Health Clubs During Coronavirus: What Exercisers and Gyms Need to Do

The headlines are rampant with news about coronavirus (COVID-19), and uncertainty about the illness has led to unease. One place where people commonly gather is the health club. We reached out to Dr. Lynn T. Matthews, a professor at the University of Alabama-Birmingham School of Medicine and a certified infectious disease physician, to find out what fitness facility managers and exercisers can and should do to help limit the spread of COVID-19. Below are the recommendations provided by Dr. Matthews.

Facility Managers

Health club owners and managers can do few things to inform exercisers about ways to help prevent the spread of illness. This type of knowledge, and access to adequate cleaning supplies, benefits the general public.

  • Post signs that folks who are sick (fever with or without cough, sore throat, shortness of breath) should not be at the gym and should call their doctor for current practices regarding testing and possible quarantine or self-isolation procedures to slow the spread to those who will suffer most (elderly, immunocompromised).
  • Increase supplies of tissues and alcohol-based sanitizer around the gym.
  • Bleach for cleaning common areas. 
  • Consider posting signs about sneezing into tissues or upper arm and not the hands.
Exercisers

Many of the preventive suggestions offered by Dr. Matthews are procedures that exercisers should be doing every time that they go the gym. Hand washing and using disinfecting wipes should be standard procedure at all times.

  • Wash hands thoroughly before and after working out — 20 seconds with soap.
  • Use the disinfecting wipes provided by the gym to wipe down equipment before and after use.
  • Postpone your workout if you’re feeling sick (see above).
  • Keep current about COVID-19 news at the website of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).  
  • This may be a good time to engage in social distancing and augmenting your gym routine with outdoor and/or home workouts.

“This epidemic is evolving — the CDC has up-to-date information and local health departments are great sources of information,” said Dr. Matthews. “There is also a lot of misinformation out there so be careful with how you process information on this topic. Don’t panic. Keep exercising, but also note that you should avoid public spaces if you are not well or may have been exposed - for your health and that of your community.”