Going to the Gym in a Pandemic

March 3, 2021

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Some Dos and Don’ts  

If you have decided that it’s time to ditch the home gym and open up a new gym membership, I’m sure there is one thing weighing heavy on your mind; wearing a mask at the gym and how operations have changed. Wearing a mask while exercising seems daunting at first, and can make any workout ten times harder, but today I am going to share a few dos and don’ts for going to the gym during a pandemic.  

At the start of the pandemic, my gym shutdown. So I started exercising at home and going for lots of runs in the great outdoors. This ended up working really well through the summer and into the fall. But living in New England means that once it hits October, the weather will become very cold very quickly. In fact, the week before I reopened my gym membership, I remember being able to go for my usual run at the beginning of the week, but by Friday the weather had just changed too much and I could no longer truly enjoy my runs.  

So when I went back to my gym, I was instructed to reserve a time slot before going; wipe down every surface that I touched with the sanitizer wipes; and keep my mask on at all times. This didn’t seem too difficult, so that’s what I did. On my first day back I hopped on the treadmill and started a light jog. After only 5-10 minutes, I felt myself gasping for air and dripping in sweat. It was like the equivalent of running outside for an hour at race pace. After some trial and error, I eventually figured it out. If you find yourself in a similar situation, consider this blog a handy resource for some pandemic gym do’s and don’ts!  

Do:  

  • Wear a disposable mask! Seriously, this is a savior. These are going to be significantly lighter and won’t hold as much sweat as the reusable cotton masks. Also remember they call them single-use for a reason. Throw that mask out as soon as your workout is over!  

  • Bring extra water! On my first day back at the gym, I wasn’t thinking and brought only a half-full water bottle. Halfway through my workout I went to go refill it at the usual water fountain only to discover that the water fountains had been disabled. I completely understood the reason for doing this, but it was still a major inconvenience. Ever since, I always make sure to bring an extra large water bottle or two regular sized ones.  

  • Wash your hands! Before you leave the gym, make sure the last thing you do is wash your hands with hot, soapy water. You don’t want to be bringing home any germs!  

Don’t:  

  • Take your sweet time! When I first started going back to the gym, I thought that the hour-long appointment time would be enough time to get in a good workout. But it wasn’t. Before the pandemic, I would hop on a cardio machine for a light warmup. While doing this I would plan my workout and then proceed to take my time in my workout. It turns out, I can’t do this in an hour. So for the sake of saving time and not having to be kicked out at the end of your appointment time, plan what you are going to do before getting to the gym! *If your gym doesn’t require appointments, don’t just disregard this one. Some gyms are just operating under a max person capacity. So even though you might not have to make an appointment, someone might have to wait in line to get into the gym while you are finishing up your workout.  

  • Add on the extra layers! Before the pandemic, I would always like to do my cardio with an extra layer on to help my muscles warm up faster. It turns out, the mask is enough of an extra layer. So leave the sweatshirt at home if you don’t want to overexert yourself halfway through your workout.  

  • Skip the stretch! This one was also a general don’t before the pandemic too, but seriously, don’t skip the stretch at the end. Prevent muscle injury by getting a good stretch in at the end!  

Although there are plenty of other dos and don’ts that could have totally made the list, but for the sake of saving time, I leave you with these few major ones. Let us know what your pandemic gym dos and don’ts are by emailing us at Healthy.UNH@unh.edu!  

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