CLOSING gyms, leisure centres and swimming pools under Covid restrictions “poses a major threat” to the UK’s health, warn experts.
By the end of March 2021, these facilities will have been forced to close for a cumulative eight months out of the past year, they add.
When are gyms reopening in the UK?
Nuffield Health says: "Following the latest government announcement, all of our fitness and well-being centres in England are temporarily closed.
"We do not yet know when we will be able to reopen but we will advise members as soon as we know."
No date has been given for the reopening of gyms in the UK, as Brits are still battling through the third lockdown.
However, there are hints that a 'roadmap' to a lessening of restrictions is on the way.
On January 27, 2021, Boris Johnson told the House of Commons: "In the week beginning 22nd February, we will set out our plan not just for re-opening our schools but gradually to reopen our economy and our society and to get our lives back to as close to normal as possible."
He explained that the priority was to reopen schools, and "we hope to begin opening schools on Monday 8th March".
Mr Johnson indicated that there will be a "gradual and phased approach towards easing the restrictions".
TIERS TO RETURN
Once lockdown is eventually lifted, under the government's plans to ease restrictions, the Tiers system will return, foreign secretary Dominic Raab has confirmed.
Most sport facilities such as gyms/leisure centres, courts and pitches can remain open across Tiers 1-3.
However under Tier 4, all indoor sports and leisure facilities have to close.
Elite sport was allowed to continue from January 4, 2021, when England's third national lockdown was confirmed.
But indoor gyms and sports facilities – along with outdoor sports facilities – were closed.
You can leave your home to exercise.
But, in England this should be limited to once per day, and you should not travel outside your local area.
Wales, Northern Ireland and most of Scotland also remain in lockdown.
What will be the restrictions in place for gyms?
The health and well-being of members and team members "is our number one priority," says David Lloyd.
While operating before the latest lockdown, the sports, health and leisure firm said it was following coronavirus-safe guidance from industry association, UK Active.
David Lloyd published the following Covid restrictions:
- Reduced capacity in gyms, while increasing space between equipment to 2m, as well as adding a one-way system.
- Provided additional gym space, with individual workout areas of 3m x 3m.
- Limited bookings for group exercise classes to adhere to social distancing guidelines.
- Reduced the number of swimmers in pools – where people swim at 5m intervals.
- Fewer members are allowed in certain areas at any one time to ensure everyone can practice social distancing.
- Plastic screens introduced to reception desks to protect members and staff.
- Signage and clear floor markings help members to remain a safe distance apart, with staff available to provide support.
UK Active also advises:
- Rigorous cleaning and disinfection procedures to minimise risk of contact transmission.
- Hand wipes/sanitisers on offer at reception.
- Customers should arrive swim or gym ready, to avoid using showers.
- Users should not be working out face-to-face.
Will I need to wear a mask in the gym?
According to Puregym, in England, members are encouraged to wear a suitable face covering while in the gym – except when exercising.
Gym-goers are required to wear a face covering when entering the gym, in communal areas and changing rooms, and when moving around the gym.
This can be removed during exercise.
Puregym explains that, in regards to air filtration:"We pump over 2,000 litres of fresh air into our gyms every second though our ventilation systems.
"This helps to dilute airborne virus particles and ensure members have clean fresh air to work out."
How long will I be able to stay in the gym for?
Before the third lockdown, Gymgroup recommended members check how busy their gym was through its website.
"To ensure that you get the most out of your experience, we’d recommend that you come down to the gym at a time that is less busy so that you will not need to queue for as long," the group adds.
To keep the number of people exercising at a safe number, and allow social distancing, changes were made to entry measures.
"As soon as someone leaves, you’ll be allowed in," it added.
Puregym has an app which helps people to plan their visit by checking the number of those exercising in the gym, to avoid busy times and queues.
The firm also controls numbers in its gyms to ensure they never get too busy.
Can I train with other people in the gym?
The Gymgroup says members are banned from training with each other, "even if you are from the same household or bubble.
"This is to ensure that there is still plenty of access around the gym, and avoids members from getting too close to one another.
"The only exception to this is for spotting due to health and safety concerns.
"In these circumstances, the spotter must be wearing a face mask. If you do not have a face mask, you should not be spotting."
Will I be able to have personal training sessions?
Personal trainers and fitness instructors across the UK are currently not legally permitted to train clients in any indoor setting while the country is in lockdown.
The Chartered Institute for the Management of Sport and Physical Activity (CIMSPA) advises the following for personal training sessions – should the government return to tiered restrictions following the lockdown.
Tier 1: You can run personal training sessions in groups of more than six people, as long as people are in separate groups of six that do not mix.
Tier 2: You can run personal training sessions in groups of more than six people, as long as there is no mixing between people from different households.
Tier 3: One-to-one personal training and coaching is allowed indoors, but should take place in a gym or sports facility rather than a private house.
Tier 4: Indoor facilities must close, apart from the exemptions detailed above.
Will classes still be running?
CIMSPA has also provided answers on classes – assuming tiered restrictions are again put in place after lockdown.
Group exercise classes indoors in a gym, fitness studio/leisure centre:
- Tiers 1&2: Indoor exercise classes can take place. There must be 3m x 3m per person for movement classes or 2m x 2m per person for static classes;
- In Tier 1, participants can be in separate groups of up to six people, as long as they do not mix with other groups;
- In Tier 2, people from different households should not mix;
- Tier 3: No group exercise classes can take place indoors, unless within a household or bubble;
- Tier 4: Indoor facilities must close.
Will the number of people in the gym be restricted?
Gyms will need to restrict the number of those exercising to adhere to Covid social distancing restrictions, and keep members safe.
When lockdown measures were eased in 2020, the government advised that the number of people using the facility at any one time should be limited, for example by using a timed booking system.
Will I need to book to get in the gym?
Gyms will advise people to book sessions ahead of their visit, so premises don't get too busy – while reducing queues.
Will changing facilities be available?
Gymgoers will be recommended to arrive in workout gear to avoid using the changing rooms where possible.
In its advice between lockdowns in 2020, the government said "customers and staff should be encouraged to shower and change at home wherever possible, although changing rooms will be available".
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