The Things ... I Have Gone to the Gym (Fitness Studio)


The Things ... I Have Gone to the Gym (Fitness Studio)

It was inevitable gaining a nice ten kilos (25 lbs.) during the pandemic. I had tried so much to prevent it. I downloaded Just Dance. I bought all this yoga equipment. I began lifting small weights and I tried one of those interval home aerobic programs. And for the most part I was active for about ten minutes every other day for the tail end of the lockdown which was ineffective. Sleeping all day, eating whatever, whenever made trying to work out counterproductive. And what few gyms that existed in my mothers small town B.C. (Before Corona) went completely bankrupt with pandemic closures. So when I returned to Germany if possible it was imperative that I get a new gym membership. I waited for some time before looking because I wanted to ensure that I wouldn't be a walking guinea pig for a mask free and sweat filled science experiment. The sheer act of touring different area gyms was an attempt to try science on for size. Luckily for me I found a gym, have actively been going and I've avoided getting sick now for over two months.

When I thought to find a gym everyone back home thought I was crazy. Even the smallest and most personalized gyms still cannot open across the U.S. because of Covid-19 guidelines. Wherein here in Germany gyms were opening and offering all sorts of deals to recruit new members. Crossfit is open. Yoga studios still have group classes. Even the dance centers are open for partnered classes. So what difference would it make going into multiple gyms to see what they offered. Well the biggest difference is gyms here in Germany have not required wearing masks. People go to them maskless and walk inside with no change. People are working out in close quarters with no air conditioning or even basic window ventilation. People are spotting each other or teaching technique also without masks in the same environment. And as an outsider touring and observing all of the above I was encouraged to take off my mask too. Gyms have always had hygiene standards and members used gym ettiequte to clean up after themselves. In essence, using a gym was safe, secure and equipped to deal with a pandemic. 

A lot of the places I toured had a lot of out of order equipment. I rely upon strength training and cardio to get in and keep in shape so that deterred me. No one mentioned that this was a method in maintaining social distancing but also a deal breaker for couples and friends who wished to work out together. I understood this when I joined my current gym as they use the same method but it is way more tastefully done. And I loved the idea of not having to use a treadmill next to a gang of people. My gym keeps most if not all of its windows open at all times. A lot of other places were cramped and dank as is. My gym is extremely large and offers plenty of room and machines if you time yourself. I personally would never go to a gym at opening or during rush hour when people are off of work. A lot of office types use the gym before work and shower there. A lot of office types also use the gym as a release after work. I tend to go midday or late in the evening especially in the Summer for the cooler weather.  Also, while I may avoid people or groups I have to remember places like restrooms and locker rooms will be crowded all the time. No gym is going to close off every other locker or prohibit use of communal areas. The best part about German gyms is they do not offer gratis things like water fountains or towel service. So there is no bottle necking or lines for services that are questionable during a pandemic. Everyone is responsible for their own things which keeps exposure to a bare minimum. You are asked to bring a towel large enough to cover your equipment and clean things before and after use. My gym provides a sanitizing station with paper towels, disinfectant and hand sanitizer every 6-8 meters (10 feet). So it is easy to follow the rules and stay safe with or without a mask.

But I have to remember to be strategic about my social distancing because I am in a heavy breathing environment without a mask on. The same amount of mouth breathers and muscle heads are just as eager to drop their Quarantine 15 too and they haven't changed their ways because of guidelines. I avoid the type of people that do not clean equipment after use, expel a lot of air by yelling or moaning while working out and especially those that cycle several machines at once and or drop their weights. The latter always seem to take extreme shortcuts with gym etiquette and get dangerously too close to keep their reps going. If I see a guy like that anywhere near where or on what I had planned to work on I change my routine or leave. Seriously, if I fail to do some triceps curls because some beefcake was running to and from both lateral machines I can do something at home to compensate. I am not putting my health in jeopardy for minimal gains. Navigating interactions with people like that isn't worth my health or sanity. 

To keep from getting discouraged I bought myself a lot of new gym clothes and accessories. This way I always have something to wear, a clean reusable water bottle and a fresh towel. This also helps me to throw things in the wash daily wherein the past I would have probably worn something two days in a row or used a towel all week - I don't sweat. I also do wear a mask into my gym and put it on when I am  walking through communal areas and exiting. And while I may sanitize my hands multiple times as I change and clean equipment during my workout my good habit is to thoroughly wash my hands when I leave. My final touchpoint is my locker which is touched by many so hand washing makes me feel like I am taking control over that exposure. Beyond that door which is held by my foot everything else about entering or exiting is touch free. And I am thankful that my gym is automated and hyper aware of pandemic. There is no way to enter or exit without scanning oneself in and out. This way there is some level of contact tracing as the average workout is thirty minutes or less and your time there is documented. If there were any type of cluster it would be easily traceable. I cannot say the same for a lot of these gyms in the area who do not control their occupancy or simply require face to face check-ins. 

I get it. For so many the gym is actually an escape. If you are working from home, if you are alone and want the company of others, if your are rehabilitating or a senior. I like going because it actually breaks up my day. It is something I can plan my schedule around and feel like I am accomplishing goals. So in that for so many it is a non-negotiable. But the risk factor in going to certain gyms is just too high to be in under contract. If you are considering joining a gym be mindful of that gyms application of Coronavirus guidelines, their ventilation, cleanliness and occupancy levels. If you can avoid it, do not sign a contract when Winter and possibly another lockdown is imminent. The cost for my gym is relatively low so I do not mind upholding my contract if that happens. I also like the place and its staff so much I wouldn't mind supporting them during a lockdown. I have gotten my moneys worth! But we toured a gym that was almost 80€ a month that just wasn't worth it - classes already shut down, front desk chaotic, bottle necking to enter and exit, communal spaces not ventilated. Imagine paying that to expose yourself and still paying that when and if something happens that is out of your control. At the end of the day the gym should be eager to have a safe and efficient environment at a cost value that works for you in the here and now. Working out in the time of Corona isn't too bad 7/10 but the risk of infection in a mask free setting that isn't equipped could be a huge 10/10 that you might get the big other C. Take your chances and if anything get some free weights and a jumprope and do it at home!