Working Out at Outdoor Gyms During COVID-19
UK Gyms will be shut until at least mid-July, so we’ve been looking at other ways of working out.
We’re big fans of building garage gyms and creating at home set-ups using barbells, dumbbells and gym accessories, but not everyone has space or the budget to recreate the gym experience.
If you’re biting at the bit to get back into the gym, then you might be interested in using an outdoor gym. Outside gyms will open up again on July 4th and could be a useful stop-gap until we can all get back to our fitness centres and classes.
They’re a great excuse to get outside into the fresh air and many are council-owned which means they’re free to use and accessible to everyone.
What is an outdoor gym?
Outdoor gyms are outside areas where weather-resistant fitness equipment is available for people to use. You’ll recognise a lot of the standard equipment: a static bike, dipping station, chest and leg press, cross-trainer, etc.
They’re a chance to get in some low-impact exercise outside.
For many of us, an outdoor gym can’t replace our gym memberships or our rigorous at-home practices, but it is an enjoyable way to workout and there’s just something pleasant about exercising in the open air.
Some outdoor gym stations are staggered, too, and you may see these called trim trails. They encourage users to walk a route to get from one piece of equipment to the other.
Is it Safe to Use an Outdoor Gym During the Coronavirus Pandemic?
It’s safer to be outside than indoors. You don’t have to touch doors or keypads to get into an outside gym which means fewer opportunities to touch infected surfaces. COVID-19 hasn’t gone away, however, and you could catch the virus at an outdoor gym. You can take precautions to workout safely.
How to work out safely on an outdoor gym
- When you get to the outdoor gym take a look at the equipment and see if it’s safe to use or whether any maintenance issues need attending to. The set-up won’t have been used for many months and whilst the owners and operators should have checked beforehand, it’s worth making sure it’s safe to use before beginning your workout.
- Government advice is to limit the number of people using the equipment at any one time. You should not try to workout if the maximum number of people has been exceeded. You should find signs explaining the rules.
- Social distancing remains a key part of staying safe from Coronavirus. Stay 1 meter or more away from other people at all times and be vigilant about those around you.
- Some outdoor gyms may have a booking system in place. If so, call up and get a slot.
- There will be a marked one-way system from one piece of equipment to the next so make sure you follow it.
- Take hand sanitizer with you and apply it before you start working out, regularly during and then again afterwards. You might also want to wipe down surfaces before and after with anti-bacterial spray.
Avoid touching your face. If you have long hair, tie it back securely so you won’t be tempted to move it away.
- When you get home wash your clothes and your hands.
Is an outside gym a good workout option?
We love the idea of working out outside and as there’s no guarantee that indoor gyms will be open again next month, it’s a good opportunity to have a more structured workout.
Bodybuilders won’t find the equipment enough but for most people, the equipment is more than adequate to raise body temperature and get the heart racing.
Remember if you’re wearing headphones to add sweat-proof covers to the cushions to stop moisture damage.
When will indoor gyms open?
Gyms were originally included in the Government’s July 4th plans but were removed in the lead-up to the new guidelines being announced. There’s a real chance we’ll see gyms back open by Mid-July with social distancing measures ensuring members are kept safe. If there’s a spike in infections or if the Government believes there’s a risk to the public, then opening could be pushed back to October.
It's a tough one because whilst we know exercise boosts the immune system, gyms are confined indoor spaces where people exhale rapidly (potentially spraying droplets) and touch multiple surfaces.
Is there an outdoor gym near me?
Local councils run a lot of the public outdoor gyms, so we’d suggest getting in touch with them to see where your nearest one is. Fresh Air Fitness has a map of all its installations.
What if there isn’t an outdoor gym near me?
There’s a lot you can do with limited space or equipment to increase fitness during the COVID-19 lockdown including how to set up a home gym and the benefits of using resistance bands
If strength training is more of your thing, you can buy free weights, plates and bars at the GymHugz store.