For many F45 members, a high-intensity workout doesn’t end until a round of high fives with other patrons and staff. But across Sydney, some trainers at the fitness franchise have asked punters to avoid too much physical contact as a direct response to the Australian coronavirus outbreak.
Speaking to PEDESTRIAN.TV, F45 Newtown member Katie Cunningham said classes usually end with visitors forming two parallel lines and high fiving every person who walks through.
Staff dodged that farewell yesterday morning.
“I think they said, ‘You guys can still high five each other if you want,'” she said.
“They just mentioned that, class started, and then we just didn’t high five at the end.”
PEDESTRIAN.TV has reached out to F45 Newtown for comment.
Other members took to social media to share similar experiences at different venues, while the Surry Hills F45 studio published an Instagram Story yesterday confirming high fives will be postponed “for the foreseeable future”.
Mine too. Now doing weird elbow thing & waves— Marc Fennell (@MarcFennell) March 9, 2020
The precaution comes amid a rising concerns for the virus’ spread in Australia.
There have been 100 confirmed cases of coronavirus nationwide, with 54 of those in New South Wales. Several schools in the state have suspended classes after students and staff displayed symptoms associated with the illness. Sadly, three Australians have died as a result of the virus.
It is understood F45 management has not provided franchisees with any hard-and-fast rules regarding high fives, allowing individual trainers to decide if they want to go ahead with the sweaty ritual. The company has been approached for comment.
Some studios are moving forward with the practice.
“No, it hasn’t affected us at all,” one F45 trainer from one Sydney CBD studio said. “High fives all around.”
The staff member urged “immediate communication” from members who fear they may have come into contact with an infected person, but was confident in the hygiene practices already promoted by the gym.
“We have extra sanitary options, like hand sanitiser, [cleaning] wipes, extra kinds of cleaning protocols. It’s not like it’s an unknown thing that’s happening in the community,” they said.
It’s understood similar practices are in place in F45 studios across Melbourne.
Despite community fears for the virus, the Sydney trainer said, “It’s totally safe to continue training.”
Some experts agree. Speaking to The New York Times, Dr. David Thomas, director of Division of Infectious Diseases at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, said you’re more likely to contract the virus at church than at a gym, given the likelihood of shaking hands and prolonged proximity to others.
Notably, coronavirus cannot be spread through sweat. Still, Dr. Thomas said surfaces which often receive skin contact, like barbells, ought to be cleaned with an appropriate alcohol-based solution.
Cunningham voiced her belief that, if anything, maintaining physical health is beneficial in the current circumstances.
“I think it’s stupid not to go to the gym because of coronavirus,” she said. “You should extra go to the gym right now.”
In conversation with CNBC, Michael Knight, an assistant professor at George Washington School of Medicine and Health Services, gave some credence to that viewpoint.
“I would encourage my patients to continue getting moderate amounts of physical activity to lower their overall risk,” he said.
Anyone who experiences symptoms associated with coronavirus, including a sore throat, runny nose, and a fever, has been advised to call their GP ahead of time to book an appointment, or to visit a designated coronavirus testing centre. Adelaide now offers a drive-through testing station, too.
That said, if you’re in good health, haven’t just returned from China, South Korea, or Iran, and have not come into contact with anyone confirmed to have the virus, you can continue sweating it out at the gym.
Maybe consider washing your hands before and after any high fives, though. Just in case.