by Farah Gomaa
Doha News puts on its yoga pants and heads to the gym, examining the new safety regulations for reopening during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Gyms and workout spaces are now back after a closure of more than five months. Even with limited access and strict rules, fitness fans are celebrating access to proper facilities and equipment.
Different venues posted their new reopening guidelines on social media to ensure their visitors’ safety. New rules ban the use of changing room lockers and showers, and mean that customers have to bring their own towels, water bottles and portable equipment like boxing gloves and rackets.
Group workout sessions are now reduced to fifty percent capacity, with fixed stations and spots for each participant to help avoid physical contact.
Alvin Banil is a personal trainer in Doha. He urges people to put their own safety and welfare first when it comes to making the decision of going back to the gym.
“Some people are impatient to get back to their normal exercise routines. Being at a confined space is at higher risk, but if you are willing and your heart is set on the gym, my advice is to check your personal risk and consider your own health condition and age,” says Alvin.
One of the fitness centres that specialise in group workouts talked to Doha News about the changes they’ve made to keep their clients safe. F45, a team training gym, has adapted their circuit themed workout — something they’re well known for — to give each participant a two-metre restricted space with all the equipment surrounding them.
“We have tried to minimize the risk as much as possible. As with any fitness facility, absolutely there will always be risks because obviously in the gym they don’t train with their masks,” says Angelique de Lange, Head of Business Development and Marketing at F45 Qatar.
Hana Elleithy, a yoga instructor, believes that the reopening of workout studios was much needed, as physical exercise can help people cope with stress and worry.
“When people are in the room and craving the environment that they came here for, COVID is no longer an issue,” she says. “We’re moving away from all that craziness in the world and we are now just focusing on our body and our breath.”
The yoga studio now has stickers on the floor to indicate where each mat should be placed, and provides disinfectant spray for people to regularly clean their mats. Hana is also avoiding physically adjusting her students’ yoga positions, instead asking them to exit the pose if she thinks they’re doing it wrong.
‘No better time’
“There is no better time for people to practice than now, we all need this time out of the world and into the studio just to get back and reconnect with ourselves and be able to cope,” adds Hana.
Many doctors and health specialists in Qatar believe that the re-opening of workout spaces is a positive step, as exercise can boost physical and mental health in many different ways.
“We need indoor spaces to maintain our physical activity, which will boost our strength and immunity,” says Vesna Bilakovic, an Otolaryngologist at Tadawi Medical Center.
She adds that limiting the number of people using the gym or facility is a very reasonable approach, and that people should aim to limit the duration of each workout session rather than hang around too long.
Alvin Banil agrees. “We can’t be paralysed by the situation, we need to react to it positively and safely,” he says.