Miami ‘gym rats’ push through COVID-19 pandemic

Both Equinox gyms in Miami's Brickell neighborhood remained open to members on Monday despite COVID-19 pandemic. (Google Streetview)

MIAMI – Natalia Pereira said going to the gym to face the risks of the COVID-19 pandemic isn’t crazy because not doing so would drive her mad.

Gyms in Miami’s Brickell neighborhood remained open on Monday morning despite public health officials’ warning that social distancing is a powerful measure against the deadly COVID-19 pandemic.

Pereira said social media posts on the outbreak and family interactions while spending more time at home than usual this weekend have both increased her stress.

“My husband is working out at home with an app and staying with the baby and my mom. I can’t do that. It’s just too much for me," Pereira wrote in a text message. “I don’t think it’s crazy to go to the gym. I tell you what, I will lose my mind if I don’t. I am wiping stuff down like always do and you know I am cautious."

While physical activity helps to strengthen the immune system and reduces health risks, the Centers for Disease Control and Protection warns viruses can survive on towels and athletic equipment, so while cleaning and disinfecting is a powerful measure, social distancing and not touching your mouth, nose or eyes is most important.

“We really care about our clients,” said an Equinox employee, who asked not to be identified. “A lot is done to make the gym safe, you know for us and for them."

The Equinox employee said the company is preparing to launch the VariisEQX fitness platform, which is “an awesome app," but he believes going to the gym for one-on-one training is best since "the corona hasn’t gotten bad here like in Italy. You could say I am a gym rat and it takes more than Peloton to keep me away.”

Equinox, Orange Theory and other area gyms have increased their cleaning and disinfecting efforts. Trainers are asking clients to be mindful of where they place their towels in the gym and the cleaning staff is wiping areas more regularly.

The American College of Sports Medicine is referring personal trainers, exercise physiologists and fitness professionals who are worried about the pandemic to follow the CDC guidelines, which include social distancing.

It is definitely easier to follow the social distancing guidelines issued by both the CDC and the World Health Organization when you are exercising outdoors. Teresa Smith, who is a breast cancer survivor and suffers from osteoporosis, said she always enjoys her early morning walks on Brickell Key.

“I don’t think the corona spread is that bad here yet to have to stay home, you know, when you are up early in the morning and not that many people are around," Smith said. “Just wake up early, go out for an early walk. It’s good for the mind and soul.”

Here is a list of safety guidelines for gym-goers:

  • Don’t go to the gym if you feel ill.
  • Cover that cough. Keep tissues handy to cover coughs and sneezes and throw away the tissue.
  • Wash your hands with soap and water for 20 seconds before, during and after your workout.
  • Create habits and reminders to avoid touching your face. Protective gloves aren’t useful if you touch your eyes, nose and ears.
  • Disinfect surfaces and wash workout clothes with warm water.

Source: The Centers for Disease Control and Protection

About the Author:

The Emmy Award-winning journalist joined the Local 10 News team in 2013. She wrote for the Miami Herald for more than 9 years and won a Green Eyeshade Award.