Covid 19 Your Workout

April 2, 2021

COVID-19 &
Your Workout

New research on COVID-19 infections from exercise classes as states weigh whether to reopen gyms.


  • CDC: COVID-19 spreads “mainly” person-to-person via respiratory droplets released when someone talks, sneezes, or coughs.
  • CDC: Questions remain about how effectively the virus spreads on surfaces. Hard, non-porous materials – like metal – in high traffic areas pose a risk for transmission (ex. touching an infected handle on an exercise bike and then wiping sweat from your eyes).

The Latest Science

  • New study on COVID-19 spread among fitness class attendees in South Korea.
  • 27 instructors attended a February 15 workshop before returning to 12 different gyms; unknowingly 8 instructors were infected w/ COVID-19.
  • In the following weeks, 57 of the 217 class attendees developed COVID-19.
  • Additionally, 38 family members and 17 co-workers / friends developed COVID-19. Total infections: 112.
“Because of the increased possibility of infection through droplets, vigorous exercise in closely confined spaces should be avoided during the current outbreak, as should public gatherings, even in small groups.”

The study’s authors hypothesized high-intensity workout classes held in small spaces with moist, warm air and many participants can lead to COVID-19 transmission. They noted infected instructors *appear* to not have spread the virus in yoga or pilates classes.


  • Gyms are open in 25+ states under new rules requiring precautions like social distancing, masks & reduced capacities.
  • Ohio: judge ruled state’s health dept “criminalized lawful businesses” by closing gyms & health clubs, allowing them to reopen as long as they comply w/ safety requirements.
  • Maine: delayed reopening of gyms after seeing the new study out of South Korea highlighted by CDC.

Unlike other industries (ex: schools, restaurants, places of worship), the CDC has not issued specific reopening guidance for gyms. Check out the CDC’s guidance for other industries on our source page.

CDC Industry-Specific Guidance: READ

Classes During COVID?: READ

Number 2& COVID-19: READ

by Jenna Lee,