Since the third lockdown closed gyms, lidos and yoga studios around the nation, our daily exercise has been largely limited to home workouts, outdoor walks and runs, and HIIT sessions in the park with a pal. If you’ve been itching to get back in the gym, there’s good news ahead…
On Monday 5 April, Prime Minister Boris Johnson confirmed that England would be entering “stage two” of the lifting of lockdown restrictions.
From 12 April, more businesses will reopen such as non-essential retail, outdoor hospitality venues, hairdressers and salons. You’ll be able to stay overnight at self-contained accommodation with your household or support bubble, and events such as weddings and wakes can permit up to 15 people.
What’s more, this next stage in the roadmap also means that gyms and other indoor leisure and sports facilities will be able to reopen in England from 12 April. While this means you and others from your household can get back in the weights room or indoor pool, people from different households must still not deliberately mix, ruling out exercise classes or meeting a workout buddy from outside of your bubble until at least May.
In Scotland, meanwhile, gyms are are set to reopen until 26 April, and then on 10 May in Wales and Northern Ireland.
Of course, whether or not you feel comfortable going back to the gym is up to you. For some, home workouts and running will keep them going for the rest of 2021, but, if you’re ready to return in April, here’s what you can expect.
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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.
Will social distancing be 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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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.
Can I train with a partner?
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 taped 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 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.