Gyms have officially reopened – but is it safe to go?

After over three months of closures, gyms reopened across England on 25th July. But is it safe to return and just how different will the experience be? Here’s the need to know…


After over three months of closures, gyms reopened across England on 25th July. But is it safe to return and just how different will the experience be? Here’s the need to know…

Have you seen and heard more of Joe Wicks in the last three months than you previously thought was humanly possible? Me too. With gyms closed over lockdown, many of us were left to navigate the unchartered (and oh so sweaty) waters of Insta-live and youtube workouts.

But while a vast number of people across the UK certainly enjoyed the flexibility of online classes, a recent survey from Sport England found that 87% of previous gym goers are still keen to resume gym memberships in their post-lockdown lives.

Although there’s yet to be a date set for gym reopening's in Scotland and Wales, the existing enthusiasm for the gym was palpable the very second some opened their doors across England on 25th July – with scores of people queuing up to take midnight classes.

But while a great deal of us are relieved to have the gym back, the experience is certainly set to be different from before. And with the amount of respiration that takes place while exercising, it’s unsurprising that the question of how gyms can reopen safely has been on many a brain.

So that’s why I decided to do a little digging. From what the good old science is telling us, to the safety guidelines that are being implemented, here’s everything you need to know about returning to the gym in our ever changing 'new normal'…

Getty Images

Is it safe to go to the gym?

At the moment, science indicates that coronavirus isn’t spread through sweat. So if the gym you use has been cleared to reopen and implements social distancing guidelines, there’s likely no more risk of catching the virus at the gym than in a bar or restaurant.

According to the World Heath Organisation (WHO), coronavirus ‘spreads primarily from person to person through small droplets from the nose or mouth, which are expelled when a person with COVID-19 coughs, sneezes or speaks.’

‘These droplets are relatively heavy, do not travel far and quickly sink to the ground. People can catch Covid-19 if they breathe in these droplets from a person infected with the virus.’

'These droplets can land on objects and surfaces around the person such as tables, doorknobs and handrails. People can become infected by touching these objects or surfaces, then touching their eyes, nose or mouth.’

What are the rules at the gyms?

The government guidance is as follows:

  1. All venues should encourage gym goers to arrive at the facility in sports kit and, where possible, travel home to change/shower
  2. Use of changing rooms and showering facilities should be avoided where possible
  3. All venues should ensure steps are taken to avoid people raising their voices to each other
  4. Pieces of gym equipment must be an appropriate distance apart as to comply with social distancing guidelines and with a suitable margin for one-way routes
  5. Swimming pools should restrict numbers to allow 3sqm per bather

If you decide to return to the gym this week, please also bear in mind these additional guidelines published by Nuffield Health for staying safe:

Stay home if you’re unwell

If you show any symptoms of Covid-19, it’s best to stay home to stay safe and protect others.

Bring your own equipment

Including a full water bottle if the fountains aren’t available and your own yoga mat.

Don’t ignore the hand sanitising stations

Wash your hands upon entering the gym, as well as before and after using a machine.

Keep your workout to one-hour

This isn’t enforceable, but many gyms will likely impose a similar suggestion to avoid overcrowding or people queuing for their turn on a machine.

Niamh McCollum

Niamh McCollum is Features Assistant at Marie Claire UK, and specialises in entertainment, female empowerment, mental health, social development and careers. Tackling both news and features, she's covered everything from the rise of feminist audio porn platforms to the latest campaigns protecting human rights.

Niamh has also contributed to our Women Who Win series by interviewing ridiculously inspiring females, including forensic scientist Ruth Morgan, Labour MP Stella Creasy and ITV’s former Home Affairs Editor Jennifer Nadel.

Niamh studied Law in Trinity College Dublin. It was after enrolling in a Law & Literature class on her year abroad in Toronto that her love of writing was reignited. In no particular order, her big likes are Caleb Followill, hoops, red wine, sea swimming, shakshuka and long train journeys.