As the mask debate continues to heat up nationwide, more businesses are mandating masks, and that includes fitness centers. Some are asking if wearing a mask during a workout is safe.
Planet Fitness sent an email to its members telling them they will be required to wear masks at its gym locations beginning Aug. 1.
Members will have to wear them at all times, per the fitness center’s guidelines, which means on the treadmill or while lifting weights.
Some local Planet Fitness members told us they joined to escape other gyms’ mask requirements. The concern: How safe is it to wear a mask exercising when you already feel out of breath?
“I’m a little surprised that it hasn’t been required yet,” James Nisson said.
At one of the country’s largest gym franchises, planet fitness.
“I’ll comply. If it helps prevent people from getting sick, then, that’s cool,” Rick Blaquiere said.
“I’m actually coming here to cancel my membership,” Tiffany Noel said. “I don’t agree with the mask requirement. I think it’s very dangerous to workout wearing a mask.”
We asked Dr. Rebekah Bernard, the president of Collier County Medical Society, if the trending mask requirements at gyms are safe.
“The World Health Organization released a statement a couple of weeks ago where they did not recommend exercising with a mask on,” “However, that being said, a lot of experts, exercise physiologists and physicians will say that it is most likely safe for the average person to exercise, as long as they take certain precautions while they’re wearing a mask.”
Those precautions include watching for earlier signs of exercise fatigue because of less air flow.
“Any signs of distress, shortness of breath, dizziness, chest pain, anything that’s unusual,” Bernard said. “They need to take a break immediately and go to a place where they can safely remove their masks.”
If possible, wear something breathable and washable. But, after 30 minutes, any fabric will likely get damp and become less effective.
“So, if you’re going to be in the gym longer than that, maybe you carry a spare,” said Bindu Mayi, a professor of microbiology with Nova Southeastern University.
But some won’t be coming back at all.
“We do our best to clean every machine and stay away from each other,” Noel said. “Wearing a mask is a no go for me,” said.
Others still think it makes sense.
“I think it’s gonna be good for us,” Nisson said. “Obviously, it’s spreading pretty bad around here.”
If you have a medical exemption or just don’t want to wear it, Planet Fitness says you can freeze your membership.
The experts we spoke to say, if you have severe, underlying conditions, talk to a doctor before exercising with a mask on.