November 17, 2020 12:30:09 pm
As part of the unlock guidelines, the government has allowed the opening of gymnasiums in non-containment zones with all COVID-19 precautions in place. However, as of now, there is low footfall at gyms as compared to pre-COVID times. “Sixty per cent members are coming. Mostly girls are not coming. Before COVID, the ratio of girls was 35 per cent but post-COVID, only 15 per cent girls are coming,” said Vikram Singh, owner, Peak Fitness Gym, Safdarjung Enclave and Chhattarpur.
According to the government’s Standard Operating Procedure (SOP), it is mandatory for gym-goers to wear face masks inside the gym while maintaining at least six feet distance from each other. Persons above 65 years of age, those with co-morbidities, pregnant women and children below the age of 10 years are, meanwhile, advised not to use gyms in closed spaces.
Lucky Valecha, popularly known as ‘fitness’ banker owing to his passion for fitness, has been going to the Armstrong Gym in Ahmedabad for more than two months now, in the 8-9 pm slot every day. “All the equipment in the gym are sanitised after every use throughout the day. At present, those coming to the gym are the ones who were regular earlier and generally have better immunity. I feel much safer to work out in the gym,” said the banker.
Digital creator and freelance photographer Dimple Mangal began going to the gym in Mumbai from November 2, when it reopened,, and has taken the last slot of 10-11 pm. “Since it is an odd time, there are just a few people and two trainers. From sanitisation to checking the temperature as soon as we enter the gym, all norms are being followed. Face shields are compulsory while working out. They also sanitise the entire gym every day after it closes,” said Mangal, while adding that everyone now gets their own water bottles, and yoga mats.
So, what are the protocols that gyms are following?
“Gyms have launched a batch system, admitting one person per 100 square feet, which means 20 members in a 2,000 square feet gym floor) at any given point in time. This allows proper distancing between members. Distancing between service providers and customers is actually way better than most other businesses that have been allowed to open, given that a personal trainer can surely train his client maintaining a six-feet distance,” said Kaizzad Farrokh Capadia, director of a fitness academy, K11 Education Pvt Ltd.
Besides following standard guidelines, fitness centre chains like Cult.Fit has also put in additional protocols. Naresh Krishnaswamy, its growth and marketing head, says, “We started opening our centres in Bengaluru, Hyderabad and Gurgaon in September and tested our safety protocols. After seeing positive response from our members and on-ground teams, we opened our centres in several other cities like Vishakapatnam, Ahmedabad, Mangalore, Jaipur, Coimbatore, Indore, Chandigarh, Jammu, Mysore, Ludhiana, Kochi and Amritsar in October. In the coming weeks, we are also re-opening some of our centres in Mumbai and Pune following the same stringent Cult CARES measures we have been adhering to.” The Cult CARES protocol comprises: C – Controlled access; A – Allotted workstations with sanitised equipment; R – Replacing common touch-points with touchless set-ups; E – Extensive sanitisation; S – Social distancing at all times.
Fitness professionals like Dr Mickey Mehta, a global leading holistic health guru, have, however, questioned whether it is yet safe to hit the gym. “It certainly won’t be safe to work out without masks and it is not advisable to work out with them. It is a dilemma because lack of oxygen and any kind of intensive exercises with masks can throw you off gear,” he tells indianexpress.com.
While one can switch to visors while working out, it is not advisable as they do not provide 100 per cent safety. To circumvent the concerns about breathing difficulty while wearing a mask, Capadia says, “All members are strictly asked to wear face masks; they can drop the masks during exertion of doing an exercise, to just below the nostrils. Between sets, they can slide up the mask, once they regain near-normal breathing. This is done to ensure that the individual does not inhale the carbon dioxide that they have just exhaled. Masks are also kept in stock, for members who may have forgotten to carry.”
Mehta says lack of accountability is a major concern. “Sweat droplets over gym machines could lead to someone contracting the infection. In such cases, whose responsibility is it — the owner’s, the management’s or gym members’?”
Shiv Rajvanshi of Hammer Gym in Delhi, who has been going to the gym for a month now, says the decision is eventually of the individual. “The gym gets sanitised twice a day before we enter. There is also reasonable distance being maintained,” he says, adding he carries his own hand sanitiser and sprays it on the machines before using them.
Dr Anita Mathew, infectious disease specialist, Fortis Hospital, Mulund shares some tips.
*Do not share your gym supplies: Your towels, mats, gloves, water bottles and sanitisers are strictly for your personal use. Do not pass these around in general.
*Opt-out of other facilities: Avoid using the showers at the gym, also give your massage sessions a pass.
*Sanitise: Wash your hands with soap and water, or sanitise your hands before getting into your car, handling your keys, or using any other non-gym item
*Don’t hang out: Stick to your gym time and don’t hang back to chat with your friends. It is also avoidable to crowd near the gym’s juice stall
*Wash up: After you return home, have a hot water shower; your gym clothes, gloves and towels are to be washed separately.
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