The Jakarta Post
This article is part of The Jakarta Post’s "Forging the New Norm" series about how people are adjusting to the new realities of COVID-19 in Indonesia.
Something has been missing in Brigitha Sesilya’s life in the past few months. The current COVID-19 pandemic, which has forced people to shelter at home to slow the spread of the disease, has prevented her from going to the gym.
Before the pandemic, the 29-year-old news editor loved to go to the fitness center to work out three to five times a week.
“If I had a lot of free time, I would spend up to two and a half hours at the gym, joining a [fitness] class and doing some weight training. Other than that, I usually spend one to one and a half hours at the gym,” she told The Jakarta Post recently.
Now, as gyms are still closed, she tries to exercise at home or in outdoor areas like around Sunter Lake in North Jakarta.
“I have been longing to exercise at the gym because I feel like I can’t fully exercise at home,” she said, adding that she would not immediately rush back when gyms start to open.
The government’s COVID-19 task force announced last month that fitness centers could reopen to a limited number of visitors and under strict health protocols. In mid-June, the Youth and Sports Ministry issued a health protocol for public sporting activities during the new normal, which requires fitness centers to limit the number of people using their facilities to only 10 at the same time.
Pregnant women and people over 45 years old, however, are not allowed to exercise at fitness centers, the protocol stated.
But Jakarta, which is transitioning to the post-COVID-19 new normal and has gradually reopened malls, offices and restaurants, has yet to allow fitness centers to resume operations following soaring numbers of infections. On Monday alone, the capital reported 473 new COVID-19 cases.
Sports physician Andi Kurniawan said gyms were high-risk areas for COVID-19 transmission.
“When someone does physical training like running on the treadmill and they pant, they could release droplets into the air and there is potential for the virus to spread,” he said.
“Gyms are indoor facilities, and various studies show that exercising indoors poses a higher risk of infection compared to exercising outdoors. So, it is very important for gyms to apply strict health protocols to prevent the spread of the virus."
Andi, director of Indonesian Sports Performance Enhancement Center (SPPOI) Eminence, said there must be a clear timeline that regulates the resumption of gyms.
He cited SPPOI Eminence as an example. The center’s gym, which caters to professional athletes and the public, is still closed, but its health clinic reopened last month when Jakarta entered the transition period. The gym will gradually open after a thorough evaluation.
“As the pandemic is still far from over, exercising alone at home is the safest way,” Andi said.
Gym chain Fitness First Indonesia plans to limit the number of visitors by using a booking system through a new mobile application called Fitness First Asia. Members are required to book their time at the gym through the app.
Fitness First Indonesia senior general manager Nurhayati Villy said the chain’s gyms would be limited to 50 percent capacity and operate under strict safety measures, such as ample space between equipment to ensure physical distancing and disinfecting the equipment every three hours.
Facilities like the sauna, steam room and swimming pool will still be closed to prevent the spread of the disease, she added.
“We strongly recommend that members bring their own towels and exercise clothes, even though we will still provide them.”