With summer in full swing and South Africans kicking into overdrive working on their health and fitness goals that may have come to a standstill during the 5 month-long lockdown, Virgin Active clubs across the country are seeing a swift up take of members returning to their 136 clubs.
Throughout the period of closure, the fitness giant worked tirelessly with Government and regulatory bodies to ensure its clubs across South Africa were fit to open their doors on the 24th of August 2020, and continues to guide South Africans through the myriad of rules and safety protocols needed to be able to maintain their fitness routines.
“The lengthy list of protocols and regulations left many confused and unclear of what is and is not permitted in our clubs – and in gyms and fitness institutions across the country,” says Nikki Cockcroft, Chief Marketing and Technology Office for Virgin Active.
“We’ve spent a great deal of time adapting our clubs in such a way that our members feel at ease, and also to create a seamless experience for all who have chosen to return to our clubs at this time.”
To assist those ready to put their best foot forward – and into a deep lunge – Virgin Active has outlined the following fast facts to provide clarity on training best practice in the time of Covid-19:
Fitness first in combating Covid
It’s no secret that physical activity is good for you. According to the World Health Organisation keeping physically fit, eating healthy, and focusing on your mental health are all key to maintaining your health during the global pandemic.
Prolonged inactivity can have a negative effect on your physical and mental health. Regular physical activity benefits both the body and mind. It can reduce high blood pressure, help manage weight and reduce the risk of heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, and various cancers.
Masks are a must
Masks remain mandatory in order to enter clubs, and must be worn on entry, in public areas, and when exiting clubs. The use of masks is no longer compulsory when members are undertaking vigorous activity or high intensity training.
High intensity training or vigorous exercise intensity is defined as approximately 70% – 85% of one’s maximum heart rate and generally involves cardio classes, running, or cycling. In the event that gym goers are undertaking high intensity workouts or vigorous activity, and removing their masks, they are required to maintain a 2m distance from all other members.
Cleaning and crowd control
Clubs are now allowed to operate at 50%, and capacity can be checked and tracked using the club capacity indicator to ensure member comfort. While clubs do not require bookings, organised classes will be managed using a booking system to ensure participant numbers are not exceeded as more classes are opened and added to the roster.
Outdoor activities and classes are also being rolled out across clubs to provide alternatives to in-studio group exercise as well as some much-needed sunshine and Vitamin D for all members.
Safety remains top priority in all clubs across South Africa and staff continue to clean equipment throughout the day ensuring a safe and sanitized environment for all members. Members are also required to clean equipment and their hands before and after use and are provided with sanitization products.
Just keep swimming
As we close out October in the midst of the country’s first round of heat waves of the season, there’s no better way to keep active while staying cool – and that’s through swimming. Almost all club pools are now open to members, including swim class offerings and aqua classes. Swimming remains an essential life skill, and coaches across the country are gearing up to get Virgin Active members swim-savvy regardless of age.
“For many it is tough enough to maintain a strict and regulated gym routine – and this was before the pandemic hit our shores in early 2020, says Cockcroft.
“We were thrilled when given the green light to welcome our members back, and we remain committed to supporting, motivating, and inspiring South Africans looking to reverse the effects of ‘detraining’, or the scientific loss of fitness.”
Following the extended payment holiday for members who weren’t ready to return in August, fees remained frozen on a voluntary basis for the months of September and October.
Those who are interested in returning to clubs before the holiday ends are encouraged to visit their local club for a tour of the facilities and safety protocols, and can discuss safety concerns on arrival.
Members over 60 years of age have been granted an extension on their membership freeze and Virgin Active will continue to communicate updates to this policy.
“The first point of call was to get our clubs in shape, then our protocols, and now our focus is getting our members active and feeling great – especially as we continue to launch new products like our 30 day programmes!
We’re excited to welcome back the next wave of members who began making their return to our clubs on 1 November, with a host of new propositions and additional classes and facilities geared to suit all of our member’s needs,” concludes Cockcroft.