Gyms reopened on 12 April, alongside pub gardens and beauty salons. That means that, in England, the nation has had over two weeks to go back to their fitness centres, use weighted machines and build more strength with barbells and dumbbells. But for those who prefer a group class environment, lockdown rules mean that their dream workout is still a while away.
Let’s go back to Monday 5 April, when Prime Minister Boris Johnson confirmed that England would be entering “stage two” of the lifting of lockdown restrictions. He confirmed that indoor fitness facilities, including gyms and pools, were allowed to open to the public from 12 April as long as members followed strict guidelines.
However, in a bid to limit social contact, indoor fitness classes are still not allowed to open until the third stage of lockdown. This is expected to go ahead on 17 May, along with some international travel and indoor dining.
When will classes reopen?
Because mixing inside with people is still banned, classes aren’t allowed to go ahead. So far, it appears that the nation is on track for gyms and studios to run classes on 17 May, and Johnson has previously said that he will give businesses enough notice as to whether this date will change.
Outside classes are on though, and have been since 29 March. Formally organised outdoor exercise can go ahead with any number of people as long as it’s led by a business, charity or public body. If you’re organising a class with your friends outside, you can exercise with up to five others.
Some class-based fitness centres have changed their usual set up to be in line with government regulations, allowing people to use their studios as an ‘open gym’ rather than trainer led indoor classes.
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What will gyms look like after lockdown?
If you went back to the gym after the first and second lockdown then you pretty much know what you’re in for. First and foremost, you’ll need to take steps to keep yourself and your equipment germ-free, meaning that you’ll be wiping down kit before and after use and, in some gyms, be expected to wear a mask while walking around communal areas (but not while training).
Gyms themselves will remain looking quite different from pre-coronavirus. That means goodbye to your overcrowded, messy gym floor (really, who’s complaining?) as gyms are limiting the amount of people that can enter the gym at one time and have removed certain pieces of kit for ease of social distancing.
Is social distancing in place in gyms?
Most gyms have taped off benches and equipment to ensure that no one is getting too close to each other, and fitness and exercise group classes are still not permitted until the next stage in the roadmap. Also, most gyms will encourage you to wear a face covering while in gyms and communal spaces, except for actually exercising.
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Can I train with a partner at the gym?
Unless your gym buddy lives with you or is in your ‘bubble’, you won’t be able to train with them. However, even if your housemates are going to the same gym as you, you may still have to remain in your own two metre squared area to limit the virus spreading. PureGym has said that it will be “prohibiting ‘pair-training’ or ‘spotting’, and that they will be encouraging ‘lighter load’ exercise to prevent heavy breathing”.
Will I have to book to go to the gym?
This is down to your individual gym. Some branches are implementing a booking system only during peak hours, while others require that you reserve a limited time slot regardless of what time you wanted to enter. Check with your branch to see what steps they are making to ensure safety.
Will I have to clean equipment at the gym?
A big yes. Gyms will be providing spray and cloths to wipe down equipment before and after use. Generally, it’s still best to avoid touching your face until you have left the gym and properly washed your hands.
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Chloe Gray is the senior writer for stylist.co.uk's fitness brand Strong Women. When she's not writing or lifting weights, she's most likely found practicing handstands, sipping a gin and tonic or eating peanut butter straight out of the jar (not all at the same time).