Gyms can now re-open - but Virgin Active will stay closed for now

Business Insider SA

virgin active
Every second electrical piece of training equipment, including bikes and treadmills, have been disabled at Virgin Active gyms..
  • Gyms will be allowed to reopen from Tuesday, according to new regulations which have just been gazetted.
  • But Virgin Active is still waiting for government approval for its reopening plans. 
  • Members will have to book a spot in the gym, and won't be able to bring yoga mats or sweat towels.
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The new regulations for level 2 of lockdown were gazetted on Monday, which allow for gyms and fitness centres to re-open from Tuesday.

But Virgin Active - the country's biggest gym chain, with more than 700,000 members - won't be open this week.

"We are still waiting for approval from government on our Covid operational procedures and protocols, and what conditions will be imposed on our opening," a spokesperson told Business Insider SA. "We expect their review of our plan to take approximately a week, following which we will announce our opening date."

The new regulations determine that only 50 people will be allowed in a gym at any time.

See also: Gyms may open on Tuesday morning – as long as no more than 50 people are inside at a time

Virgin Active has devised an online pre-screening feature has been developed on the Virgin Active app that will allow for fast and easy access. Members' temperatures will be checked on arrival.

(Virgin Active)

The company has also taken other steps to curb the spread of the coronavirus, including strict physical distancing and investing in ventilation equipment that ensures that 100% of the air in its gyms is replaced within nine minutes.

You won’t be allowed to bring your own gym towel, or yoga mat, for hygienic purposes. Paper towels and sanitiser are provided throughout the gym, and Virgin Active yoga mats are “deep cleaned” after every session.

TAKE A LOOK: How Virgin Active gyms will change - no sweat towels and you have to book your spot

Most classes will still be offered, but some with accommodation - "Rumble" boxing classes, for example, won't use boxing gloves, which are tough to deep clean regularly. But suspension yoga – exercise with an adjustable sling – won’t be available.

Every second electrical piece of training equipment, including bikes and treadmills, has been disabled on the gym floor to ensure that members stay further apart from each other.

After using weights, members must leave them in a designated area where they will be picked up and cleaned by staff.

(Virgin Active)

Swimming is one of the safest ways to exercise – thanks to chlorinated pools, which should kill the coronavirus. Two people will be allowed per lane, and group classes will be moved from the small heated pools to the big pools to make it easier to monitor members.

Computer stations will be closed.  

Change rooms have blocks marked on the floor to keep members apart. 

(Virgin Active)

Amid high levels of continued anxiety about the coronavirus, Virgin Active staff are also being trained in resolving potential conflicts if, for example, members feel that someone else is encroaching on their space.

Virgin Active has not deducted member debit orders during lockdown in South Africa, which is the last of its eight markets that will remain closed.

Across the world, gyms have been among the first public places to close during global lockdowns. You can’t get Covid-19 from sweat, but there is nervousness about touching equipment which could be infected by saliva droplets from someone else.

The article has been updated to remove the reference to a requirement to book gym sessions beforehand. Also steam rooms and saunas may not be closed after gyms reopen. Virgin Active says final arrangements will be announced once government has approved its reopening plan.

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