As Ontario reopens most businesses and services in stage 3 and life slowly begins to return to normal, you may find you’re concerned about returning to your normal, pre-Covid-19 activities. Those activities might include heading back to the local pub for a pint, heading out to eat at your favourite restaurant, or returning to or rejoining your local gym.
While you may be feeling anxious about exposing yourself to the virus, or other germs, there are some simple things you can do to prevent infections at the gym, or really anywhere you are coming into closer contact with other people and common surfaces. Fungi, bacteria, and viruses can be spread from person to person but there are simple steps you can take to protect both yourself and others.
First it’s important to be aware of the most common communicable diseases that you may come into contact with at the gym. These include fungal infections like athlete’s foot or ring worm, viruses like the common cold, the flu, viral gastroenteritis, Covid-19, and HPV (think plantar warts), and bacterial infections like pink eye, staph or impetigo.
The good news is that protecting yourself from these infections is quite simple and prevention goes a long way. The first line of defence is deterrence. Simply put, skip the gym if you’re feeling sick or have any kind of rash or infection. Fitting in that one extra gym visit is simply not worth it and if we’re all mindful of the risks, it will significantly cut down the spread of disease. View that missed gym day as an extra rest day, or as an opportunity to cross train at home or outdoors.
The second step is to be a responsible gym-goer. Change into your gym shoes once inside the facility, avoid leaving sweaty gym clothes or towels on the floor or gym benches, throw garbage into the trash receptacles provided, wipe off surfaces and equipment after you touch them, wash and sanitize your hands frequently, avoid touching your face while working out, keep distance from other members or staff, and wear your mask while transitioning between exercises or gym areas.
The third way is to keep an open line of communication with gym staff and other members. Be respectful and polite, but read your member emails and and follow the gym rules and regulations implemented for your safety. Make sure to ask for clarification on any cleaning protocols or safety procedures if needed.
Look for signs of adherence to hygiene and cleaning practices, and notify staff if towels, hand sanitizer, or hygiene, cleaning or disinfecting supplies are running low. Also make sure to inform staff if you have any suggestions on how to improve current practices or have concerns about another gym-goer. Finally, if you feel sick or are being tested for covid-19, please inform the facility immediately so that staff can take the appropriate measures to prevent further spread.
The fourth line of defense is to BYOE and WUAY. The first acronym stands for Bring Your Own Everything….the fewer touchpoints the better. That means if you can, bring your own microfiber towel and spray bottle filled with gym-safe disinfectant spray (here’s a list of AFC and Health Canada Approved Disinfectants that are effective at eliminating Covid-19), bring your own mat, etc. The second acronym stands for Wipe Up After Yourself but really should be wiped up before and after yourself – that way you know you’re protected. Hopefully, this article eliminated a bit of anxiety for you and gave you some good tips on how to prepare for your next gym visit.
Remember, if you have any suggestions on how we can all protect ourselves better so we can stay healthy at the gym, email us!