A virologist reveals ways to avoid germs at the gym

With the number of coronavirus cases continuing to rise across the world, people are being encouraged to take extra measures to limit the likelihood of spreading germs at home, work, and on public transport.

When attempting to limit any unnecessary time spent in public places, gyms are no exception — in fact, given the sweaty environments and shared equipment, lots of fitness fans are feeling nervous to get their workouts in.

But there’s no reason to avoid the gym, Professor Jonathan Ball, a virologist from the University of Nottingham, explained.

Firstly, people are more spread out in gyms than they would be in, say, a busy subway carriage.

“There’s usually quite a bit of distance in the gym between you and the next person. There isn’t massive proximity,” Ball said.

Just because equipment is shared, it also doesn’t mean gyms are particular hot-beds for germ-spreading, according to Ball.

Also, when people are feeling ill, they’re unlikely to hit the gym even at the best of times — so changes are anyone who is feeling truly sick will stay home.

“The chances of somebody turning up to the gym feeling unwell isn’t high,” Ball said.

Many boutique fitness studios, such as London’s 1Rebel, 305 Fitness, Red Room studios are placing extra bottles of hand sanitizer around the busiest spots like changing room ,waiting areas, and increase deep cleanse practices.

There are various things you can do in the gym to help limit the spread of germs, according to Ball — but they’re really the same measures you should be taking everywhere.

“No matter where you go, just always be aware that any surface potentially could be contaminated with a virus,” he said.

A good starting point is limiting person-to-person contact. “Let’s swap high fives and handshakes for booty bumps for the time being,” 305 Fitness suggested.

Meanwhile, SolidCore told its members to tell instructors if they’d rather not be touched: “If you are not comfortable with hands-on adjustments or high-fives during this flu season, let your coach know before class,” it said in an email.

The Foundry emailed its members saying: “We ask that if you are currently feeling unwell with any flu-like symptoms, that you please DO NOT come to the studio until you have had the all-clear.

“If you need to suspend your account or change sessions for this reason please contact our guest services.”

SoulCycle is also honoring late cancellations, and London’s Flykick has told members they will be re-issued credit if they’re too ill to make a class.

A few other things to keep in mind:

Wipe down mats, weights, and machines with a disinfectant wipe both before and after using them.

Lay a towel down over a mat before lying down on it yourself.
It may be obvious, but washing your hands thoroughly before and after working out is the most effective thing you can do — and if you cough or sneeze, do so again.

If you do have to cough, try and catch it in a tissue, your shirt, or the crease of your elbow.

Avoid touching your nose, mouth, and eyes.

Ultimately, though, you don’t need to feel put off working out as a result of the coronavirus — but taking extra precautions can’t hurt.

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