13 ways gyms and swimming pools look very different as they reopen tomorrow

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Indoor gyms, swimming pools and leisure centres in England are able to open from Saturday for the first time in months.

Under the new rules, exercise equipment will be spaced out and class sizes reduced to allow social distancing.

Dance classes and exercise sessions are likely to have markings on the floor to show you where to stand.

People will be encouraged to arrive in their kit and to travel home to shower afterwards, although showers will be available.

Lockers are likely to be out of bounds and visitors should bring their own water as fountains will not be in use in many facilities.

Some gyms are planning to take people’s temperatures at the door, with handwashing facilities and sanitiser to be provided.

Customers should pre-book their sessions and pay in advance, and one-way systems will be in place to reduce contact between gym-goers.

However masks will not be mandatory for those visiting the gym, unlike in shops, supermarkets and public transport where they must be worn.

The exceptions to this are in Leicester, Luton and Blackburn – where gyms and indoor pools cannot reopen due to high local coronavirus rates.

Here are nine ways gyms and swimming pools will look very different as they reopen on Saturday.

While showers and changing rooms are allowed to reopen, people are asked to – wherever possible – arrive in their sports kit.

After playing, they should then “in general” avoid using the showers or changing rooms if possible, and simply go home sweaty.

This will reduce the risk of transmission in changing rooms.

The guidance says changing rooms must be open for those with disabilities or special needs, and are likely to be needed after swimming.

Lockers will remain open in general, but some of them could be shut to ensure people space out.

For example, gyms could ensure social distancing by “limiting use to alternate lockers”.

Lockers should also be “kept clean and clear of personal items” where that’s possible – and cleaned regularly when used.

Gyms will be told to limit the number of people they can have inside at any given time.

Part of that suggestion is that individual facilities use a booking system to make sure that gyms are not overcrowded.

It would also provide a handy list to for contact tracers if some did later test positive for the virus.

Gyms have been asked to reduce the number of people inside dramatically – with only one person per 3 metre squared in the facility.

The same rule applies to space in a swimming pool.

However, gyms will be allowed to include changing room space, and other indoor facilities like tennis courts, when calculating the number of people that will be allowed in.

Exercise class sizes are to be slashed in order to reduce the number of people coming into contact with one another.

Another change will be increasing the amount of time between exercise classes.

That will avoid people queuing outside classrooms and allow time to clean facilites like shared bikes and other equipment.

And gyms should consider limiting the number of classes that rotating instructors teach, to minimise exposure.

Temporary floor markings are recommended for dance and exercise studios.

They would be used to mark out the required spacing per individual while people jump up and down.

Throughout the gym, expect to see one way systems to reduce the chance of exercisers bumping into one another.

It might mean changes to people’s exercise routine – but it might also be an incentive not to skip ‘leg day’.

In order to reduce the number of surfaces, that could become contaminated, and make it easier to keep you distance from other gym users, you can expect to see fewer pieces of equipment and for it to be more spaced out.

Equipment will also need to be regularly cleaned and wiped down.

Venues have been told to take steps avoid people needing to unduly raise their voices to each other.

This includes – but is not limited to – refraining from playing music or broadcasts that may encourage shouting, including if played at a volume that makes normal conversation difficult.

This is because of the potential for increased risk of transmission – particularly from aerosol and droplet transmission.

So your spin class leader might be a bit less chatty.

You can also expect a hard limit on the number of people allowed in a swimming pool at any one time.

You may also see reduced opening hours to give increased time for cleaning.

Swimming pools should restrict numbers to allow 3sqm per bather.

Oh and if you want to use a flume you need to do it “in a socially distanced” manner.

Saunas and steam rooms should stay out of use for the time being as scientists have warned that the risk of transmission is unclear.

Hydrotherapy pools are allowed, but capacity should be managed so as to take account of any special needs of the clients.

Beauty, massage and physio services are also allowed if they follow separate guidelines.

One of the reasons gyms have taken so long to reopen is because they are closed environments filled with people sweating and breathing heavily.

As a result, expect the cleaning routine demanded by your gym when it reopens to be demanding.

Gyms and pools should “ensure any water fountains have signage which prohibits face-to-tap drinking”.

Make sure you bring a bottle to fill from the fountain or water cooler instead.

The government website says : “Face coverings are required to be worn in any shops, including food shops and supermarkets, but are not required in hospitality settings, including restaurants with table service, bars, and pubs.

“They are also not required in entertainment venues (such as cinemas or casinos), visitor attractions (such as heritage sites or museums), exercise and sports venues (such as gyms).”

This is because they already have other ‘Covid-secure’ guidelines to minimise the risk of transmission.

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