Should You Go To The Gym During The COVID-19 Pandemic?

Woman sweaty from a workout

As the coronavirus (COVID 19) spread across the globe and throughout the country, Australians are being encouraged to practice social distancing and better hygiene.

But what about the gym? There are things you can do to protect yourself and others.

For those who aren’t self-isolating, many are questioning which places are safe to attend and what practices they should be implementing to reduce their risk of contracting the virus.

With gyms and fitness centres synonymous with sweat and germs, we should be quesitoning whether the gym is safe – so here’s what you need to know at this stage.

Chief Medical Officer Brendan Murphy addressed the gym concern on ABC’s Insiders, highlighting that Australians don’t need to avoid going to the gym yet.

“I think the gym is fine, but everybody needs to practice good hygiene,” he said.

Chief Medical Officer Brendan Murphy

“If you’re going to the gym, I would be very focused on hand-washing using hand sanitisers. All of those social distancing and good hygiene measures,” he continued.

“We want everybody in the community to start practising those and to start thinking about how we will practice social distancing moving forward.”

It comes as no surprise that weights and fitness equipment carry a lot of bacteria given the amount of sweat and contact, they receive on a daily basis. In fact, a 2016 study found that treadmills alone had 74 times more bacteria than water faucets and free weights contained 362 times more bacteria than a toilet seat.

Infographic about germs in gyms
How do gym’s bacteria levels compare to other items?

With this in mind, gyms and boutique fitness studios are doing their part to ensure surfaces and equipment are clean and safe for use, with many including chains such as Fitness First and F45 implementing longer cleaning times between classes and stronger disinfectants.

Many studios and gyms have also increased the amount of hand sanitisers and disinfectant wipes available to their members and are encouraging members to wipe down benches and surfaces themselves before using them.  

Despite gyms being categorised as relatively low risk, some boutique studios and gyms have decided to close down altogether, while some members are choosing to forgo their gym routine and workout from home instead.

With many fitness apps and at-home workouts available online, this is a great way and an alternative to stay fit and active, especially if you find yourself in isolation.

However, if you aren’t prepared to give up your Pilates class or leg day just yet, what else can you do to stay safe at the gym?

Women sitting on the floor of a workout class
Tips for staying safe at the gym during the Coronavirus Pandemic
  1. Aside from wiping down equipment, it is essential to bring or rent your own towel. Many gyms already have a ‘no towel, no train’ policy, but this is even more vital now. Place your towel down on any bench you are using (after wiping it down with a disinfectant wipe) or on to of a yoga mat, to help protect yourself and the person using it after you.

2. Bring your own yoga mat to the gym to use during classes or any kind of floor workout. That way, you can be sure of its cleanliness and don’t have to rely on the gym’s cleaning procedures.

3. If you enjoy a sweaty boxing class, it might be advisable to purchase your own gloves, or at least your own glove inners, which you can wash and disinfect yourself – the last thing you want is to have to put your hands into wet gloves that somebody else has sweated in.

4. Finally, in an interview with the ABC, Australian physician and journalist Dr. Norman Swan advised Australians to avoid Saunas and steam rooms, explaining that “nobody knows” the exact impact of heat and steam on the coronavirus right now.

Tara Mckenzie

Like many of Bondi Beauty's readers, Tara has two main passions; health and beauty. As a group fitness instructor you'll either find her dripping in sweat during a HIIT class or with a full face of bronze makeup. If you meet Tara in person be prepared to act excited as she tells you all about your star sign and why you should start carrying a rose quartz around in your purse.

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