Combating coronavirus: Guidelines for reopening of gyms, fitness centres in UAE

gym, coronavirus, covid-19, fitness centre, social distancing

Dubai - Regular sanitisation of equipment and facility, testing of staff, restricted use of bathroom among the norms.



by

Anamika Chatterjee

Published: Tue 5 May 2020, 12:22 PM

Last updated: Wed 6 May 2020, 8:50 AM

The closure of gyms and other fitness centres across the UAE gave birth to a new trend - virtual workouts. And while they have complied with the safety guidelines laid down in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, the recent reopening of different industries offers hope to this sector as well.

Recently, Reps UAE, an organisation that describes itself as a register for exercise professionals and is often at the forefront of issuing guidelines to them, came out with a circular outlining safety measures that ought to be taken whenever fitness centres and gyms across the country open up.

"They have probably done it to give businesses hope," says Olivia McCubbin, co-founder and head coach of Best Body Co, "because there are quite a few gyms and fitness facilities that have shut down. It's good of them to have taken a proactive approach in sending out these guidelines." McCubbin adds that once the gyms open up, the real challenge will be to control the timings when people head to the gym and "the frustration when you have to wait for the equipment". Having said that, she realises that not everyone is ready to hit the gym the moment an announcement for the same comes. "But you will still have those serious fitness junkies who will be in a rush to go back."

The pandemic has changed the course for several industries, and fitness is one of them. It is not easy to imagine doing pilates at home, and yet, despite the best reformers and Cadillacs in her studio, Anjali Chandiramani, pilates trainer and founder of Pilates Academy BB in Dubai, says matt workout is proving to be just as effective, which further emphasises why virtual workouts will exist in parallel with physical regimen.

The circular issued by Reps UAE has been particularly useful for freelance trainers, such as Alwyn Remedios. "On one hand, it encourages people to get back to exercising as and when gyms open up, but on the other hand, it also puts the onus on us as fitness professionals to take responsibility and help this industry to get back to where it was before. This is a helpful guideline that prepares us for the time when gyms will reopen."

While industry insiders wait in anticipation of the time when health centres and gyms will finally open up, the realisation that another potential avenue has opened up in the virtual world remains strong. Fitness trainer Nicky Holland, who has been conducting Zoom classes for his clientele in the UAE, lauds the initiative taken by Reps and hopes their proposal can help personal trainers to plan ahead so that they can get back to business. "For now, though, we have to make the most of home and virtual workouts. Essentially, keep active so that when gyms open up finally there is no deficit in terms of energy levels."

As per the guidelines issued by Reps UAE, that remained unavailable for a comment on this story, the fitness centres will need to adhere to following rules:

PRIOR TO OPENING

-  Enhanced cleaning and proof of disinfection
-  Clubs to outline cleaning protocols, such as timings, staffing etc.
-  Test staff before they return to work.
-  Remove mats, foam rollers, yoga blocks etc. from gym/studio floor
-  Cleaning schedule in place with a 1-hour closing during midday to do full disinfecting
-  Clubs to send out communication to members explaining new policies and booking procedures
-  Signage of policies and guidelines to be posted throughout the club.
-  Strategically unplug or switch off machines or remove from the gym floor.
- Ensure equipment is 2 meters apart

UPON OPENING (phase 1):

-  Not to exceed 50% capacity
-  Members to reserve access to the club in 90 minute time blocks - (not all operators agree with pre-booking and would prefer to practice a first-come-first-enter policy)
-  Temperature checks of each person as they enter the gym
-  Changing rooms to be restricted to use of bathroom only, no showers
-  Members to bring their own stretch mats if required
-  Masks must be worn while using the facility
-  Waivers of liability specific to Covid-19 must be signed prior to entry
-  Ensure members wipe down the equipment after use.

GROUP CLASSES

-  Grids taped on studio floors to ensure people stay in their spots throughout class
-  2-meter space between participants
-  Classes should run at 50 per cent capacity
-  Studio should be disinfected after each class
-  Participants must bring their own mats


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