Gyms face two-front war in COVID-19 battle: “Super Spreaders” vs “Germaphobes”


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Mike Neumann first started Fit Body U in Bourbonnais, Illinois nearly six years ago.

His members are like family, with trainers actively working with the community daily. They monitor their clients, offering free training, as well as maintaining their machines. On Fit Body U’s Facebook page, Neumann regularly uses the term ‘neighborhood fitness center’ because the community so tightly knit.

“It takes a lot for our members to miss a workout. They have a plan, they are seeing progress so it’s hard to slow them down but everybody is aware of what is going on in the world and we are prepared for it at Fit Body” said Neumann, who’s well aware of the ongoing battle against COVID-19.

So is Dr. Norman Swan, a Scottish Australian physician, journalist and broadcaster who started “Coronacast” a daily Coronavirus podcast. Swan is a regular patron of the gym himself. “One of the high prevalence areas from some of the Chinese, are gyms. It doesn’t mean you stop going to the gym, you’ve got to be super careful in the gym.”

Neumann himself tries his best to keep in touch with other fitness centers in the area, sharing ideas and strategies as well but has yet to discuss with his colleagues what they’re doing to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

“I’m sure (gym owners) are doing all they can, making aware of and encouraging their members to wipe down their equipment and wash their hands. In a situation like the spread of coronavirus, most fitness centers are already prepared for it and most are stepping their games up even more now.” Neumann says.

One of those gyms stepping up their game is Planet Fitness, which has now placed sanitation policies at the forefront for members in various locations that reinforce vigorous cleaning efforts at the facility. From team members who regularly clean all equipment, services, and areas of the gym floor with disinfectant supplies in addition to regular overnight cleanings.

“There’s so much sweat and wet, dampness is a bad thing for spreading germs.” Dr. Swan says, “You’ve got these big (guys) out there who are pumping away and they couldn’t give a damn about the coronavirus and one of them might be a super-spreader.
I don’t want it to be in my gym.”

Neither does Neumann, who’s gone above and beyond to make Fit Body U an area example. The neighborhood gym has gone above and beyond his staff, reaching out to A Touch of Glass Cleaning Service to come in and aid his cleaning crew.

“Members have been using more wipes and paper towels than usual so everyone is more aware and have stepped up their cleaning habits. We certainly cannot rely on members to always get the job done, so a cleaning staff is necessary. A Touch of Glass came in at the perfect time for us. They know how to protect our members from getting sick,” Neumann tells us.

Meanwhile, Dr. Swan says not to take any chances. “You’ve got to wipe down, make sure there’s alcohol there, hand sanitizer, I mean I’m still going to the gym but what I’m doing is I’m wiping down before, after, I’m using hand sanitizer, I’m rubbing the hand sanitizer on the lip, I’m not taking any chances.”

As of publishing, COVID-19 has killed nearly 6,000 people worldwide with over 150,000 people testing positive for the virus. In March, President Trump suggested at a rally “the virus,” will “miraculously” go way by April as warmer weather approaches. Some of the hardest-hit countries, like Australia, have an average March temperature of 71 degrees Fahrenheit.

So wouldn’t a good steam woe those virus troubles?

Dr. Swan suggests avoiding steam rooms altogether. “I don’t go into the steam room. I wouldn’t go into any humid area, to be honest. That steam room has to be so hot to get rid of the virus, some people love that. I’d avoid them for the moment.”

As for investing time at the gym, that’s up to you, Neumann advises.

“I say to go to the gym at your own risk. If you are sick, your body is trying to tell you that it needs rest. Not to mention if you workout while sick it’ll only take your body longer to recover. It needs rest so give it rest. If you go to the gym, make it a point to wipe your equipment down and wash your hands.”

For more Coronacast updates, follow the podcast here.
For more on Fit Body U, follow them on Facebook.

Shane Saathoff
Shane Saathoff
An active writer for two decades, Shane's focuses on local news and events throughout the area, Shane is an active historian, science nerd, and tech geek. Shane is a native of Bourbonnais, IL, and alumni of Olivet Nazarene University.


  1. People should be working out at home to lower the risk for us all. Your health is not worth a single workout in a gym. Sorry but true.


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