KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 8 — Just as 2020 rolled into 2021, a spate of Covid-19 cases affecting gyms and fitness studios in the Klang Valley shook the fitness community.
Most had become familiar with the new conditions at their favourite workout studios: check-ins, face masks, smaller class sizes, and the need to bring your own towels and mats to classes.
With one popular studio which offered spin classes and other fitness activities across its more than four studios racking up more than 40 positive cases among its staff and members at last count, fitness enthusiasts are rethinking returning to their favourite studios.
“For now with the rising cases in the fitness community, I’m trying to avoid going to the gym as much as possible. This is because the gym I go to is a fitness boutique. Loads of their clients are not only attached to one gym,” said Caroline Lee, 23.
“Their going to multiple studios just increases the risk of exposure for themselves and the people around them.”
Lee, who also works part-time at a boutique gym here, tested positive for Covid-19 last week and is currently in quarantine. She was asymptomatic when she tested positive, and has only experienced minor symptoms since then.
She said gym-goers often forget about the standard operating procedures (SOPs), noting that they seem most lax when with friends.
“At times, we ourselves have to remind them and it gets difficult during peak hours because we have other things to do and the place is a bit more crowded as people are walking in and out of the studio. We have no time to ask them to socially distance,” she said.
Hiqmal Haiqal Kenneth Lim, 27, who frequents Celebrity Fitness Cyberjaya, said he too plans to put his gym-going on hold, as he’s not confident about being safe from the coronavirus in such places.
“I do have concerns. It’s because the equipment at the gym is shared by members, and on top of that, we don’t know how frequent users at the gym sanitise their hands before and after they’ve used the equipment.
“The implementation of SOPs at the gym doesn’t help much. Some gyms are small and some gyms have limited resources in terms of equipment and not to forget that some gyms are quite small,” he told Malay Mail.
However, others in the community said that they are still willing to visit their usual fitness studios, as long as safety precautions are taken.
Bryan De Souza, 26, who goes to gyms in Ayer Keroh, Melaka and Subang Jaya, said he is “a little bit concerned” about the recent spread of Covid-19 at gyms, but will continue going as long as cleanliness and physical distancing are maintained.
Lavinya Ganapathy, 28, an aerial yoga practitioner who frequents a studio in Puchong, is not worried about catching the coronavirus, saying that she only goes there about once or twice a month.
“Since I go for aerial yoga, the classes are relatively small and spaced out. They wash the cloths after each use and do follow government SOPs,” she said.
When asked if online classes would be preferred during the pandemic, Lee said the digital alternative does not provide the same experience as in-person classes.
“I don’t really like online fitness classes. It’s a different vibe compared to being in the studio. All the equipment is there, the layout, the lights and so on,” she said.
Meanwhile, Emilio Legaria, 27, founding coach at Tribe Boxing, said he has had substantial success conducting online classes after starting early when the movement control order (MCO) was implemented last March.
“The biggest challenge moving online is the human aspect. It’s much harder to communicate emotions and feelings through a screen,” he added.
This sentiment is shared by Aaron Chan, 29, head coach of Fuel Athletics, who said that the problem with virtual classes is the difficulty in correcting form and technique in group classes, adding that their programme relies heavily on equipment.
Online classes may not be ideal, but for now they could provide a temporary solution for those who want to stay fit during the pandemic.