Restaurants, stores, and gyms across the country have reopened as states have started to lift lockdown orders. However, the coronavirus has not disappeared nor has a vaccine become available for public use—which means it’s important to proceed to the elliptical with caution. So, how can you hit the gym and also stay safe? The key is avoiding peak times, which means avoiding masses of people, thus lowering your risk for coronavirus infection.
As you would likely assume, most people’s gym schedules are sandwiched in between their work days, Roberta Sassatelli explains in her book Fitness Culture. (Of course, going to work is a bit different for many of us during the pandemic.) Typically, people tend to visit the gym before and after heading to work, or during their lunch hours. DW Fitness, a chain of gyms in the U.K., found that their peak times—from 7:30 a.m. to 9 a.m. and then from 5:30 p.m. to 8 p.m.—mirror that notion.
And while heading to the gym anytime during peak hours is risky, it is most dangerous to visit at the end of peak hours, around 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. on weekdays. Nick Rizzo, the fitness research director at RunRepeat, says the earlier the better because you need to “ensure that the least amount of people have been in the gym and touching the equipment that you will use since it has last been cleaned.” James Scott, owner of Dappir Clean, a commercial and residential cleaning company in Tampa, Florida, says that gyms usually disinfect and clean their equipment after closing the night before or before opening that day.
Some people are worried about stepping foot in gyms, especially seeing as breathing heavily—which we all do while working out—spreads COVID-19 more easily. For example, research published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that dance aerobics classes in Cheonan, South Korea led to 112 positive coronavirus cases in March. It’s no wonder an Azurite Consulting survey of 3,500 people even found that 57 percent of gym-goers said they will wait three or more before returning to the gym when it reopens.
If you only have time to work out during peak gym hours, Rizzo recommends finding alternative ways to exercise that don’t involve putting yourself at risk in a crowded gym. “Any form of exercise is great, whether that simply be going for walks, running, doing at-home workouts, or anything else,” he says. “If you are a fitness junkie and still want an intense workout that will challenge you, that doesn’t require equipment, Sprint Interval Training (SIT) is a great option.” And if you’re looking for more ways to work out at home, check out these 23 Easy At-Home Workouts You Can Do During Quarantine.