Coronavirus and the gym: Be 'super careful' at public facilities, doctor suggests

Weight Lifting

There’s nothing like a good workout to blow off steam — but are trips to the gym safe amid the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak?

Though there’s no need to throw down the dumbbell for good, Australian physician and journalist Dr. Norman Swan said fitness fanatics should ensure they're being “super careful” in wiping down any equipment or areas they’re going to touch with an alcohol-based sanitizer and practice good respiratory hygiene.

Claiming that gyms were among “high prevalence areas” from Chinese data on the viral disease, Swan told ABC that people should be conscientious of high-contact surfaces when working on their fitness and properly clean their hands before and after a sweat session.

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“[The outbreak] doesn’t mean you stop going to the gym, but it means you've got to be super careful in the gym. So you're going to wipe [things] down [there] with an alcohol hand sanitizer,” the doctor said in a Wednesday interview.

“I’m still going to the gym, but I’m wiping down before and after. I’m using hand sanitizer and taking no chances in the gym… there's so much sweat and wetness,” he continued.

“Dampness is a bad thing for spreading germs,” Swan explained. “You’ve got these big blokes pumping away …. and you never know, one of them might be a super spreader.”

When asked if saunas were safe from COVID-19, Swan suggested that gymgoers also be cautious of the steam room.

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“I wouldn’t go anywhere near any humid area, to be honest,” he said, though he acknowledged that “nobody knows” the exact effects of heat on the coronavirus right now.

When reached for comment, executives speaking on behalf of two major national gym chains told Fox News that their employees are doubling down on efforts to keep their facilities extremely clean in the fight against the coronavirus.

“Cleanliness is a top priority in our gyms around the globe and we always encourage our members to wipe down equipment after every use, and to utilize the hand sanitizer stations we provide throughout our gyms,” Adam Zeitsiff, Gold’s Gym president & CEO, said in a March 5 statement.

“In light of the current health concerns we are absolutely stepping up those efforts in each of our gyms and we will continue to watch the situation very closely,” Zeitsiff continued. “Should it worsen, we will take direction from public health officials and take whatever actions are required in order to protect our members, our team members and the general public.”

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On behalf of Snap Fitness, a spokesperson for parent company Lift Brands said the gym is working closely with its franchisee advisory council and market leaders to ensure best practices are being met and accurate information is being shared with the public.

“Our focus is helping the hundreds of small business owners we work with, our franchisees, support their communities and run their businesses responsibly during this time,” said Weldon Spangler, CEO of Lift Brands, in a statement shared on Tuesday.

The novel coronavirus has infected at least 124,518 people around the world as of Thursday morning, claiming the lives of 4,607 others.

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