Gyms to face many changes once they reopen, expert says


RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – Gyms have a lot to consider once they’re allowed to reopen in the coming weeks.

Before the coronavirus pandemic, one of the only risks associated with going to the gym was getting hurt during a workout. COVID-19 changed all the risk factors.

“It’s a risk, and you have to decide for yourself if it’s a risk work taking,” said Dr. Rand McClain. He is the Chief Medical Officer L.C.R Health.

McClain’s specialty is sports medicine. He said finding ways to modulate the risk is important when deciding to return to the gym. Some gyms may hire firms to handle weekly disinfection, but McLain, who specializes in sports medicine, thinks that won’t be enough. He thinks there needs to be proactivity, in addition to sanitization and encouraging people to wipe down machines.

“You can bring your own disinfectant with you,” he said. “Be careful about benches you are laying on, dumbbells, etc.”

Coronavirus spreading through person-to-person contact makes it a risk of going to the gym.

“They may have to move equipment or make it so you can work out on every other piece,” McClain said. “Maybe six feet isn’t enough. We might want to consider eight.”

Wearing a face covering while working out is not recommended. McClain said it can impede the body’s attempts to properly take in oxygen and expel carbon dioxide.

“It’s a tough call,” he explained. “It sounds selfish. A mask is more for others, but it could affect your own workout and your own state of health.”

McClain said that, like other places, gyms need to limit the number of people inside at one time.

“Consider the gym one big Petri dish, and the more vectors you add to it, the more chance you have of bacteria — in this case, the virus — getting into the space,” McClain said.

He also said not to jump back into a workout routine right away. Most people haven’t been working out as intensely in a gym for months now. Being too aggressive with weights and equipment can lower immune defenses and put people at risk.

McClain also recommended not showering at the gym. He said locker rooms are a hotbed for bacteria and people are better off waiting until they get home.

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