There has been a lot of speculation recently as to what awaits us when we are finally free to return to the gym. Online publications and social media, in particular, have been awash with concepts for the 'Coronavirus gym', including photographs of men and women exercising isolated in plastic boxes and wearing spit guards on their faces. The immediate future is, apparently, one dominated by risk, a flight to safety and hand sanitiser.
I question how much of this will be reassuring to people or whether it will actually discourage people even further from returning to the gym because it suggests that danger is all around?
The realities of Coronavirus are real and to respected, but for myself, particularly when the threat of the disease is retreating, I wonder whether in the current atmosphere of minimising all risk and exposure to our common humanity we are also creating problems for the future in terms of our mental health and social confidence.
For me, one of the appeals of the gym (or indeed, any shared training situation or environment) has been the commonality of the training experience, as shared by a regular group of people. Exercise and training, whether for health or aesthetic reasons, remain almost tribal activities even today, which also brings with them a positive and inclusive social experience. We workout together, even if only side by side, undertaking different forms of training and we share the same physical and mental space.
Recently I have been exercising outdoors, which has been a hugely positive experience for me partly because, by training in various parks, I have shared those outdoor spaces with people also working out. There may not have been roofs over the parks but we were all in the same space, working towards the common goal of the body and mind beautiful.
I hope that we (all of us interested in health and fitness) do not lose that commonality, whatever the future holds. Because if we do, then we face a potentially grim and isolating future, regardless of how safe it may make us feel.