As we welcome the good news that many gyms are re-opening, we’re also wondering, “Is it safe to go back?”
And yet a robust physical activity and exercise program are critical for maintaining healthy lifestyle habits.
Though exercise has so many physical and emotional health benefits that include lowering stress and improving your mood, going to the gym in the midst of a global pandemic may pile on more stress than you’re willing to handle, quickly reversing those welcome benefits.
These are certainly challenging times for us all.
The question is – can we be active, fit and safe all at the same time?
I think we can. Here are some tips to guide you:
1 – Identify Risks and Risk Tolerance
It’s important to take into account where you live and the case counts in your area. If you live in a ‘hot spot’ where the cases are going up, going to the gym may be too risky.
You also need to take into consideration if your age or medical condition poses more risk for you. The same applies to the people you live with as going to the gym can potentially increase their risks as well.
We all want to follow tips to stay healthy, however, each one of us has a different comfort level regarding how much risk we can tolerate.
Only you know what feels right to you – and your QuaranTEAM.
If you’re unsure, reach out to your primary care provider to get his or her input on safety measures appropriate for you, given your age and health condition.
2 – Meet your ‘New’ Gym
Now’s the time to reach out to your gym to inquire about any safety measures they’ve put into place.
Whether you call the gym, email your personal trainer or view the company website, here are some questions to get answered:
-Are they limiting the number of people in the gym, courts, weight rooms, pool or in group classes?
-Do they have an on-line reservations and check-in system?
-Are they requiring staff and members to wear masks?
-What steps have they taken to help with social distancing, such as plexiglass barriers and closing of shared locker room space?
-What is their procedure for cleaning machines and equipment?
-Do they offer outdoor or virtual personal training or group classes?
Once you know your gym’s safety precautions, you can decide if the benefits of a gym workout outweigh the risks.
3 – Do It Your Way
Here’s where I encourage you to be assertive and devise a workout plan that feels right to you.
Here are some examples:
-You like the gym’s pool guidelines for limiting swimmers and decide to swim during designated times.
-Being an early riser, you feel comfortable using the machines first thing in the morning when the gym opens, with the caveat that you will re-evaluate your comfort level each time you go.
-You feel comfortable playing singles tennis but do resistance training at home instead of in the weight room.
-You try the outdoor group classes that you feel are the safest option.
-You don’t like the idea of wearing a mask while working out so you opt instead to stay with working out at home, walking outside or doing virtual workouts either online or with your personal trainer.
4 – Focus on Progress, Not Perfection
Pre-pandemic, you most likely had a workout routine that worked well and felt good.
Now as our country is re-opening after ‘shelter-in-place’ bans have lifted, we need to lower our expectations and know that it will be a while before this ‘new normal’ feels ‘normal’.
In the mean-time, as long as we can focus on re-defining and re-evaluating our workouts weekly and staying as active and safe as possible, I call this progress.
Stay safe and be well!
Robert Kushner, MD