Australia's Chief Medical Officer, Brendan Murphy, said on the ABC’s Insiders program that we don't need to avoid going to the gym – yet. “I think the gym is fine, but everybody needs to practice good hygiene". Although he did recommend washing your hands, using hand sanitisers and taking other measures to practise good personal hygiene. But if you're still worried, you may decide that suspending your membership is a better option. But will your gym let you put your membership on hold during the coronavirus pandemic?
With reports of boot camp classes being interrupted to wipe down equipment before continuing, it's easy to think your trip to the gym to stay fit could be a risk.
Dr. David Thomas, a professor of medicine and director of the infectious-diseases division of the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in the United States has told some reporters that transmission via sweat is not a concern. However, the virus can survive on surfaces such as metal weight plates or treadmills.
So, will your gym let you suspend your membership because of coronavirus? It turns out, the answer to that will depend on your membership agreement.
A spokesperson from Anytime Fitness told Lifehacker Australia its membership agreement allowed members to suspend memberships for up to three months without needing to provide a reason. However, the agreement also says Goodlife can close clubs if directed by a court. If that happens, you may still have to pay fees so it's worth keeping an eye on the news and suspending your membership before that happens, just in case.
Virgin Active updated their policy since we first published this story. Here's what they're saying:
During the time our clubs will be closed, we will be automatically freezing all of our memberships with no fees to pay until the clubs re-open (including members who have already frozen their membership). We will credit members with the pro-rata membership dues already paid for the period from 23 to 25 March 2020 in the first direct debit after we reopen. Swimsters members will be credited next term for classes they will miss this term due to the closure.
We will continue to monitor the situation and will keep you updated on any developments relating to your club and your membership as soon as we can.
Although our clubs are closed, our website and social channels will be full of health advice and work outs that you can do at home and keep an eye out on your email for updates. We encourage all of our members to exercise and stay healthy during these uncertain times. If you have any questions about the closure, please contact us here.
The conditions are a little different at Jetts. Membership holds there are limited to eight weeks per year and you need to notify the club in writing.
Fitness First was similar to Jetts. It also allowed up to 8 weeks of membership suspension per year although there was a "time freeze fee for all memberships" or $8 per fortnight.
After we published this story, Fitness First provided the following statement:
Fitness First acknowledges the current situation with regards to coronavirus and the health and safety of our members is our main priority. We understand the need to take preventative measures to reduce further illness during this time. We fully support any members' decision to freeze their membership and have therefore updated our Time Freeze policy in line with this. We encourage members to contact our team at [email protected] to arrange Time Freeze.
In short, the coronavirus pandemic doesn't have an immediate impact on gym memberships. But the situation is fluid as the federal and state governments continue to update their advice. So, grab a copy of your gym's membership agreement and pay careful attention to the membership freeze and suspension clauses. As well as looking at whether you can suspend your membership, look into what happens if the gym is forced to close.