Is It Safe to Go Back to the Gym Yet?

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Yes, but also no.

I’ve always been more of a solitary exerciser, so the closure of public gyms over the past year hasn’t especially bothered me. That being said, I know gyms are important for many folks; they tend to have higher-quality, better-kept equipment, not to mention the potentially motivating social aspect of working out in a public place. As vaccinations proliferate and state governments begin to lessen restrictions, gyms have begun to reopen. You’re probably wondering, then, if it’s safe to start attending them again. Well, “safe” is perhaps the wrong word.

The big problem with gyms, relative to the coronavirus, is that coronavirus spreads orally from droplets you exhale into the air. Now, where is there a lot of heavy exhaling going on? Yeah, a gym. Everyone, including you, is opening wide and breathing deep, making any gym a potential minefield of infection. The obvious solution is to wear a face mask, which you should be doing anyway, but the hiccup with that is A: wearing a mask can make it harder to take bigger, deeper breaths, which you need while exercising, and B: heavy breathing can make your mask moist, rendering it less effective.

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If you really have to work out in a gym, it’s gonna require some planning, both on your and the gym’s parts. Firstly, instead of just walking in and working out, try to keep your time in a gym strictly regimented. If you want a social workout, try to put a designated class full of people you know together. This way, you can more easily keep track of who’s coming and going. Make sure to exercise in a large, well-ventilated area, and try to keep as much space between you and your associates as possible. You’ll want more than the usual six feet if you can help it in order to mitigate that heavy breathing I mentioned.

In all honesty, it still isn’t a great time to work out in a public gym, so if you can help it, you’re still better off working out at home. If you’re having trouble keeping up yoru motivation at home, however, the gym can work, provided you put in the effort to stay safe.