By Diana Sanchez, Staff Writer
Photo by Geert Pieters on Unsplash
I love, love, love fitness classes. And gyms, for that matter. I’m competitive by nature, and being surrounded by people who are working out, really helps me to push myself and get the most out of my workout.
But COVID-19 has really changed all that. I no longer go to the gym or attend fitness classes, generally opting for at-home workouts instead. (Looking for a good at-home workout? Check out this blog.) As the country begins to open up more (contrary to experts’ recommendations) fitness classes may be available where you live.
But are they safe?
How does COVID-19 spread in fitness classes and gyms?
So much was unknown about COVID-19 when it first appeared, and gradually, we’ve been able to learn more and more about it. It can be frustrating to feel like you’re being given conflicting information, but as more experts agree on the same topics, you can feel confident the information is accurate and reliable.
We know now that COVID-19 spreads via respiratory droplets when an infected person coughs, sneezes, or talks. Exercisers tend to breathe harder in the middle of a workout, so they produce even more droplets as compared to a person who is not exercising. These droplets can remain airborne for up to 3 hours, and combine that with a warm, moist room and you have a very real risk of becoming infected. In fact, just recently almost 200 members of a Planet Fitness in West Virginia were asked to quarantine after being potentially infected by another member who tested positive.
Those that are infected are contagious prior to showing symptoms so it is very possible to be in the same room with someone who has no idea they have the virus. Infected people are most contagious the day before they show symptoms (as well as the day they show symptoms and the day immediately after).
Can taking precautionary measures help?
You might be wondering if social distancing, wearing masks, and washing your hands can increase your safety in gyms. The answer to that is: YES. Multiple studies and research have shown that all of those measures do help in decreasing the spread of the virus.
But do they help enough?
Is it safe to attend fitness classes (or the gym)?
Given the data we have and experts’ recommendations, no, gyms and fitness classes are not safe at this point in time. The truth is, there is no safer environment than working out at home or outdoors, away from others. Utilizing precautionary measures will always be helpful, but no precautionary measure will make the risks disappear entirely. The only way to do that is to play it safe and avoid risky situations as much as possible.
What workouts have you been doing at home? I’d love to hear from you!