On Tuesday (March 17), the cabinet will decide whether or not to close venues that attract more than 50 people. This has left many gym-goers wondering if the temporary closure of venues will include the large number of gyms operating in Bangkok.
“We have no plans to close the gym yet, unless we are forced to by the government,” said Ploy Bhinsaeng, owner of TRIBE Gym in Bangkok.
According to most gym management, the overall day-to-day gym attendance has been the same during the COVID-19 outbreak as it was before. And even though most gyms are waiving membership freeze fees, classes are still full during peak hours regardless of the fact that fluids are more easily exchanged in gyms than in most other types of shared public spaces.
So, if the gyms aren’t going to close their doors without being forced to, and people will not stop going, how are the gyms helping to stop the spread of the outbreak?
No high-fives, please
The gyms we spoke to and visited are taking many different measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and educate members on how to be safe.
WE Fitness in Ekkamai, for example, have installed several additional sanitation stations throughout the gym. They’re also using their social media to keep the public informed of their efforts.
Ploy Bhinsaeng has come up with some other ways for people to keep their germs to themselves. At TRIBE, there will be one stationary bike between every bike that has a person on it, and most importantly:
Refraining from high-fives after class.
Most gyms are also doing the same thing you see at offices and other shared spaces, which is checking temperatures before people are allowed entry into the building.
Foreigners not welcomed
Taking a different (and controversial) route to prevent the spread of COVID-19 however is Fitfac Muay Thai gym in Ekkamai.
“For now, we are not allowing any foreigners to come to the gym to workout. We don’t know who they are, where they have been, or who their friends are. The foreigners could have been in contact with other foreigners, who have been to other places that they don’t know of. So for now, we cannot allow foreigners to use our gym.”
The manager of Fit Fac, going by the nickname of Ball, stressed that the gym cannot be closed, because the staff cannot survive without their salary. Therefore, the best way to keep everyone safe is to ensure that the only people coming and going from the gym are Thai nationals, who have not traveled in the last 14 days.