Most of us have experienced a great deal of disruption to our fitness routines over the last few months. With gyms, fitness studios, parks and recreation centers closed, many of the sports and workouts we were used to became suddenly unavailable.

If you’re like me, you’ve struggled with a lack of motivation after losing all of that structure. Now that businesses are beginning to re-open with social distancing and extra sanitation in place, how do we safely resume our activities? Here are things to consider.

Age & Overall Health

Seniors and people who are immune-compromised aren’t recommended to return to gyms or group exercise classes yet. If you have been using online Zoom workouts or YouTube videos, try to continue those workouts. Many trainers and fitness instructors will continue to produce online content for the foreseeable future.

If you’ve been going outside to exercise (walking, biking, hiking, etc.), continue to do so with social distancing. Be aware that many parks and trails are becoming more crowded, so make sure you will be able to maintain your physical distance. If a certain area is packed, you may want to look for somewhere less crowded.

Wearing Masks

There is tremendous debate over wearing a mask, especially while exercising. Many gyms are now requiring that their members wear one. It’s very likely that respiratory droplets will travel further during physical exertion, meaning the potential to infect others nearby is higher, especially indoors.

At the same time, the wearer must be able to breathe comfortably, get enough oxygen and not overheat while wearing it. You will need to take into consideration the requirements of the facility and the county at the current time, and whether you feel safe going there.

Indoor vs. Outdoor

Can the workout be taken outside? Air circulation appears to reduce the chance of exposure to the virus, so if the facility can create more ventilation through opening windows and doors, or taking the workout outside altogether, it may help to increase safety. Minimizing the amount of time you are close to others reduces the risk as well.

Facility Size

Smaller gyms and studios will have less traffic going in and out. Although larger gyms are limiting attendance and emphasizing cleaning, this is easier to do in a smaller space. However, make sure there is ample space available for social distancing if there will be multiple participants, as in group exercise classes.

Cleaning & Sanitation

Does the facility have procedures in place for regular sanitation as well as social distancing? Do they have touchless check-in and payment procedures? Is the staff required to wear masks? Are there posted procedures that follow government guidelines? Ask questions when you go or check online before you go if you’re unsure.

Personal Trainers

A trainer who is working in a space with just one or two clients at a time will allow for better distancing and lower risk of infection. Many personal trainers will be willing to take your workout outside on nice days, either at their facility or by making a house call. They can even help you work out in your own backyard. Don’t be afraid to ask! Most trainers are willing to go above and beyond to accommodate new and returning clients.

Be Safe

Take your time resuming your routine. If you were much more sedentary during quarantine (no shame in that, most of us were), be sure that you gradually resume your intensity and workload each week so that you don’t end up injured.

Don’t forget to stretch your muscles daily and make an extra focus to stay hydrated, especially with the warmer weather.

In summary, keep yourself and your family safe as we begin to open businesses and recreation and fitness centers back up.

Quarantine has been hard on our mental and physical health, but as much as we want to get back to normal, we have to exercise patience and realize that it’s still going to take some time, and normal now is still going to mean taking extra precautions.

Cheers to your good health and fitness!

Lori Vance

Body Image Fitness, LLC

503.351.6476