As the global pandemic rages on, many remain wary of workout facilities. Such places are likely to be an ideal breeding ground for COVID-19, teeming with germs due to excessive physical exertion.

“We’ve had to limit the amount of people that can go into that space at one time,” said Jackie Myles, who recently retired after 20 years as lead fitness instructor at McConnell Air Force Base.

Myles said the key to maintaining a healthy workout environment is following proper social distancing guidelines. McConnell Air Force Base’s workout facilities now have markers on the ground for social distancing and every other treadmill and workout bike is cordoned off.

Other pandemic-era etiquette includes staff and/or patrons wiping down equipment after each use, and bringing your own hand sanitizer and water bottle to avoid more unnecessary touching of surfaces.

“They’ve all set protocols in place where people are being safe, and are able to have effective workouts,” Myles said of Wichita-area fitness centers, such as the YMCA.

Personal trainer Terrill Beverly said most of the patrons at Woodside Health and Tennis Club in Westwood, KS, where he offers both virtual and in-person one-on-one trainings, are diligent about following COVID-19 safety guidelines.

“For the people who are consistently in the gym, we don’t want the gym to shut back down,” Beverly said. “This is our livelihood.”

For those wanting to get back to the gym, Beverly suggests observing the gym first to see if everyone at the gym is following the rules. He said to take social distancing especially seriously, watching out for those who may be too close.

“Right now, that’s inconsiderate,” Beverly said. “So, just trying to respect other people’s space is big.”

For those still uncertain about returning to the gym, both Myles and Beverly recommend virtual workouts, and virtual fitness communities. Free workout instruction can be found on Youtube, and also via Zoom and Facebook Live.

FiGi Marie, owner of FiGi Marie Fitness began her Kansas City-based business after identifying opportunity in the pandemic to begin hosting virtual group workouts, which have been thriving since.

Knowing it can be tough to stay motivated when working out from home, Marie said she recommends finding a virtual workout group or friend that can help hold you accountable.

In her own sessions, she mixes her boxing, fighting and dancing expertise to make each workout completely different, which helps prevent monotonous and repetitive workouts that aren’t as enjoyable.

When working out from home, whether virtual or on your own, Marie also suggests investing in some basic equipment like a jump rope, resistance bands, kettlebells, hand weights, and keeping it all in a separate space to workout in.

“So, there’s no excuse not to work out, you may just not want to work out with a big group,” Myles noted. “There are plenty of opportunities to stay connected, even if you don’t meet in person. I really encourage people to let them know they don’t have to do this alone, and they don’t have to give up their fitness routine because they are alone.”

Jazzlyn "Jazzie” is the former senior reporter for our team, who joined the company in 2020 in the midst of the pandemic, through the Report for America service program. For the past two years, she covered...

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