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What’s gym etiquette during the coronavirus outbreak? Here’s how to stay healthy

Healthy Routine

What’s gym etiquette during the coronavirus outbreak? Here’s how to stay healthy

On Tuesday Nick Andrade, the energetic instructor of Basecamp Fitness in Santa Monica, California, switched up his class sign out. Instead of slapping palms with guests as they exited, he announced, “Everybody hit the hand sanitizer!”  It’s a change he’s made to his coaching repertoire in the wake of news that coronavirus has hit the U.S. “It’ll […]

On Tuesday Nick Andrade, the energetic instructor of Basecamp Fitness in Santa Monica, California, switched up his class sign out.

Instead of slapping palms with guests as they exited, he announced, “Everybody hit the hand sanitizer!” 

It’s a change he’s made to his coaching repertoire in the wake of news that coronavirus has hit the U.S.

“It’ll definitely be hard to pull that from my (routine), but we are going to hold back from encouraging high-fives for a while,” Andrade says. Basecamp Fitness this week also began advising members to wipe down their equipment post-workout, and is preparing to send a note with information on the gym’s deep-cleaning standards to members in light of coronavirus concerns. They’re not alone.

Gym members are getting coronavirus emails

This past week, gyms including Equinox, SoulCycle, Flywheel, 305 Fitness and Barry’s Bootcamp have already sent emails to members about coronavirus prevention measures.

The verbiage varies, with some emphasizing “coronavirus” and others saying “healthy” in the subject line, but the messages are similar. “Stay home if you’re feeling sick,” a memo from SoulCycle writes.

“Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands” and “utilize the disinfectant wipes,” says an email blast from Equinox. 

The fitness clubs share that they’re “increasing the frequency of deep cleans at our studios,” in the the words of Flywheel and are “adding more cleaning and sanitizing materials” says 305 Fitness. Barry’s Bootcamp goes so far as to deliver this warning in a note to guests: “Avoid kissing, hugging, and the sharing of cups and water bottles.”

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In sum: Gyms are cleaning more than ever, and are asking you to be mindful at their facilities.

Physician and public health consultant LaMar Hasbrouck has some tips about how to achieve the latter.

SoulCycle spin studio, which is pictured here in Austin in 2015, has sent a notice to members about measures it's taken since the coronavirus outbreak.
SoulCycle spin studio, which is pictured here in Austin in 2015, has sent a notice to members about measures it’s taken since the coronavirus outbreak.

How to practice healthy gym habits

A public gym is “a petri dish,” says Hasbrouck. “They are really incubators: They’re warm, people are sweating, there’s bodily fluids, you’re breathing on things and coughing.” And so it’s important to stay vigilant during this flu season when many are concerned about contracting coronavirus.

Hasbrouck keeps repeating one word with respect to staying healthy at the gym: “Barrier.”

“People should put barriers between themselves and equipment that’s going to be touched all day every day,” he says. 

He recommends men and women consider long pants and shirts with sleeves (as opposed to tank tops) while working out. Why? This makes the chances of bad bacteria getting onto the skin and into mucus membranes (where viruses are introduced) as small as possible. 

Another way to create a barrier: Use a towel when sitting on top of mats and machines, and have a different towel for wiping sweat from your face. Hasbrouck recommends keeping water bottles “close and closed.” Gloves are a good idea, but make sure to sanitize them after a workout. 

Speaking of sanitization: It’s crucial that cleansers contain at least 60% alcohol to be effective. 

And it’s good etiquette to wipe down a machine before you use it to protect yourself and then after you’re done with it to help others.

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And remember to wash your hands properly

Of course, “hand-washing is the staple, for sure,” Hasbrouck says. Washing with warm water and soap for at least 20 seconds is key before and after a workout. “And get your towels and stuff into the laundry,” he says.

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He agrees with the trainer at Basecamp Fitness. “This is not the season for high-fiving,” says Hasbrouck. “It might be the season for fist-pumping and elbowing.”

Enter trainer Andrade’s new exit line this week, delivered with the same verve as his high-five one once was.

“Throw your neighbor some knuckles, an elbow or a wink on the way out!” he says.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Coronavirus: A guide to proper gym etiquette during the outbreak

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