With lockdown measures being slowly lifted as coronavirus cases in Australia decline it seems that life is slowly returning to normal.
But it looks like we will have to get used to a new normal when exercising, with one country introducing drastic social measures when they reopened gyms.
Under Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s phased plan to wind back restrictions, gyms and indoor fitness centres will be able to open for up to 20 people at a time as part of step two.
Health experts have previously warned that gym could be among the last businesses to reopen amid fears the closed, sweaty environment could be a hotbed for coronavirus outbreaks.
In Hong Kong, gyms have begun to reopen but look very different to pre-coronavirus times, leading questions as to whether this is what our gyms will look like too?
Photos shared by Bloomberg journalist Virginia Lau documented how the gym she went to had introduced glass partitions between treadmills and elliptical machines.
Disinfectant liquid and towels were also scattered throughout the gym, bubblers were sealed, hand sanitiser was available and “do not sit” signs were placed on every second seat.
Gymgoers had to sign a “health declaration” and have their temperature checked before they could begin working out.
There was also a blue light machine and alcohol wipes that you could use to sanitise your phone.
Reaction to the new gym measures were mixed, with one person calling the precautions “stupid”, while others said they didn’t plan on returning to the gym anytime soon.
“After 2 months of working out from home I’m considering cancelling my membership,” one person wrote.
“If u gotta do all this it’s too soon,” another person wrote.
“It can’t be effective!” one person tweeted, while another added: “This is stupid … people will simply not be careful enough.”
In Hong Kong you have to have your temperature checked and sign a health declaration before you can workout. Picture: Twitter/Virginia Lau.Source:Twitter
CLASSES A HOTBED FOR COVID-19 SPREAD
As gyms prepare to reopen in Australia a study by the United States’ Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has warned that group fitness classes could be a breeding ground for coronavirus.
A February outbreak of coronavirus in South Korea has already proved just how infectious a group exercise environment can be.
A single workshop for 27 dance fitness instructors later resulted in more than 100 coronavirus cases spreading across 12 gyms in the city of Cheonan.
Eight of the 27 people at the February 15 workshop had coronavirus but weren’t showing any symptoms, resulting in the superspreader event.
Referencing the South Korean outbreak the CDC said that high intensity workouts in small rooms were perfect conditions for spreading coronavirus.
“Characteristics that might have led to transmission from the instructors in Cheonan include large class sizes, small spaces, and intensity of the workouts,” the study said.
“The moist, warm atmosphere in a sports facility coupled with turbulent air flow generated by intense physical exercise can cause more dense transmission of isolated droplets.”
However, the study did find that low intensity classes, such as yoga or pilates, weren’t as risky for spreading coronavirus.
One of the South Korean instructors who attended the dance workshop also taught yoga and pilates in small groups of seven to eight people, however, none of their students caught COVID-19.
“We hypothesise that the lower intensity of pilates and yoga did not cause the same transmission effects as those of the more intense fitness dance classes,” the researchers wrote.