Gyms not Covid-19 hotspots

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Fitness enthusiasts of the Dream Team Gym show off their chiselled bodies. From the left are Timo Fourie, Moleboheng Pholoana, Rethabile Modise, Brandon Molong, Lebohang Mahoko and Dylan Jadison. Photo: Teboho Setena
Fitness enthusiasts of the Dream Team Gym show off their chiselled bodies. From the left are Timo Fourie, Moleboheng Pholoana, Rethabile Modise, Brandon Molong, Lebohang Mahoko and Dylan Jadison. Photo: Teboho Setena

Global data has revealed that gyms and fitness clubs are not super-spreaders for Covid-19.

Findings were made by the International Health, Racquet and Sportsclub Association (IHRSA), a trade association serving the health and fitness club industry.

The organisation’s research results prove gyms and fitness clubs play a significant role to strengthen immune systems to fight off disease, maintain a healthy lifestyle and minimising the risk infection by Covid-19, as well as other opportunistic illness.

Physical activity may help flush bacteria out of the lungs and airways, and thus may reduce chances of getting a cold, flu, or other illness.

In South Africa, a similar positive picture has emerged.

Research has found that in South Africa, large gatherings are the highest risk of Covid-19 infection at 42%, followed by homes and family (35%), and shops at only 2%.

However, fitness clubs and gyms are not listed as high-risk areas for Covid-19 to spread.

Research from health and fitness brand Planet Fitness South Africa, using 2,7 million check-ins through the entry turnstiles of its 47 clubs across the country, was found to correspond with the research done around the world.

“South Africa is seeing the same trend as the United Kingdom, Australia and America, which shows that with high levels of sanitation, constant communication, new behaviours, protocols and risk mitigation in place, health and fitness clubs are safe and low risk for contracting Covid-19,” said Gillian Elson of Planet Fitness SA, which services over 250 000 members across the country.

Lebohang Mahoko, director of the Dream Team Gym in Bloemfontein, has echoed research findings.

“Research results justify our advocacy for the government to not close gyms and fitness clubs,” said Mahoko.

“I have not received any report of any member testing positive for Covid-19 since we opened in the gym in August last year.

“Everyone adheres to prevention measures and follows regulations. We allow partners to train together, but no sharing of showers.”

According to Moleboheng Pholoana and Rethabile Modise, fitness training sessions have helped shaping up and losing between 20 kg and 25 kg in weight over four months since joining the gym.

“I was at risk of obesity, as I weighed over 85 kg. I am happy now with my current weight around 68 kg. More so, I believe my Covid-19 risk infection is lower because I exercise regularly,” said Modise.

“I am not at risk of developing an underlying condition and stress, since I train regularly. I found a gym to be a perfect remedy,” said Pholoana.

The various levels of lockdown compliance locally have meant that South African gyms have had to reduce the number of members working out at once since September last year.

“I am not at risk of developing an underlying condition and stress, since I train regularly. I found a gym to be a perfect remedy.”

– Moleboheng Pholoana

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