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Featured Image Credit: PureGym
As the nation slowly begins to plot a route back to normality out of the coronavirus pandemic, two of the UK's largest fitness groups, PureGym and Total Fitness, have revealed their plans to make their gyms safe to take in customers again.
After enduring weeks of lockdown in our homes, many people are looking to get back into training, and need to do so in a safe way.
Whilst it doesn't look like we'll be back in the gym before 4 July at the earliest, the companies that run the premises are already preparing to open their doors again.
This means installing safety precautions and ensuringpeople can use machinery and areas around the gym - including the locker rooms and showers - at a safe social distance from others.
At the risk of dragging out a massively overused cliché, this is going to be the 'new normal' that we've simply got to get used to.
That will mean cleaning stations, it will mean tape on the floor surrounding machines, it means we'll see screens put up around exercise bikes, and a whole lot more.
If that's the price we've got to pay to get back to working out, it's surely worth it, right?
It's important too. Exercise is great for the body and the mind, and after being trapped inside we could all use a bit of that.
In a document to investors, PureGym outlined an eight-step plan for reopening safely. Steps include preventing infected people from attending, preventing people from carrying the virus around the gym - those hand washing stations we've mentioned - and limiting the number of people in the gym.
The document states the need to reduce transmission risk through the air and from surfaces, and reduce the risk of transmission between vulnerable or high risk customers and staff.
The list then outlines plans to educate and train staff on new protocols, and to prepare adequately to react to potential incidents.
A spokesperson for PureGym said: "PureGym has been working in close consultation with UK Active and the Government to layout re-opening protocols, which will ensure we create a safe place to work and a safe place to workout when we re-open our doors.
"We will provide highly sanitised facilities for the safety of our members and staff through enhanced cleaning and disinfection regimes. Our equipment will be spread out and user numbers will be monitored and limited to ensure safe distances are maintained.
"Our new safety protocols are already in place in Switzerland, where we have re-opened gyms, and we've received approval from local authorities and positive feedback from our members.
"We recognise the positive role PureGym can play in supporting the health of the nation and our members' desire to build gym workouts back into their lifestyles and look forward to welcoming our members back soon."
PureGym isn't the only company plotting a route out of the crisis.
Total Fitness, which operates 17 health clubs across the North of England and Wales, is making its gyms safe to visit, too.
Like many other businesses, the company plans to re-open gyms and pools as soon as governmental advice allows, with advanced social distancing and safety measures, as well as extra staff to enforce those measure
Equipment and touch points will be cleaned, and - with Total Fitness gyms being bigger than most - the brains behind the plans reckon they can offer three square metres for each machine.
They also pointed out that chlorine, used in their swimming pools, is known to kill the virus.
Sophie Lawler, CEO of Total Fitness said: "The activity sector has long served in the fight against preventable disease and at no time in my recollection has this been more important than now. It's been exceptionally encouraging to hear physical activity talked about so much since the start of the crisis - indeed we've talked about it more in the last seven weeks than we have in the last seven years.
"We applaud the people who have continued to exercise and those who have joined the active population more recently - this is simply brilliant.
"We know from our decades of experience as health club operators that exercising alone at home isn't the full solution for achieving sustainable lifestyle change and that the vast majority of people need additional support - namely variety; visit commitment (a date with a destination) and; social connection.
"From the start of the closure the entire sector came together - very much in the spirit of the fitness community - to co-create a unilateral protocol for reopening safely on the other side.
"Facilitated by our sector representative body UK Active we have a robust set of guidelines for safe operations to which we're all committed.
"The health club sector is exceptionally well-set to help support the fight against Covid-19, and Total Fitness is absolutely best placed to do so. This is a sector that is unquestionably part of the solution.
"Total Fitness health clubs have super scale facilities that enable a great deal of variety, space and social connection, giving us the opportunity to reopen safely and provide the well needed additional motivating factors needed to keep our members physically and mentally resilient.
"We are guided by the government advice and our sector-wide framework facilitated by the team at UK Active - we will take their lead and will be ready to open as soon as permitted."