Is it safe to go back to the gym yet?
Over the past few weeks, I’ve watched some drama unfold online. Hard to believe, right? This all took place on the latest edition of the internet talk-show: Everybody On Every Side of the Issue Feels Like Their Take On Things is Totally Obvious and Correct and That Everyone Else is Stupid. The debate was gym openings. The opinions...varied. People are pushing class-action lawsuits forward against local government (at least they are in some U.S. states) (about what?). A number of gyms have opened before getting the legal go-ahead. Many are arguing for the essential nature of our services.
Some things to think about: Good health and/or fitness practices can be evaluated by their impact on you not dying. I actually divide health and fitness into two categories. Health is more than surviving. It’s really about living wit
h meaning and smartly managing barriers to daily function—whether they are related to strength, mobility, or cognition. Fitness is more about adaptability. For example, being six weeks of diligent practice away from competency in any given sport. As a for-instance, over the past couple of months, I went from zero running to a so-so 10K time. I’m currently close to breaking 50 minutes. No records set but respectable numbers for a 44-year-old novice. No matter what, though, adaptability goes hand-in-hand with not dying. Which is why simple, non-dramatic practices like washing your hands, sleeping adequately, wearing a seatbelt, etc. are more significant than burpees per minute or the ratio of quinoa to amaranth in your grain bowl. Mental health is health—full stop My wife once told me, “A healthy person has a thousand problems. An unhealthy person has one.” There’s a hierarchy to this stuff and your fundamental health is the foundation that absolutely everything else sits on. The practice of fitness teaches us to manage negative emotions, accurately assess goals, priorities, and readiness. It cultivates the kinds of self-talk and focus that lead to self-mastery. It is a form of moving meditation and no-bullshit self-love. Health/fitness service providers are essential but in-person training is not. Mostly for the above reason, I think that we have a greater responsibility than ever before to make exercise accessible to those who need more support. Our industry has historically dropped the ball here and we have an opportunity to make things right.
There is a continuum of risk I don’t think that anyone outside of your own home can honestly claim that they’re removing all risk. That’s impossible. That’s also why I expect to see a whole wave of “clean-washing” (at least that’s what I’m calling it). Clean-washing is where organizations talk a good game about concepts like social distancing and hygiene and then proceed to ignore those same ideas because they would otherwise have to make significant changes.
This is a very organized version of something. I just don’t know what. Some organizations are better set up to manage risk than others This is the point that I’ve been working up to. We have to put the kibosh on group classes but with Hybrid (4-1) and personal training alone, we can provide a 400+ ft area for each person in the space—for up to 10 people at a time. We can also keep areas and equipment reserved for each individual. That 400 sq ft per person number, by the way, is based on roughly 6 ft of distancing in every direction. We’ll be doing some extra stuff too. Touchless hand-sanitizer, dedicated equipment for each person + COVID-19-effective cleaning products for the floors and equipment, air filtration, and staff protocols. Plus the small, non-transient community makes personal responsibility far easier. They’re good people, our members. Some questions for you:
1. If we opened tomorrow, would we see your smiling face?
2. But if we required masks, would we see your smiling...eyes?
3. If you are not yet ready to return to gym life, what would you need to see first?
4. What are your fitness-related concerns?
I’d love to hear your thoughts.