(Virgin Active)
  • You don't have to wear a mask while doing "vigorous" exercise at the gym, new government regulations have determined.
  • But you have to stay at least two metres away from a fellow gym member at the time.
  • Saunas and childcare facilities must remain closed at gyms.
  • For more articles, go to www.BusinessInsider.co.za.

Gymgoers now don’t have to wear a mask while they do "vigorous" exercise, according to new government regulations that have been gazetted.

The regulations state that while you must wear a mask when you enter a gym, it’s not necessary when you do “vigorous activity” - provided that a distance of two metres apart is maintained.

According to Virgin Active, "vigorous" or "high intensity" exercise intensity is defined as approximately 70% to 85% of a person’s maximum heart rate.  It would apply to treadmills and exercis bikes, as well as to group classes.

Since July, South Africans are allowed “vigorous exercise” in a public place outside without a mask, if they stay at least three metres away from any other person.

According to the new regulations, gyms are still only allowed 50 persons at a time, a ruled that has caused much unhappiness in the sector.

"We are significantly constrained by the Government restriction of 50 people in a club at a time despite some clubs being as big as 5,000 m2, which means that we can only have one member per 100m2, compared to international norms of one member per 7m2," a Virgin Active spokesperson told Business Insider SA. "Gyms in this country range in size from 50m2 to 5,000m2 and a single 50 person limit for all gyms is not appropriate."

READ | What it's like to be back at the gym: it's eerily quiet and sweat towels are banned

Members must maintain a minimum distance of one and half metres from each other in “low and medium activity” areas and two metres in “high intensity” areas.

The regulations also require that all low and medium intensity workout fitness equipment must be spaced one and half metres apart, while all high intensity workout fitness equipment must be spaced two metres apart.

In studio classes, participants must remain two metres apart, and there must be a 15-minute window in between classes to allow for cleaning before other classes resume. All equipment including mats must be cleaned in between use.

Gyms must also place markers on the floor highlighting 1.5m or 2m social distancing. Saunas and steam rooms, as well as childcare facilities, must remain closed. 

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