In March, it was announced that the UK's 7,000 gyms had to close in order to prevent the spread of coronavirus, meaning that we've all had to adapt our fitness routines, following online classes, using household items as equipment and spending increased time getting our heart rates up with local outdoor walks.
While there's plenty you can do to keep yourself fit and well during lockdown, it's fair to say many people are looking forward to getting back into gyms for regular workouts in an environment made for just that.
Wondering when gyms are set to reopen in the UK, and what workouts may look like when they do? Here's everything you need to know...
When will gyms reopen?
In Northern Ireland, indoor gyms are already reopening, while in Wales, a time frame hasn't been yet given for the opening of such facilities. In Scotland, indoor gyms won't open until after 31 July.
Oliver Dowden, Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, announced that in England, indoor gyms, swimming pools and sports facilities can reopen from 25 July.
Richard Darwin, CEO at the UK's second largest gym group, The Gym Group Plc, said: “We are delighted we can reopen on Saturday 25 July. Reopening gyms is an important step forward for the physical and mental wellbeing of our members and millions of other gym goers, and we can’t wait to welcome them all back. We are really confident our new procedures will ensure that we can operate safely, with distanced equipment, enhanced cleaning and our busyness tracker to help manage the number of people in the gym.”
From 25th July the following can reopen safely:— Oliver Dowden (@OliverDowden) July 9, 2020
- Indoor Gyms
- Fitness and Dance Studios
- Leisure Centres
- Indoor Swimming Pools (outdoor on 11th July) pic.twitter.com/n9LpJmRwjR
Huw Edwards, the chief executive of UK Active (a not-for-profit organisation which represents thousands of gyms and leisure centres) has called the announcement a "relief" while urging Chancellor Rishi Sunak to provide financial and regulatory support to help the sector.
The reopening date in England for @_ukactive members is a relief. The health & fitness sector will now help the fight against Covid-19 and this health crisis. But we will need help & @RishiSunak needs to provide the financial & regulatory support package essential to aid recovery— Huw Edwards (@Huw75) July 10, 2020
The news comes will be very much welcomed by gyms which run purely from indoors. Previously, gym chain David Lloyd had opened its outdoor areas for exercise at selected clubs, and explained how it's been following government guidelines to keep clients safe.
"As we open our clubs we will be making the most of our vast outdoor spaces to provide you with a wide choice of activities to enjoy and stay active," the club said.
The following facilities are currently available at selected David Lloyd clubs:
- Outdoor group exercise classes with individual workout zones ensuring people can exercise in their own space.
- Open air Cycling Studio (outdoor)
- Yoga and Pilates (outdoor)
- Tennis (outdoor)
(Class sizes will adhere to social distancing regulations).
How will gyms change when they reopen?
David Lloyd's strategy to move as many classes as possible outside is something we can likely expect to see from other gyms with outdoor space available.
David Lloyd's website explains other steps the club is taking, including the creation of workout areas of 3m x 3m to give members the space to safely enjoy a workout, as well as limiting the amount of people able to take part in group classes, reducing the amount of people allowed in an area at any one time and using signage including floor markings to encourage everyone to stay 2m apart. The club has also installed plastic screens at reception desks and sanitation stations.
Expect to see all gyms creating distance between gym equipment stations, as David Lloyd has outlined, to ensure social distancing is carried out safely.
Various gyms have outlined plans to take the temperatures of customers on arrival, including Equinox, which announced in an Instagram post that it will turn anyone away with a reading 38° or higher.
Gym chain PureGym has released information about what its facilities will look like when they re-open.
Stephen Rowe, CMO of PureGym, said: “We’ve been incredibly busy in the past few months redefining our cleaning and safety standards so that our members can return to the gym knowing that they can work out as safely as possible. We will be implementing a number of changes, but will also need our members to play their part too – by wiping down their equipment, only coming to the gym if they feel well, and using the hand sanitiser available. The safety of our members and staff is a top priority, and we will be constantly reviewing the guidelines to ensure they are appropriate.”
The changes outlined by PureGym include:
Keeping a safe distance in the gym - Where there are lines of machines, such as treadmills and cross trainers, every other machine will be out of use so that a good distance can be maintained from other gym-goers. Boxes will be marked out within the floor space, so that gym-goers can clearly see where they are to stay within whilst they exercise.
To ensure social distancing is possible, PureGym will also be limiting the number of people in the gym at one time. The PureGym app will give visibility of how busy a gym is at given time, so that you can check beforehand and avoid queues. To limit the contact members have with each other, working out closely in pairs or groups and ‘spotting’ will be prohibited.
Higher standards of cleanliness - A new cleaning policy will also be introduced that involves both staff and gym-goers taking responsibility for cleaning the equipment. Staff will clean kit and surfaces throughout the day and all staff will be fully trained on our new cleaning and safety measures to ensure these are delivered to the highest standard. Gyms will also be deep cleaned every night with high-grade anti-viral disinfectant.
Gym-goers will need to wipe down equipment and machines both before and after use. Self-cleaning stations that contain anti-viral cleaning wipes have been installed throughout the gym to provide everything needed to do this easily and conveniently.
Contact-less entrance introduced - Contactless entry with PureGym’s new app or keyfobs will make members’ visits safer and easier, with QR scanners installed in all gyms, as an alternative to the keypad system. Hand sanitising stations will also be at the entrance to the gym, and gym-goers will be asked to use these before they enter. These hand sanitising stations will also be present around the gym.
Speaking more generally, as per other aspects of life, you might expect to see more people using face coverings and protective gloves in gyms, as well as queues with 2m gaps forming to get into a gym in the first place.
With that in mind, expect overall gym capacities to be lower than we were used to before. UK Active has recommended capping gym capacity based on 3m square per person.
UK Active has assured gym-goers that gyms are committed to ensuring that:
- Staff or users who display or live with someone who displays symptoms of COVID-19 will NOT be permitted on site.
- Hand washing/sanitising stations will be available throughout the facility and signage will encourage their use.
- The total number of people in the facility at any time will be limited.
- Social distancing will occur throughout the site, this includes the spacing of equipment and putting certain areas/items out of use.
- Rigorous cleaning will occur throughout the facility with particular focus on high-contact touch points.
The organisation said that "working in accordance with Government regulations and advice" gyms are "crucially committing that measures relating to COVID-19 will not discriminate against any customers or staff."
The above information is correct at the time of publishing. For the latest information, visit the gov.uk website.
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