Editor’s note: Going back to the gym during COVID-19

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I was working out at Laurier’s Fitness Centre when I heard that Laurier was suspending all in-person classes.

After all my initial panic about classes had subsided, one of my major worries was how I would be able to continue working out if the gym ended up closing.

In the official press release on Mar. 13, it was stated that many Laurier facilities — including the Athletic Complex — would stay operational. Despite this, I remember trying to fit in another workout the following day so that if the gym did end up closing, I’d have gotten all my workouts in for the week. 

Sure enough, on Mar. 15, the Department of Athletics and Recreation announced that all Waterloo facilities would be closed by the next day.

I ended up purchasing some resistance bands so that my workouts could continue from home. For a few months, I was pretty consistent with my at-home workouts, albeit a little unmotivated. 

By mid-summer I had lost all motivation and was doing about one workout per week. While it was a much appreciated break, it was a struggle to try and reconcile to the fact that I could allow myself to take a break when I knew I was at home 24/7 and more than able to continue. 

When Stage 3 of reopening happened near the end of July, my gym back home announced that they’d be opening as well. 

Since there are a lot of high touch points in the gym, and many opportunities for germs to spread, going back to the gym was a little nerve-wracking. 

It doesn’t help that my gym is easily the cheapest one in the city and probably had poor cleaning methods to begin with, never mind their current questionable methods now that we’re in the middle of a global health pandemic. 

One of my anxieties was that I wouldn’t be able to lift the same weight that I was lifting pre-pandemic. Luckily, I was able to maintain a decent amount of strength and was lifting close enough to what I was lifting before.

However, when you exercise less, your physical condition declines and your risk of injury increases.

I didn’t take into account how sedentary I had become during the summer and ended up sustaining a hip injury a few weeks ago. 

This was probably for the best since my gym had all but thrown the physical distancing rules out the window. It was just about as packed as it had been pre-COVID-19, with many maskless patrons roaming the floor. 

Needless to say, there’s a lot to consider when you’re trying to return to the gym safely. 

As of Sept. 10, Laurier has begun to reopen their fitness facilities with limited access for those who make a reservation. 

Since reopening, I’ve been to Laurier’s gym once and already have a few more reservations lined up. 

Overall, I have been very pleased with the procedures that Laurier has put in place to promote physical distancing at the gym.

There were several steps for checking in to the gym, including the online COVID-19 assessment that is used for any campus visits. 

Students were wearing masks and were diligent about sanitizing their equipment — a major improvement from my home gym, where rules were hardly enforced and patrons were running around maskless while spouting conspiracy theories to anyone who would listen. 

All in all, my return to the Laurier gym was a positive experience, and one that makes me eager to begin working out again.

Ultimately, the benefits of exercising are a bigger draw to me than any potential risk that the gym could hold, but while it felt like a major setback to have lost several months of training to COVID-19, I’ve realized that there’s nothing wrong with taking some time off. 

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