At a Time

  • Choose a gym where you feel comfortable and safe: Fitness and wellness facilities must follow state guidelines; however, some may take more precautions than others, such as implementing additional temperature and symptom assessments, cleaning and mask-wearing protocols and limited fitness class sizes. Therefore, visit a few different facilities and join the one where you will feel safe and comfortable to exercise. 
  • It may be beneficial to choose a facility that also offers online personal training, virtual fitness classes, and/or outdoor classes so that you can create a weekly exercise routine that includes workouts that take place at the gym, outside and at home to limit the number of times per week that you are exercising at an indoor gym. 
  • Wear a mask that covers your mouth and nose while exercising: Although it may be uncomfortable to exercise with a mask, it can help keep you and others safe from COVID-19. Also, a recent study found that heart rate, blood pressure, respiratory rate and oxygen saturation were not adversely impacted in healthy individuals who performed aerobic exercise while wearing a mask.
  • Remember to maintain social distancing of at least 6 feet to avoid close contact with other facility members or employees. Work out in areas of the gym that are less crowded and avoid attending the gym during peak hours.
  • Bring your own equipment. When possible, bring your own equipment such as mats, dumbbells or bands to use during your workout or when attending fitness classes.
  • Bring your own water bottle. Some fitness facilities may not allow access to water fountains. Therefore, bring your own water bottle to make sure you have safe access to water.
  • Clean each piece of equipment before and after you use it, and avoid touching your mouth, nose and eyes throughout your workout.
  • Wash your hands before and immediately after your workout with soap and water.
  • Limit indoor high-intensity exercise. When possible, perform high-intensity activities outdoors. If performing high-intensity exercise indoors, increase distance.

Bottom line: the precautions to protect yourself from a COVID infection are the exact same precautions one should use to prevent infections from the flu. With a conscientious and consistent effort, we can all bring an end to this madness. Beginning or maintaining an exercise routine is paramount for both physical and mental health and it is especially important during this health crisis. Make sure you choose a place and format that will best support your health-related goals and level of comfort for safely starting or returning to an active lifestyle.

Til next time, train smart, eat well, and be better.

Navigating the Fitness Jungle

Jungle-personal-training-phuketIt’s the most wonderful time of the year! I’m not speaking of the holidays which have just passed. I’m talking about the fitness industry’s most wonderful time of the year when the masses jump on health club memberships and fitness programs in the hopes that this year will be different. Like clockwork it happens every time at this time of year and the industry is counting on it, all to the dismay however of the regulars who keep their fitness membership active throughout the year. A parody video went viral recently about the phenomenon of the “newbies” (aka resolutioners) abruptly entering the hallowed grounds of the gyms where the regulars take exception, albeit jokingly, to sharing their workspace. While there’s humor to be found in it, it does create a sort of cloud of uncomfortableness and frustration on both sides (a whole fitness franchise was built on this phenomenon) that isn’t necessary and is counterproductive to the common goal of fitness. As someone who has spent a great deal of my life in gyms and health clubs of all types, I’m here to provide a map of sorts to both sides to getting along and striving to reach unprecedented goals together.

To The Newbies:

  • Congratulations on your commitment to start a new. You will find that there are many more just like you who are entering the gym for the very first time or for the first time in a long while.
  • Get familiar with what’s available to you. Most health clubs/gyms give what I call the “museum tour” pointing out things that you may or may not know how they can help you. If there was an introductory lesson offered, take it, even if it seems remedial. (If you drive and just bought a new car, you would want to be showed all the features and how they work, wouldn’t you?)
  • If working with a personal trainer is available, use it, even if it means paying a few extra dollars. Fitness is not a thing to do for a few short weeks. It is a lifestyle and mentality. Learn the basics first from a qualified professional before you start deciding on how much you think you know how and what to do.
  • Don’t try to do too much at first. Easier said than done but trying to do it all at once will 100% of the time lead to burn out, possibly injury, and a negative perception of exercise – all of which could have been a factor in your past.
  • Practice gym etiquette, which is just a fancy way of saying be a decent human being. Treat others as you want to be treated and leave the equipment the way you would want to find it for your use.
  • Learn to share, not hog, equipment. Don’t sit on a piece of equipment that you’re not using for a single rep. If you need a rest, get up and move away or find a place to sit that’s not part of any exercise routine. It is a gym by the way. The goal is to move.
  • Get involved with a group, whether it be a class or a program but beware the instructor who is only in it for their own benefit. Trust me; you’ll recognize who they are right away.
  • There’s no need for a “judgement free zone”. Newsflash: most of the people working out are into their workout and could care less about what you’re doing. There’s no need to form a low opinion of yourself. You’re here and still doing more than the person who’s still sitting at home.
  • Don’t be afraid to hold your head up, smile, say hello, etc. I’ve seen many friendships, relationships, even marriages form from being social with those surrounding you with common goals. Make the gym/health club an extended family of sorts.
  • Leave your phone in your locker, or better yet in your car. If you can’t put aside the time to exercise for yourself (emergency reasons excluded) it’s going to a short and frustrating journey or a long and fruitless one. The gym is where you work out, not work

To The Regulars:

  • I know the gym is more crowded than usual and you’re already looking forward to that second week in February when it normally falls back but let me remind you – you may have been one of those newbies at one time. Welcome them, and help them out if you can. Be a mentor or role model.
  • Don’t judge a book by its cover. No one knows the walk that person has taken but they’re here now. Be an inspiration and/or encourage them to embrace the journey.
  • Proper gym etiquette applies to you too. Don’t be that guy/girl that others learn to despise, new or old. This is everyone’s gym. Use it the way you expect it to be used and shared by others.
  • Don’t be so unidimensional. You’re the experienced one. Space a little crowded for your chest day? Don’t tell me you don’t have a hundred other exercises to utilize that same muscle group a different way! Perhaps you might benefit from working with a qualified professional. Real growth comes from change.
  • Same as with the newbies. Leave your phone in your locker, or better yet in your car. The gym is where you work out, not work or hold photo sessions.

The gym/health club is not a mythical place. It’s a real, live place where real, live people can gather and work towards their individual fitness goals together. Like a community, it will only be as strong as its weakest link.


Til next time, train smart, eat well, and be better.