Gyms reopening: what to expect once lockdown restrictions start to ease

After months of lockdown in the UK, it seems we’re keen to get back to the gym. But what will that look like?

According to Google trend data, the search term, when will gyms reopen? has received a 2,500% uplift in UK searches within the last two months alone (4 April 2020 – 6 June 2020).

As lockdown restrictions begin to ease, it seems like normality may be back on the horizon. For the first time in months, plans are being put in place to allow the UK to return to offices, commute on public transport, and socialise.  

However, as lockdown lifts, there are new realities to take into consideration. The logistics of several activities that contribute to the structure of our day may have to radically change for the foreseeable future.  

Gyms are arguably one of the top industries to be impacted by the restrictions put in place because of COVID-19. As the online fitness class arena has boomed for some, nothing compares to going to an actual gym.

A recent survey by Sport England found that the British public miss workouts at the gym more than any other sporting activity, and a huge 87% of us plan to hold onto our memberships post lockdown.

Sean McCoy, CEO at GearJunkie shares his expert opinion on what going to the gym will look like when they finally reopen. 

There will be big changes

There will be significant changes when gyms are allowed to reopen. Gyms can serve as the perfect environment for germs. In the US, places like climbing gyms are instituting rigorous measures to keep people safe, such as frequent sanitization, limiting capacity through reservation systems, and no-contact check-ins.

It seems likely that the UK will follow the lead of countries that are lifting their measures before earlier, so it can certainly gain some solid insight on what to expect.

A no changing room zone

As non-essential shops reopen across the UK, government guidelines require clothing stores to keep their changing facilities closed, and gyms may be asked to follow suit.

I suspect that many gyms will also close their changing rooms to encourage social distancing and disallow showers to avoid transmitting the virus through moisture. Many gyms feature showers that are not fully contained as they are open at the bottom. Essentially, water is passing through each cubicle and can cross contaminate surfaces.  

When possible, try and wash at home after a session. This may be problematic for people that are due to return to the office and like to use the gym before work however, it will safeguard you from COVID-19. 

Lockers may also be out of bounds as they can serve as a hotbed for bacteria and it may not be possible to sufficiently clean them after each use.  Of course, sharing your personal items at the gym should also be avoided. Towels, brushes, and most importantly water bottles all pass on viruses – as well as fungi, yeast and bacteria.

Some gyms may also feature signage that encourages members to wash their kit as much as possible – bacteria/viruses love humid places and can serve as the perfect environment to breed. An extra step is using a bag to hold your clothes and shoes inside your gym bag, as you want to contaminate as few items as possible.

Temperature checks at the door

By now, we are all familiar with the flu like symptoms of COVID-19. A high temperature is one of the most common, and it is for this reason that many gyms will require participants to have their temperature taken at the door.  

Many gyms will allocate staff to take the members temperature and some outlets will also require gym goers to sign a disclosure that ensures they have not experienced symptoms within the last two weeks.  

Regular cleaning and wipe downs

Anyone who attends the gym regularly knows that it is exercising 101 to wipe down your equipment after use, but things might be a bit different in after lockdown.

The days of simply wiping down equipment with paper towels is now a thing of the past. Maybe that was ok for getting rid top show moisture, but the current climate requires a deeper clean.

Bacteria and viruses can live on a surface outside the human body for several hours, it is essential that gym equipment is wiped down with universal cleaning products that have antibacterial and antiviral properties frequently.

I expect staff to be working in heavy rotation with anytime fitness Doncaster staffed hours, cleaning all surfaces to maintain a bacteria free environment, especially for high use areas such as pin pads, door handles and equipment. Of course, regular hand washing, covering faces when coughing, avoiding the touching of eyes, nose and mouth will all be enforced.

Fewer machines and more screens 

The implementation of social distancing is arguably one of the biggest changes to come from lockdown, and it will 100% stay in place when gyms reopen. This will impact the internal layout of the gym.  

Where possible, expect to see glass dividers in-between equipment, as well as a reduction in machines on the gym floor to reduce the number of gym goers. It is likely that they will ask members to stagger their visits and allocate times in order to avoid ques awaiting entry.

During the summer I also imagine there will be more of an emphasis on outdoor classes, partly for social distancing, but also for health reasons. A lot of exercises lower the rate of breathing, and with a mask on that is dangerous. Moving these activities outdoors would solve that issue, as well as create much needed space.

What can you do to stay safe?

If you want to stay safe them you need to be prepared. Make sure you always have face covering, antibacterial wipes, hand wash, and anything else that helps you wipe down the machines before use.

Change up your routine, too. Has working out at a park changed your approach to exercise? If it has and it works for you then stick with it – there’s no need rushing back to the gym if the safety of the local park is working for you and your programme.

And finally, it goes without saying that if you’re felling under the weather you should avoid gym activity. I know it’s hard to take a rest day when it’s not planned, but the last thing you would want to see at the gym is someone with a cold working out.

Photo by George Pagan III