After almost six months, the wait is finally over! Yes, the government has finally given gyms the green light to reopen!
Virgin Active has already safely re-opened in Italy, the UK, Australia, Singapore, Thailand, Namibia and Botswana, and will be using this experience to implement international best practice in screening, hygiene and social distancing in its South African clubs.
According to the gym chain’s official statement: “Our number one priority is to provide a safe environment for our members and staff,”
The new gym experience
Here’s what members who are eager and ready to return to gym from Tuesday, 18 August can expect:
Virgin Active gyms have adapted the floor layouts and class capacities to apply social distancing without compromising on the range and quality of services available to ensure members can still enjoy all their favourite classes and workouts.
Hygiene is the main priority in all areas of the gym.
Virgin Active health and hygiene crew will regularly sanitise and disinfect equipment and spaces throughout the day using hospital-grade cleaning protocols. Hand sanitiser stations are conveniently located throughout the club. And fresh filtered air will be circulated on high frequency for increased ventilation.
The entry protocol
The gym chain requests that members arrive dressed and ready to train if they can as this will reduce potential contact in the locker rooms.
You’ll be screened on arrival. Digital temperature screening is a quick and effective way to confirm if someone has a fever and might be unwell. It’s a quick, necessary step before members enter a club. Member access is now also completely contactless and club capacity is carefully monitored throughout the day.
You’ll also need to complete a quick questionnaire before entering to confirm if you have experienced any symptoms. A ‘yes’ will, unfortunately, mean you may not enter to train.
Social distancing made easy
Working out the distance you need to keep between yourself and a fellow gym-goer can be tricky, but Virgin Active’s GRID lines marked out at reception, in the change rooms, on the gym floor and in the studios take the guessing game out of social distancing.
The change rooms will also be a focal area for intensive cleaning efforts. Based on government guidelines, signs will be posted indicating restrictions for the water fountains, steam rooms and saunas.
Using the equipment
All equipment has been spaced according to regulations or decommissioned to allow adequate distance between members and their fellow gym-goers.
Members can drop off used weights at clearly marked out zones where they will be sanitised after their session.
Disinfectant spray and paper towelling are provided on the gym floor and in the studios, which members must use to wipe down equipment before and after use.
Gym towels, which can spread the virus from surface to surface, are prohibited for now. Members will be requested to bring a single-use disposable wipe, or to use the paper towels provided.
Non-contact PT sessions
To protect members and staff, no physical contact is permitted during training sessions. All team members will keep their masks on all day.
Members will be encouraged or required (depending on Government guidelines) to wear masks. Virgin Active will also have training masks available for sale in our clubs or online at www.virginactive.co.za.
Group classes are also back on the timetable. Virgin Active has optimised timetables and adapted classes without compromising on the great workout you expect. Members can join their favourite class with fewer people per class, with everyone in a dedicated space demarcated by a GRID box. You will need to book your class on the app beforehand to participate.
The health and hygiene team will do the all-important job of sanitising and disinfecting the space and the equipment before and after each class, with a focus on high-touch areas.
Nutrition on the run
While sit-down meal services will remain closed, you can use the Kauai app to conveniently order your healthy takeaway for post-workout nutrition.
And for members who are not yet ready to return to gym, Virgin Active will continue to freeze their membership at no cost for at least a further two months.
Virgin Active has also launched a digital membership option via the app and on www.virginactive.co.za/coach. This offers over 350 live and on-demand workouts from instructors around the world at no additional cost for members.
Access is available to non-members at R99p.m. for online-only and an R199p.m. for online plus one club visit per month. Online personal training is also available for people who don’t live close to a Virgin Active club or who wish to train in the comfort of their own home.
However you choose to train in level 2 and beyond, the time has come to get back on track because the work for that summer body starts now!
Author: Pedro van Gaalen
When he’s not writing about sport or health and fitness, Pedro is probably out training for his next marathon or ultra-marathon. He’s worked as a fitness professional and as a marketing and comms expert. He now combines his passions in his role as managing editor at Fitness magazine.