One of the great moments of the great pandemic was reading gym owners' social media posts explaining that they weren't allowed to open, but bars for health reasons.
No one should seek medical advice from someone who is not a medical professional, or assume that the guy who just made you lift your body weight is a health professional.
Let us clarify that. Most gyms were all about looking good naked first, and then everything else. Let’s not pretend that bringing society to gyms is a salvation for society because it only sounds selfish.
All of these gym owners can correct the future situation by figuring out how to make their gyms safe for use in a pandemic world and how they can be part of the long-term solution to chronic illnesses rather than pitch pitching. It won't happen, but it's nice to think that things could change for the better.
Does that sound cynical? Well, maybe, but it's the truth and it's not the gym owners' fault that they are in the situation they are in.
They would probably like to have hundreds of members who pay them for walking or being more active, and not have to lift their weights after them or clean their room.
Because yes, most healthy activities and chronic disease reduction can be achieved without a membership of USD 150 per month or a group class of USD 20 per session.
But that's not why you're there and part of the problem and part of the solution if you only agree to be. You want this membership and you want it in a boxing gym because it has a different meaning for you.
Your gym is approximately 2,500 square meters, maybe more, maybe less, but it's not a huge, cavernous room. They have some bars and rings, dumbbells and squats, kettlbells, dumbbells, ropes and things that look well stacked on the wall. It's a dark, moody prison yard, but you love it.
You will be the type of person who spends a good hour or more in this small gym, sweats profusely, breathes heavily most of the hour, and does so with little time for the intricacies of fitness etiquette.
You drop weights, you run around, you drip sweat, you spray sweat, you are with your community of moisture freaks to the bitter end when the last bell rings.
Yes, you are probably healthier than most people. Although you would probably do the same thing whether it is healthy or not. In fact, you don't do it because of your normal physical condition, that's nice, but you do it because of performance, the need to lift more, develop a new skill, or even compete. You go to your boxing gym even if you are injured because it is your rite of passage.
And that is where the dilemma of boxing gyms opens up. They are not like the Globo-Gyms, in which treadmills and equipment take up every square meter and in which about 80% of the members never show up.
They are reducing their cholestrol by having these $ 20 monthly payments in their accounts. It reduces the stress of thinking about the actual work of the training.
Boxing gym visitors are more likely than any other gym visitor to spend most of their time in their gyms (there is an article on New Your Time that makes this clear). They are the one percent of the gym that goes public. That's about 600,000 people across 5,000 gyms (an average of about 120 people per gym) in the United States alone.
After being blocked, boxing gyms are under pressure to be safe places like they were never really designed. It's a fact, it's not insurmountable, but it can't be done by the gym owner alone.
As a member, you have to be so committed that the environment is safe for everyone. The big question is whether you are up to the task.
The health and safety problem for gyms
The International Health, Racquet & Sports Club Association (IHRSA) has a vast amount of information that it provides to its members, the owners of health clubs, about best practices for creating a safe environment.
Granted, there is no way to enforce these recommendations because there is no way to monitor their implementation. It doesn't matter who says it, what they say, and how they plan it. Ultimately, the gym you go to lives in its own deterministic universe, where the owners and the most active members have given the end results.
The biggest problem I see is the fact that the typical boxing gym is a one-stop shop for group and one-to-one classes. There is no real difference in the organization between a group of people who happen to do their own workouts and a group who follows the hourly whiteboard routine that day.
This alone creates a number of logistical problems, and to be honest it takes patience, diligence and teamwork between members and employees to enable effective protocols to be implemented in a COVID-19 world.
So you have to ask two questions:
Does your gym have a set of written guidelines and protocols for cleaning and maintaining social distance? If not, why not? Does your gym offer alternatives for members who are either uncomfortable or at higher risk? Could it be distance learning, online training or even personalized sessions in a clean environment? If not, why not?
If not, why not follow up is pretty important. I can understand how difficult it will be for boxing gyms to cope in a COVID 19 world. But the attitude is important. You will still be in a closed environment with many other people for a considerable amount of time and the likelihood that a lot of air will be shared.
If bars have been responsible for the surge lately, how different is the setup from a gym? Many people come together and have a great time.
From a purely logical point of view, this is not the best situation, but you reduce the risk and you have reduced the likelihood of an outbreak if someone is exposed to the virus. If mitigation isn't even a consideration, it should be of great importance.
As I said, it is not up to the individual business owner to determine the fate of their members. It is up to you, the paying customer, to control your own risk. Make your decisions wisely and if nothing happens, it is success.
Can you work really hard to do nothing? It goes against your mentality, but that's exactly what it will need. Time will tell how successful box gyms will be in a COVID 19 world.
We hope that community really means more than letting a few people clap for you every time you get a PR.
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