How risky is it to train in a gym amid the coronavirus crisis?

It’s been one of the big themes of the past year for committed and more casual fitness enthusiasts alike: recurrent lockdowns forcing our favourite gyms and leisure centres to repeatedly close their doors. 

But now, many of us are asking ourselves a somewhat different question: with great numbers of people returning to these environments, just how safe are they? 

You might have more reason for reassurance than you think 

It’s completely understandable that even now, after significant numbers of us have been vaccinated to at least some degree and become accustomed to many restrictions in our lives to help lessen the risks, you may remain concerned about exercising in a gym with others. 

After all, as Professor Jonathan Ball – a University of Nottingham virologist – told BBC Newsbeat late last year, there are some factors in gyms that can bring a certain degree of coronavirus risk: “You do tend to exercise quite vigorously, that means that you can breathe rapidly and quite deeply. 

“Therefore, we’d expect that you could potentially produce droplets or aerosols that could go on to infect other people.” 

Professor Ball added, however, that such measures as social distancing, hand sanitising, regular cleaning, and effective air conditioning could all help dramatically lower the chances of catching COVID-19 in a gym or leisure centre. 

He also observed: “From the data that I’ve seen from Public Health England (PHE), I’m not aware that there is a significant hotspot for infections in the gym environment.” 

What do the statistics say about the COVID risk in gyms? 

The BBC, in its aforementioned report, referenced PHE surveillance figures that didn’t seem to place gyms among particularly risky settings for coronavirus transmission, compared to the likes of supermarkets, pubs, bars and secondary schools. 

This data didn’t necessarily enable many hard conclusions to be drawn, however, especially as it didn’t even account for whether those people documented in the statistics actually caught the virus at the gym. 

More instructive, perhaps, was the data released by not-for-profit industry association ukactive earlier this year, indicating that COVID-19 was not greatly prevalent across the country’s fitness facilities. The overall rate was a mere 1.7 cases per 100,000 visits. 

And between the end of July last year and the end of December, a total of just 1,277 coronavirus cases was recorded among gym users that visited facilities during the 23-week period. This compared to 2.3 million coronavirus cases in total around the UK in the same time bracket. 

Don’t forget that you also have another option – online! 

Adding to the complexity of the task of deciding whether you should be going to a brick-and-mortar exercise facility right now, is the rapid growth of the Delta variant of the virus. In fact, it’s now the UK’s most dominant coronavirus variant, and is estimated to have an around 60% higher risk of household transmission compared to the Alpha variant. 

So, if you’re still uncertain whether you want to head into a gym at the moment, we can understand that. What it shouldn’t mean, though, is you neglecting your workout routine, especially given the considerable physical and mental health benefits practising good exercise habits can have. 

And as we recently covered on the Hybryd blog, those online classes we all became so accustomed to during the lockdowns have not gone away. In fact, they may be a key part of the broader fitness scene for a while to come, giving you a socially distanced alternative to a brick-and-mortar gym. 

Whatever the events of the coming months bring, then, you’ve got plenty of reason to still be shopping for gym clothes online to help get yourself ready for a renewed workout routine. Here at Hybryd, we’d be delighted to help, with our extensive range of high-quality, but also great-priced, fitness apparel. And we’re continuing to offer free UK delivery on all orders!