Is it safe to go to the gym?

I have not been to my gym since Covid started. I miss working out. I am fully vaccinated, but I am still apprehensive about going to the gym, especially since I live in an area with a lot of anti-vaxxers. Seeking opinions. Thanks!

Gonna have to make up your own mind about that. I’d worry less about anti-vaxxer prevalence in your area and more about the actual current COVID prevalence in your area, as that’s a better metric of your odds of exposure. check Google:

Assuming you are in the US, note that you can select your state and even your county to see what the current daily new case count is, along with a history plot. Here in Michigan, it’s as low as it was back in March 2020; if I were a fully vaccinated gym rat, I think I would probably feel OK about working out in a local gym. I might feel differently if I lived in, for example, Missouri.

I’m personally waiting until Sept 1 to make a decision. Gyms are still closed up here, but according to plan should be able to open on July 21 with masking and capacity restrictions in place.

I go for one-on-one Pilates. The place I go is a bit crunchy-granola, I want to verify they are fully vaccinated before I return.

Moved to The Quarantine Zone from IMHO.

From the stats about breakthrough infections, it seems like being vaccinated has around the same risks as having the flu with regards to serious complications. If you went to the gym during flu season, going now may be about the same for your COVID risk. You can greatly reduce your potential risk by wearing a mask in the gym.

But one thing about the gym that I still don’t understand is why it’s not the site of major outbreaks for all kinds of diseases. Certainly some people get sick at the gym, but I’ve gone to the gym for decades and rarely get sick. And lots of people are gym regulars and they don’t seem to be dropping like flies during cold and flu season. It seems like gyms would be the perfect place for major outbreaks, but for some reason that doesn’t seem to happen.

The vaccine provides protection against transmission, by significantly reducing the amount of viral particles in your nose and upper throat. This is why the CDC says you can go without a mask if you have been fully vaccinated.

You will probably be fine, but I suspect the gym will limit the number of people attending.

The other issue is we will never reach herd immunity because many people are resistant to getting the vaccine. You can’t change your life forever when you’ve done the right thing but others haven’t.

Everything in life is a risk, and that was true even before COVID-19. On the one hand, the COVID-19 vaccines are really amazingly effective. On the other hand, you could still catch any of a number of other diseases from folks at the gym. You could get cancer from the cleaning solutions the gym is using to sanitize all the surfaces. You could exercise yourself into a heart attack. Or, you could be one of the very small percentage of cases for which the vaccine didn’t work: Almost zero is not the same thing as zero.

Or, of course, you could suffer health problems from not getting enough exercise, that you could have avoided by going to the gym.

I think it really depends on your gym. I’ve been going back for months now, but my gym is very spacious (and dare I say, in an affluent area of well educated people). They’ve also converted a couple of indoor tennis courts into additional gym space, and everyone is expected to spray and wipe down equipment before and after use. It’s also a lot quieter than normal as others stay home, so it’s actually a rather lovely place to be. I feel very safe there.

The large/vast majority of regular gym goers wipe down the equipment when finished.

Exercise boosts your immune system slightly. This probably gives some protection against ordinary flu and colds. You yourself might simply rarely get sick. (Same here.)

I hardly see gyms as outbreak centers compared to most workplaces. If anything, the gym should be safer: you spend less time there, and nobody wants to lift weights while they’re sneezing.

I’ve been going 5 out of 7 days for about a year. It’s a small gym and during the height of the pandemic there were people who masked and some didn’t. Everyone wiped down the equipment after use and kept socially distancing. Think it depends on how comfortable you are. Risk reward I guess.

Yeah, but the virus is airborne, so that shouldn’t make a difference, right?

@running_coach was responding to a question about “all kinds of diseases,” not just “the virus.”

Still, my impression (which may be wrong—I’m not a gym-goer) is that the main reason people wipe down the equipment is that it’s kinda gross to have to touch other people’s sweat. But “kinda gross” doesn’t mean contagious; are there diseases that are passed through sweat, or more generally, by not wiping down gym equipment after you’ve used it?

Are you one of the more at-risk people for COVID? Are you overweight, over 65, suffering from long-term health conditions such as COPD or diabetes? If so, the uncertain level of protection the vaccine offers against new variants might be enough reason to stay home. If you’re comfortable with your odds of survival should you be infected, though, I say go for it. I’ve been advocating for caution as an ethical stance, but I feel like we’re at the point now where pretty much everyone in this country at least who wants the vaccine can get it, and I’m done putting my life on hold to protect others.

Our setup is similar. While they didn’t have the luxury of tennis-courts-worth of space, they did expand the weight/machine area into what was previously a seating area, so everyone should be able to stay a good distance apart when weight lifting. On the cardio floor they spaced out the machines as well. They have spray bottles and rags for every person, instead of a shared bottle and shared paper towel dispenser, so you don’t have to touch other peoples’ stuff and you have no excuse not to spray.

All that coupled with the fact that many people are still staying away from the gym makes it seem pretty safe up in there.

I do wonder, though, with all of the heavy breathing and the previous tight spacing of equipment in gyms, why there’s not more respiratory diseases being spread around.

My gym (Family Recreation Center, actually) happens to be pretty spacious and airy but there’s a Planet Fitness down the road which is in a fairly tight space, and Orange Theory is in an even smaller space.

I know but remember in the beginning we didn’t know that. They had us sanitizing our groceries etc.

The gym is one of the worst places to be if you’re worried about coming into contact with COVID. And that CDC data predates the most recent and highly transmissible variants, which are now beginning to make their way through the US population.

OP, I think the real question I would ask is, how do you think you’d fare if you ended up getting COVID? Obviously, getting vaccinated is a huge line of defense, but breakthrough infections can, and do, occur, and if you have underlying conditions, it is still possible that you could be one of the handful of people who get seriously ill. If you’re vaccinated, under 50, have stable blood pressure, are not immuno-compromised, and aren’t at risk of developing diabetes, then I think the worst that could happen is, you get sick and miss a few days of work.

But if any of the above risk factors apply to you, and particularly if several of those boxes are checked, then I would seriously re-think going to the gym, even having had both doses.

Another important factor is ventilation. If the gym or any indoor space is ventilated such that airflow goes out of the building, then that’s a plus. I’ve not seen many indoor-only gyms that have this feature but perhaps there’s an indoor-outdoor gym that might.

On the other hand, some of those conditions are also good arguments in favor of going to the gym. If you’re overweight, for instance, that has risks all by itself even without COVID, and regular exercise might help you to become not-overweight. So there’s a health risk from going to the gym, and also a health risk from not going.

If you want to get a workout without going to the gym, there are many excellent streaming exercise programs you can use in the safety of your own home with little or no equipment. A couple of the major ones are:

  • Les Mills On Demand - Online versions of many of the same programs taught in gym classes, like BodyPump, BodyCombat, and lots more

  • Beachbody On Demand - Various workouts and nutrition programs

There are also a ton of other ones which do yoga, barre, Zumba, etc. Certainly it can be more enjoyable working out at the gym, but often you can get just about the same workout at home.