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10 Ways Gyms Will Change Forever After Lockdown

Here's how fitness facilities plan on helping employees and members stay healthy while everyone aims to get fit.

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athletic sportsman in medical mask sitting near barbell in gymLightFieldStudios/Getty Images

Gyms adjust to the new pandemic landscape

Don’t sweat the small stuff? Actually, that’s exactly what gym owners, trainers, and group fitness instructors are doing as fitness facilities begin to reopen across America. As of press time, more than half of the 50 states have allowed gyms to reopen in some capacity, and many more states will be easing restrictions in the coming weeks.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has created a general guide for reopening businesses but doesn’t have a specific road map for gyms. So, the Coalition for the Registration of Exercise Professionals‘ (CREP) stepped in and drafted a Reopening Guide with suggestions about cleaning, member access, equipment use, and more. Most state or local governments recommend six or more feet of physical distancing and have capped attendance at fitness facilities as well—all in an attempt to keep members and staff safe and avoid a second wave of the coronavirus.

The majority of changes will vary from gym to gym or brand to brand. To give you an idea about how they’re strengthening their cleanliness strategies and adjusting their pandemic plans, we spoke to gym chain CEOs and fitness pros.

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Weight roomTom Sibley/Getty Images

They will be less crowded

At all Xponential Fitness brands (including Club Pilates, Pure Barre, CycleBar, StretchLab, Row House, YogaSix, AKT, and STRIDE), class sizes will be reduced, explains Anthony Geisler, CEO.

“Many facilities will implement some type of scheduling system to manage traffic flow and the adjusted capacity of their building,” adds Graham Melstrand, the executive vice president of engagement for the American Council on Exercise (ACE) in San Diego. If you notice any close encounters or feel like it’s impossible to keep your distance from other members, alert the gym owner or manager.

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Using the elliptical machine as a stepping stoneMoyo Studio/Getty Images

Equipment will follow safe physical distancing

Those smaller class sizes will allow for the indoor cycling bikes, rowing machines, yoga mats, and more to be spaced six feet apart at a minimum; ten to 15 feet is even safer, according to Brian Katzowitz, a health communications specialist for the CDC.

“All of our facilities will stagger cardio and strength machines by at least six feet to promote physical distancing,” says Adam Zeitsiff, Dallas, Texas-based president and CEO of Gold’s Gym.

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Woman disinfecting and cleaning gymmiljko/Getty Images

Expect an “intermission” at large or 24-hour gyms

At Gold’s Gyms, the equipment will get some breathing room—as will the staff while they deep clean the space and disinfect high-touch surfaces. “An ‘intermission’ will occur daily from 1 to 2 p.m. so staff can restock all cleaning supplies and conduct a full gym cleaning. Members already in the gym will be able to finish their workouts, but no other members may enter and check-in during this time,” Zeitsiff says. “The health and safety of our team members and members have always been our top priority and it’s never been more important.”

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Woman is doing online workout during covid-19 lockdownLuis Alvarez/Getty Images

More workouts will go virtual

Since class size will be limited and some members may prefer to sweat solo in their home gym, for the time being, Geisler’s Xponential brands plan to offer a hybrid of virtual classes and in-studio classes as studios reopen.

“During the COVID-19 pandemic, there has been an increase in digital fitness consumption, and we don’t expect this to slow any time soon because people are experiencing how easy fitness is to access anywhere they are. I think we will continue to see this hybridization of fitness as consumers take their workouts beyond the four walls of a traditional gym,” Zeitsiff says.

He doesn’t expect these to completely replace brick-and-mortar gyms, though. The virtual offerings will act as an additional avenue for people to squeeze in another workout or a mini-workout between gym visits—or as a lower-stress option as people regain comfort returning to public settings. Find out more of the everyday habits that could (and should) change in a post-coronavirus world.

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Stretching is an essential part of exercisePeopleImages/Getty Images

Group fitness classes may be put on pause

Many gyms will likely streamline its group exercise and other services to eliminate programs that can’t be delivered safely or economically, Melstrand believes. To make members feel safer and avoid spreading germs, Geisler says that many of their brands will have personal equipment pieces for purchase. That way, you can bring and use your own reformer loops, yoga blocks, and more rather than utilizing shared tools. If you’re still looking for an effective workout, hop on one of these best gym machines for weight loss.

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Locker RoomMint Images/Getty Images

Some amenities will be off-limits

Locker rooms and some of the social areas of the club where members congregate before and after working out will often be closed temporarily, Melstrand believes.

“Upon reopening of company-owned locations, members will have access to cardio machines, free weights, strength machines, and stretching areas,” Zeitsiff says. “However, some amenities and fitness offerings will remain closed for the time being, including group exercise classes, the kid’s club, pools, saunas, steam rooms, and water fountains.” Contact your gym ahead of time if you have your heart set on a specific feature and remember to bring your own water—we recommend these 10 smart water bottles.

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Fitness studio in MoscowMikhail Tereshchenko/Getty Images

Staff will be masked

“We are requiring all team members to wear face masks and gloves,” Zeitsiff says. But unless state and local officials require them, Gold’s Gyms will not mandate that members wear gloves and face coverings, though they do strongly encourage their use. Learn more about six times you need to wear a mask—and three times you don’t.

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Close up of hands typing on laptop with surgical glovesUgur Karakoc/Getty Images

Going contactless

To reduce touchpoints on iPads and other tech tools, Xponential brands are enacting contactless check-in (so you can DIY on an app or a staff member will do so for you on a computer behind the front desk). “We are posting signage to direct members to their specific area to avoid congregating and have designated equipment for them to use,” Zeitsiff says. “We’re also planning for gaps between classes so staff can sanitize equipment and clean the studio thoroughly.” Check out these 13 times you’re overusing hand sanitizer.

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Athlete clean and sanitize fitness equipment before useKanawa_Studio/Getty Images

You’ll have extra duties as a member

Some gyms may require members to consent to temperature checks and answer questions regarding their health status prior tow working out, Melstrand says.

At company-owned Gold’s Gyms, members will be asked to adhere to these policies, according to Zeitsiff:

    • Don’t visit the gym if you are displaying any potential flu-like symptoms, such as fever, cough, or experiencing any difficulty with breathing.

    • Abide by six-feet physical distancing rules.

    • Thoroughly wipe down equipment after every use with the sanitation supplies provided and place all trash in designated wastebaskets.

You should also avoid touching your face and wash your hands immediately after you’re finished exercising. It’s not just coronavirus you need to worry about, you can prevent these 15 diseases simply by washing your hands.

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Low Section Of Woman Running On Treadmill At GymAleksandra Shutova / EyeEm/Getty Images

A lot of the changes will be invisible

Prior to opening, many facilities have or will install extra cleaning supply stations. Zone cleanings will likely take place throughout each day in all areas of the gym, including all high-touch surfaces, door handles, railings, and common areas. Then overnight, a professional third-party, after-hours cleaning team will visit to disinfect and perhaps use an electrostatic commercial spray for deep sanitization, Zeitsiff says.

“During this pandemic, I think people now more than ever have realized the importance of exercise and that it is a key element in staying healthy and supporting the immune system,” Zeitsiff says. “Exercise isn’t just about your physical appearance, it’s also about the benefits it can have for your body on the inside.” Gyms aren’t the only thing that is changing; find out 10 things you won’t be seeing in hotels anymore.

For more on this developing situation, see our comprehensive Coronavirus Guide.