How Safe Is It to Return to the Gym?

Many North Texas gyms are taking precautions as they prepare to reopen Monday. But, there are concerns if it is really safe to go back now.

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After weeks of being stuck at home, people may be ready to rush back to their weight machines and treadmills to get in a good sweat session.

Many North Texas gyms are taking precautions as they prepare to reopen Monday, but there are questions as to whether it's safe to go back.         

We talked to a sports medicine expert who said this is about risk versus reward.

At this point, Dr. Rand McClain, the chief medical officer of LCR Health in California, said, unless you're a professional athlete and must go to a training facility, it's probably not worth the risk.

McClain said without a doubt you would be increasing your chances of getting COVID-19 by going to the gym. Some gyms are moving equipment further apart, sanitizing more often, having employees wear masks and gloves. Some are also working to create contactless check-in options.

Is that enough to give you peace of mind if you decide to head back to your gym?

“The poison is in the dose, OK. The more people you add, the more potential viral pairs you have, the more enclosed the space, the less ventilation, the more potential you have for that transmission. The more people you have coughing, or worse than that, sneezing, the more potential,” McClain explained.

And how effective is wearing a mask while at the gym, and is it safe to wear it while working out?

“You can develop -- even after less than an hour, but certainly by an hour -- something called hypoxia or hypercapnia. Hypoxia is a fancy word for saying low oxygen, hypercapnia, high carbon dioxide levels, that can affect your mentation, your cognition and reportedly there are some studies that show that can hurt you long term. Can it hurt your workout? Certainly,” said McClain. “It isn’t helping you hit your personal best, that’s for sure. But again, it’s not really so much for you as it is for other members in case you’re carrying and it’s going to stop the droplets, viral particles, from going any further presumably, and that mask was in front of it.”

Normally there is a lot of interaction at the gym. Trainers are by the side of their clients, machines and weight benches are less than a foot apart. That can't happen on May 18 when gyms are allowed to open back up at 25% capacity.

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