Less than 24 hours after NSW gyms were instructed to force masks to be worn while exercising, many gym goers can now exercise mask-free.
NSW Prime Minister Gladys Berejiklian announced new Covid rules for the greater Sydney area, Central Coast, Blue Mountains, Wollongong and Shellharbour on Wednesday, making wearing of masks indoors mandatory for next week.
This included workplaces and gyms where Ms. Berejiklian stated that masks should be worn by participants attending group classes with a limited number of 20 people.
But after masked gym goers struggled through grueling fitness classes and received complaints that people “couldn’t breathe” – several gyms uncovered an obvious loophole in the rules.
The NSW Health website states, “You can take your mask off even if you are doing strenuous exercise” – except when you are in a fitness or dance class at an indoor recreational facility.
Justin Ashley, CEO of Fitness Playground in Sydney, said the verdict was “interpretable” and created a Perceived Exertion Scale (RPE) so its members know when to remove their masks.
RELATED: NSW Announces Restrictions On Gym Workouts Amid Covid Case
“It is our responsibility to act decisively to keep our members safe,” Ashley told news.com.au.
“Therefore, to give the term ‘strenuous’ a logic, we can use the modified scale of the Rating of Perceived Exertion Chart (RPE) here.”
The graph starts at 1 with very light activity and peaks at 10 with maximum effort.
“Members with an RPE of 7 or higher should not wear a mask,” said Ashley.
“Everyone has different fitness levels and respiratory health, so achieving an RPE of 7 can occur in each class.”
Regarding policy enforcement, Ashley said the team took a “people-centered approach” rather than an activity-based approach.
“What is exhausting for one person can be moderate for another. There are important variables like fitness level, health, breathing problems and many others.
“Some members will find Yoga Strength a very strenuous class, while a spin class will find something they could do for hours. Other members will be the exact opposite. “
He did stress, however, that the gyms in Marrickville, Surry Hills, and Newtown have set a benchmark for staff and members.
Orange Theory in Bondi Junction stated in an Instagram post on Thursday afternoon that its members are “not required” to wear face masks “while engaging in strenuous” activities.
The gym said members had “received further clarification from NSW Health,” stating that masks are required when entering and exiting studio and lobby areas and when moving from one station to another.
Barry’s Bootcamp Australia, which has three gyms across Sydney, announced the same move on its social media channels, stating that the strenuous exercise exemption means “no masks are required in the Red Room”. comfortable”.
Sydney Spin Studio Cycology in Surry Hills also updated members, stating that masks were an entry requirement but “could be removed during class if training becomes strenuous.”
Ms. Berejiklian said yesterday that those who exercise on exercise machines such as treadmills are not required to wear a mask.
After the new rule was enforced at 4pm on Wednesday, many gym goers used social media to express how “difficult” it was.
“It was so difficult with the mask this morning,” wrote one on Instagram.
“Legit couldn’t breathe while wearing a mask,” wrote another.
Some fitness goers took it, however, and House of Athlete in Marrickville shared footage of its members exercising in masks and posted on Instagram, “Don’t let a piece of cloth be the deciding factor in whether or not you achieve your goals.”
Continue the conversation @RebekahScanlan | [email protected]