I’d love to be able to answer that question definitively, but the truth is, I can’t. What I can do is share some articles with you, and the opinions of health experts. I can also share with you what I’m doing at Groove Barre to support our joint safety. And I’ll share this with you too: I’m afraid to get it wrong. The worst thing that could happen is to have an outbreak traced back to our studio, so I’m doing every thing in my power to prevent that from happening.
Here’s an article from the Toronto Star, that addresses this very question.
The article points out that gyms have been left for Stage 3 because they are challenging places relative to COVID-19 for several reasons: people are breathing heavily in an indoor space; it might be difficult to social distance as people move between stations; and it’s hard to wear a mask when doing high intensity exercises. So heading to a gym is not without risk altogether, but they are part of Stage 3, which is only allowed when community spread is very low.
Dr. Isaac Bogoch, from the University Health Network at Toronto General Hospital, advises that it’s up to individuals to assess what they are comfortable with and to see whether their gym is adhering to public health guidelines. He also recommends wearing a mask at all times in the gym, even when working out, and to look out for crowd control. Another expert, infections disease epidemiologist, Dr. Ashleigh Tuite, of the Dalla Lana School of Public Health, agreed that physical distancing and mask-wearing is the best way to mitigate risks.
Groove Barre has reduced capacity to less than half of what we were pre COVID-19, to only 10 clients at a time. Workout stations have been sectioned off, and divided with plexi-glass in between stations whenever the space between individuals is less then 7 feet. Masks are required to enter the building, and must be kept on until clients reach their workout station. Clients must pre-register for classes and drop-ins are no longer allowed. When clients register for classes, whey are reminded of the studios COVID policies, told to self-assess their health before arriving at the studio, and to stay home if they’re unwell. All of our barre studio workouts are done in one spot, and do not require moving from station to station. Equipment is laid out for the clients prior to their arrival, so there is no rush and crowding to gather equipment before class. If clients prefer to bring their own equipment, they are very welcome to. In fact, they can pre-order their equipment now, with pick-up available at the studio when Groove Barre re-opens. Groove Barre is a small studio and crowd control is a non-issue.
Dr. Tuite also advises looking for well ventilated gyms, such as one where the windows are left open. I wish we could leave windows open at Groove Barre, but with current temperatures, we need to keep the air conditioning on. To mitigate air quality concerns, Groove Barre has an air filter, click to review the specifications if you are interested. Dr. Tuite also goes on to suggest considering smaller fitness studios over big chain gyms where crowding may be less of an issue.
Rules have been set in Markham that masks are required in all indoor businesses. Exceptions have been made to swimming pools, and during moderate to strenuous physical exercise. In this next article from CTV news, Dr. Vera Etches, Ottawa’s medical officer of health, provided clarifation to the eastern Ontario regions, citing that masks need not be worn while exercising, provided that physical distancing is in place. But clarified you would be required to wear a mask at all other points during your visit to the gym.
Another benefit of a small studio is cleanliness and peace of mind. Currently there are no more than two classes on the schedule per day, limited to 10 people per class. And given that I’m currently the only instructor on the schedule right now, the maximum number of bodies coming through the studio doors each day is 21. I do all the cleaning myself, so there’s no need to worry about employees not meeting standards. Each workout station is equipped with disinfectant, so the client is empowered to give the equipment another going over for their peace of mind if they like. After class, clients will be asked to spray down their equipment with disinfectant, and the owner (me – Dayna!) will wipe and clean off after at least 10 minutes for the disinfectant to take full effect. Each station has hand sanitizer, and hand sanitizer is outside the studio door as well.
All high touch areas (hand rails, door knobs and pulls, taps, etc., will be cleaned in between classes.
For a full read of studio policies, please click here.
If you think I’ve missed something, please let me know. We can all take an active roll in our safety!