Sunday, September 20, 2020

Locker Room Talk


So, starting on September 8, the Columbia Association has reopened locker rooms at its health club facilities. There’s a link to the new rules on their Facebook page. I know I saw some adverts about their fancy new sanitizing capabilities, but, since they are adverts, I can’t nail down their exact location. So, I headed to the website.

The Columbia Association website at the moment is primarily a launchpad to get people back to the gym. You wouldn’t know from the look of it that CA has any other function. You can learn about how they are striving to bring people back through their Reopening Playbook. They’re touting:

  • More alcohol-based hand sanitizer units throughout our facilities.
  • More gym wipe canisters (anti-bacterial/virus wipes), available everywhere.
  • New Air Purifying Fans with UV light filters designed to kill over 99% of surface bacteria and viruses and 97% of airborne viruses.
  • HVAC systems have been adjusted in all locations to increase the air turnover rate by increasing the intake of outside air and operating the exhaust fans on high.
  • Electrostatic sanitizing units are used in all fitness centers and Haven that kill 99% of cold/rhinovirus and flu viruses and MRSA. All gym equipment and facility surfaces are sprayed daily.

So, what do you think? Are we at a point in this pandemic that it is safe to use shared locker room facilities, which, by nature, are filled with plenty of moist air? Do we have confidence that other CA members will respect public health boundaries while at the gym and in the locker rooms? 

Do we really know for sure that any of these new-fangled sanitizing methods are effective against COVID? This could be a devoted community organization springing into action to meet the needs of its customers or it could be a desperate act of “security theatre” to bring people back in the door when funds are dangerously low.

 I don’t know.

If you are the kind of person who has made it a regular practice to work out at a CA facility, then you know far more than I what this decision means. I’m not a go-to-the gym kind of person. If you rely on regular exercise for your well-being you may have been struggling during a time when this has been limited or down right taken away. So, I’m asking you. 

How important is it for CA to reopen locker rooms at this point? Would you use them? Do you have concerns about locker rooms becoming a vector for the further spread of COVID as we continue to “reopen” in Howard County?

Oh, and while we are at it, I used to get regular emails from CA cluing me in on all this stuff. I miss those.

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