The Centre for Disease Control warns that anyone going to work out at an indoor gym must wear a face mask.
The agency counsels that it is not enough to put on mask to gain entry into the facility, but clients must keep the masks on while their physical workouts last.
In an outbreak involving 21 cases across three fitness studios in Hawaii, many of them were linked to a 37-year-old male fitness instructor who developed symptoms after teaching classes at two separate facilities.
The Hawaii Department of Health investigated the cluster of cases and found that lack of mask-wearing and the instructor shouting for 60 minutes (during a spinning class) likely fueled the cases.
As reported by Yahoo News, in the time of COVID-19, not every workout is created equal, and it is important to think about how easily the virus could spread based on the type of activity you’re doing.
“Doing static activity at a gym masked up and distanced is not the same risk profile as doing a high-intensity aerobics class without a mask,” says a fitness physician Dr. Dara Kass.
“People need to look at how far those respiratory droplets will travel and what barriers they have themselves to inhaling somebody else’s respiratory droplets,” she adds.
In both places the CDC studied, high-intensity workouts without masks were key to the virus’s spread.
That’s what Kass says to avoid. “When you think about certain indoor athletic classes and you turn the lights down and see all that spit flying, you probably don’t want to be there,” she says.
“It’s kind of gross to have to think about it like that but you have to think that way.”
She recommends considering things like yoga or barre class while masked, or lifting weights with a mask while distanced from others — all activities that she classifies as “low risk.”
She advised that if you’re feeling COVID-19 symptoms, stay home
A senior scholar at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, Dr. Amesh Adalja, warns, “You should not be going there if you are sick or have any symptoms that are consistent with coronavirus or you’re waiting for a test result, or have been identified as a significant exposure.”
CDC therefore advises that, “To reduce SARS-CoV-2 transmission in fitness facilities, staff members and patrons should wear a mask, and facilities should enforce consistent and correct mask use (including during high-intensity activities).
Fitness experts also advised that even when clients are at their individual machines, they still should be wearing a mask and that will help decrease the level of contagion that occurs.
They also enjoin patrons to stay at least six feet apart and pay attention to ventilation. “Try to keep social distancing in place,” says Adalja. “Gyms that can use outdoor spaces or can open a window, all of that is going to be useful in decreasing spread.”
If possible, opt for an outdoor workout or one you can do at home. “exercising outdoors or virtually could further reduce SARS-CoV-2 transmission risk,” both Kass and Adalja said.