Outdoor group fitness classes might be on the horizon and the Northern Territory is leading the way allowing people to head back to the gym from May 15. But according to one of Australia’s top doctors, gyms could potentially be one of the last things to reopen in some states.
Deputy Chief Medical Officer Dr Nick Coatsworth said lifting restrictions would be “very staggered” with gyms posing a “higher risk of transmission” than say a cafe or restaurant.
“Certainly gymnasiums do present a higher risk of transmission because of their nature and the number of people that use them,” he said on Today Extra this week.
Gyms could open before September
With the risk of ‘cluster’ outbreaks remaining ever present if means gyms will likely be among the last businesses to reopen, meaning they could be closed until at least September at this stage.
Professor Marylouise McLaws, an infectious disease expert at UNSW and advisor to the WHO, however thinks it could be sooner than that - June 1 - but fitness classes would need to be smaller in size and overall gym capacity reduced.
“People work very hard at the gym, they sweat, they breathe and puff very heavily so they are pushing out droplets and particles,” Prof McLaws told 10Daily. “You have to ensure that people have more than two metres between each other to be safe.”
“They would have to have very strict cleaning of the equipment each time it was used. You can't just rely on the person before you having done a thorough job.”
The Government officially closed gyms and indoor sporting venues on March 24, before moving to ban outdoor bootcamps shortly after. At the moment, you are only allowed to workout outdoors with one other person, while maintaining the required social distancing of 1.5m.
Many people have turned to working out at home, and businesses have adapted by offering live workouts. But that doesn’t mean Aussie’s aren’t keen to get back to the gym when they can.
Aussies are keen to get back to the gym
In fact, a recent consumer survey by industry body Fitness Australia has found more than 85 per cent of gym users will renew their memberships when gyms safely reopen.
Fitness Australia CEO Barrie Elvish said while people had remained active during isolation many were missing the gym and looking forward to getting back to their regular routine once safe to do so.
“Our survey found more than 86% of people have continued to exercise since gyms closed in late March, with 36% walking or running to keep active,” Mr Elvish said in a statement obtained by Yahoo Lifestyle.
“However, while many have maintained a consistent level of exercise, 85% are keen to get back to their usual routine once gyms can reopen safely. What was also great to see was 54% are keen to maintain or review their membership to support their local facility or business.
“For many, the gym is also more than just a place to exercise, it’s a social environment with more than 24% of respondents saying the sense of community was their reason for maintaining or renewing their membership.”
The body has presented its reopening plans to state health departments for review and been working with government authorities, industry and international counterparts, including UK Active and IHRSA, Exercise NZ, to get a reopening strategy together.
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