A reopened gym in California has taken the idea of social distancing as literally as you can get, installing individual PVC pods for its members to work out in. Inspire South Bay Fitness in Redondo Beach, California opened its doors again on Monday, as state rules allowed, and found a very unique way to avoid clients having to work out while wearing masks.
After members tested out exercising with a mask on and found it hard to breathe, the gym's owner Peet Sapsin started exploring other options. What he came up with was a series of pods - measuring approximately 6 feet wide and 10 feet tall - made from shower curtains and PVC pipes. Each contains dumbbells and a bench, plus sanitiser for the equipment to be cleaned after use. The individual pods allow nine clients at a time into the main gym space, where they can take a class together safe in the knowledge they're sensibly distant from one another.
However, some people on Instagram have pointed out that, because the pods are only enclosed on three sides (the back and the top are left open), they can't be fully protective from the spread of the virus. "This makes zero sense the pods are open from the top," wrote one person.
The members, on the other hand, are "loving it", the gym owner told Business Insider.
The gym has also implemented hand sanitiser which gym-goers are asked to use on arrival, and anyone looking to come in must also have their temperature taken with a contactless thermometer.
While nothing has been confirmed yet, it seems gyms in the UK are on track to open some time in July, following the opening of non-essential shops earlier this week. It's essential, however, that gyms take major precautions when reopening their doors, in terms of both social distancing and hygiene.
As Dr Ravi Tomar, a GP at Portland Medical, explained to Cosmopolitan previously, "viruses can live on a surface outside the human body for several hours, [so] gym equipment is a prime culprit for picking up an illness."
While you'd hope that, when gyms do reopen, nobody who's feeling unwell would go, you can't guarantee that will always be the case.
"Unfortunately, many people do insist on pushing through for the sake of a workout, unwittingly exposing others to their germs," said the GP. And that can be troublesome in an environment like the gym. "Coughs and sneezes can spread droplets much further than you might think (up to 8 metres) and those droplets can remain in the air a good while afterwards," he said.
"Depending on whether the person before you has coughed onto their hands or worse, sneezed into the air, there can be moisture droplets containing a virus on anything from free-weights to elliptical handles or the buttons on the treadmill," Dr Tomar warned.
One slightly reassuring thing, however, is the fact that "sweat itself doesn’t transmit coronavirus," says Dr Tomar. Phew.
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