Fitness & wellness and COVID-19

It is post Chinese New Year in Malaysia. We’re still under the Movement Control Order (MCO 2.0) but restrictions have slowly been lifting. The good news for fitness and wellness buffs is that fitness and sports venues are allowed to open, including yoga studios.

Have you hit the gyms in person yet? Have you rolled out your mat in the yoga studio?

In general, this is what has happened to the local fitness industry:

Photo courtesy of the Malay Malay

From my own personal viewpoint, I definitely have had a decline in revenue, but being a solopreneur, I didn’t have to fire anyone (myself?). I am actually very grateful for all the support I had from all the practitioners who joined me on my yoga livestream classes. I couldn’t have done it without you guys!

Back to the point, interestingly, the industry did a survey and found that:

… a recent survey conducted by the group showed that many gyms have lost more than 40 per cent of their membership base in the last 12 months. The survey said 82 per cent have seen their profits decline by more than 30 per cent ― with one in three reporting a decline of more than 71 per cent ― in addition to incurring additional and unexpected expenditures to mitigate the risks surrounding Covid-19.

MSN / The Malay Mail

Click here to find out what the fitness enthusiasts felt / feel about the re-opening.

Let’s learn what the American Council on Exercise (ACE) says about COVID-19 and how it affects fitness and yoga enthusiasts during their activities in their respective centres:

  • Air droplets are able to travel further during physical activity. When someone is exerting physically, their exhales are more forceful. So heavier breathing while exercising may cause air droplets to travel farther, which makes the risk of transmission of COVID-19.
  • Maintaining social distancing in the gym may prove difficult. It may be that fitness and wellness centres do follow guidelines of spacing out the equipment and also encourage social distancing, but you may find yourself working out while some gym members have a conversation right next to you. You may find someone passing you by really closely while coughing. These things happen.
  • Improper ventilation.
  • Shared equipment (which is why I think it’s important to wipe down before and after you use the equipment).

As such, ACE suggests these options to mitigate your risk:

  • Survey your options and select a fitness option you you feel comfortable and safe. I would add, if you already are a gym member and feel your gym is not doing enough to mitigate the risk of infection, then you really need to speak up.
  • You can opt to wear a face mask. However, be aware that breathing may not be so comfortable and I would suggest if you have underlying respiratory issues, you may prefer to either not wear a mask or just exercise at home.
    • Note though that a recent study found that heart rate, blood pressure, respiratory rate and oxygen saturation were not negatively impacted in apparently healthy individuals who performed aerobic exercise while wearing a mask. My N.B. heavy squats ≠ aerobic exercise.
    • For more on face masks by ACE, click here.
  • Do your best to maintain social distancing.
  • ACE suggests to bring your own equipment. This may not be so practical, unless we’re talking exercise mats and other lightweight exercise materials. Of course, bring your own water bottles and face towels.
  • Wipe down the equipment you use, before and and after!
  • Wash your hands before and after your workout. I actually wash my hands now and then during my workout!
  • ACE also suggests to limit your indoor high-intensity exercise. I think they mean when you are around other people, because if you are indoors at home on your own, the risk of infection is zero.

What are your thoughts about fitness and wellness centres re-opening? Tell me your thoughts in the comments!