Why Are Gyms Among The First Reopening?

Spot you? Don’t think so…

That seems weird to us…

We like going to our gym. It’s fun. There’s a lot of equipment we couldn’t afford to have at home, and a lot of variety, and a lot of classes that make for a good workout. We’ve made good friends there. We want to be healthy. We want everybody to be healthy. We’ve been working out at home, but definitely not as rigorously as if we went down to the gym. So we’d be really happy to get back to that.

But when gyms made the list of “Phase One” places the President suggested reopen in his plan for “Opening Up America Again”, we were perplexed. And when it topped the list of businesses the governor of Georgia today announced can reopen by this Friday, we just didn’t get it.

Because we’re also pretty convinced we’ve picked up a lot of bugs there over the years. And that’s not a complaint; always an acknowledged risk that we were willing to take. We noticed when the people who cleaned the locker rooms and common areas were really conscientious and on the ball, and when they weren’t.

Plantar warts? First question dermatologist asked us: “been spending a lot of time at the gym?” As self.com put it of the cause of plantar warts: “The virus just so happens to thrive in damp, warm environments like gym showers.” Now, we’re not talking about Coronavirus here. But, still…

Swine flu: not as cut and dried. But stuffed into way too small rooms with way too many people to do a spin class, for instance, where you can’t pass anybody without making at least slight physical contact or them breathing on you, you start to wonder…

We found a document on the National Institutes of Health website, where researchers checked out equipment in 2 fitness centers, which were disinfected twice a day, and found while bacteria did not do well on gym equipment, viruses did. In fact, they found viruses on 63% of the “hand-contact” parts of gym equipment, with “weight equipment” even more commonly contaminated than that. (We should point out this study was not comprehensive, nor was it mean to be at the time it was conducted, back in 2006.)

Long before the Coronavirus pandemic, Men’s Journal warned against “Gym Flu”. Especially around “wet areas” like sinks, showers, puddles, and water fountains.

Also, you can’t really help but touch your face a lot at the gym, even if just to wipe off sweat.

Yes, the White House doesn’t say gyms can just throw their doors wide open. It says:

“Gyms can open if they adhere to strict physical distancing and sanitation protocols.”

But how do you do that first part at least, at a gym? For the simple reason that it’s a gym. (Just like we questioned early advice against wearing masks, for the simple fact that it was a mask.) Even if you step way away from a piece of equipment before someone else steps in? Even if you replace a free weight and then walk away before someone else approaches? People are getting various fluids all over the place.

Even bowling alleys make more sense to us, because that’s probably the most solitary group sport. It almost lends itself to social distancing. As long as you have your own shoes and ball.

Movie theaters? Maybe, if seating is arranged like the White House briefing room. And thoroughly scrubbed down in between performances, as we’re sure the briefing room is.

Even nail and hair salons. Don’t seem that great to us for keeping 6 feet apart, but mostly it’s a one-on-one proposition.

The gym is always one on many. Plus you share equipment. No matter what you do there, you really can’t help not.

So really: why gyms?