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Is It Safe To Go To Gyms Now?

We visit the newly reopened Surge Fitness gym to see for ourselves how safe it is to continue on our fitness goals now

Surge Fitness, like many gyms around the country, closed its doors in March when the pandemic hit and the lockdown kicked in place. Months after the steady easing out from the quarantine restrictions, a number of fitness facilities started to reopen—albeit with new protocols and safety requirements. Metro.Style dropped by Surge Fitness, the first and biggest Filipino 24/7 gym franchise in the metro, to get a feel of how safe and secure it is to go back to working out outside the comforts of our homes.

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Safety protocols

Safety protocols remain of utmost importance when it comes to health and fitness facilities like gyms. Since gyms are high-touch and high-respiration areas, there have to be strict protocols in place to make sure that everyone is safe while in the premises.

At Surge Fitness, safety starts even before you step inside the facility. Before the gym opens and after it closes, the whole facility is sanitized with UV light, turned on for 15 minutes in each area. This is in addition to the thorough disinfection of all equipment.

All members who will work out are required to call ahead and schedule an appointment, so that Surge can make sure there are only 15 people at a time inside the gym. Members are then accommodated per batch, so that there is ample time to disinfect all equipment before and after each batch. During our visit, we noticed that there really is only a handful of people in the gym, which means they’re really strictly implementing the limit in place.

When you arrive in the facility, every member is asked to accomplish a health declaration form for tracking purposes. Unlike other facilities, we were surprised to be greeted by a disinfection tent before entering the workout area. The tent is equipped with a Sanibreeze machine and a foot bath for thorough disinfection, to make sure you’re not bringing outside particulates into the workout area.

For the peace of mind of both its staff and members, all staff and coaches undergo swab testing every two weeks. Unlike rapid testing, swab testing remains to be the gold standard in detecting Covid-19. This was a welcome safeguard for Fitness Coach Marco Tolentino, who says that the regular testing may be a bit uncomfortable, but he feels it is a testament to how Surge Fitness values his and his family’s safety.

Probably the best safety protocol that we were particularly impressed with is their specialized air filtration system. The problem with many indoor establishments, especially during the pandemic, is that the air circulating inside can go stale and saturated with particulates. At Surge Fitness, on top of their industrial grade air purifier, they have created a unique ventilation system where natural air from the outside is circulated inside the gym. This means that the air doesn’t remain stagnant inside the facility.

And this isn’t just science stuff to lure people into the facility. During our visit, we noticed how good the air circulation was inside the gym even after hours of workout, compared to other establishments even pre-pandemic. It shows how much Surge Fitness values each member and goes the extra mile to prioritize comfort and safety.

Adjustments to accommodate the new normal

According to Queenie Abeja, who manages the reception and membership at Surge Fitness, they tried their best to make sure that all members feel that this is the same gym they have been at home with for years, but they had to make some adjustments to make sure that the health and safety of the staff and the members are protected.

For one, the gym equipment has been reorganized to make sure there is enough distance between members during workout. They’ve also installed markers to remind members to stay within their area and to promote social distancing.

Cardio workouts are the riskiest out of all workouts, so Surge Fitness installed dividers—which we have taken note are of very good quality, and not just flimsy plastic strips placed to meet minimum standards—in between machines in the cardio area. We also noticed that cardio machines are only opened one machine apart, so members are encouraged to use a machine farther from the next one.

Lockers and shower rooms are open for members’ use, however, the sauna and group area remain closed. Surge Fitness also features an entertainment area (a first we’ve seen in any gym!), equipped with a billiards table and game consoles. However, the entertainment area is also temporarily unavailable to discourage lingering of members inside the gym.

Responsibility and cooperation from members

Even though Surge Fitness has done its best to make sure the facility is safe and secure, they’re also emphasizing the need for members to cooperate and do their part. All members are asked to sanitize each equipment before and after use as courtesy to the next member who will use it. Surge has provided alcohol and microfiber cloths for members to use, so you don’t have an excuse to not do your part.

While they still have gym accessories for member use like mats, they also encourage members to bring their own if they can.

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Personal training and coaching

Health and fitness should not take a backseat in the midst of a pandemic; in fact, it becomes even more important to make sure your body is in tip top shape to battle any virus or flu. This is why Surge Fitness highlights its highly experienced and trained personal coaches for members who need that extra help and boost in their workouts.

During our visit, we were fortunate enough to meet two of Surge Fitness’ coaches, Coach Marco Tolentino and Brylle Orejudos. According to them, they have seen a major decrease in members requesting personal training, but they’re still fortunate to have clients just two months after the gym has reopened.

According to Coach Brylle, personal training may be a bit different now, but they strive to do their best with safety protocols and social distancing in place. For example, the coaches make sure to sanitize the equipment for you like the ball you use for ball slam or the TRX ropes before you use it.

They also try to maintain a manageable distance from you during coaching, and will demonstrate the workout for you to copy instead of going up close to correct your form. Instead of contact stretching, which is usual with trainings before, Coach Marco says they will use foam rollers instead if the client requests.

Check out the gallery below for a visual tour of Surge Fitness and how their personalized fitness coaching works.

Promos and offers

To encourage people to go back to the gym, Surge Fitness currently has an ongoing promo where you only need to pay a joining fee of P2,500 pesos and you can work out for the full month of December free of charge. They are also offering adjusted rates of P2,800 per month for a 6-month membership, and P2,500 per month for a whole year of membership. All new members will get 2 personal training sessions for free, as well.

All members also receive a welcome kit from Surge Fitness, which comes with a duffel bag, tumbler, towel, RFID, and your very own heart rate monitor. This heart rate monitor is very interesting because it’s able to monitor your heart rate for efficient training. Upon entering the gym, your device will trigger when worn, and you will be able to view your heart rate flashed in the screens throughout the gym. This lets you know how efficiently you’re working out, and if you need to exert more effort to keep your heart rate up. Did you know that wearing a heart monitor is one of the secrets of Jenifer Lopez to keep her workouts intense, fat burning, and safe?

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Pre-pandemic, Surge Fitness was operating 24/7 to cater to their clients’ various lifestyles. However, with restrictions still in place, their current gym hours are 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. from Mondays to Thursdays, and 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. from Fridays to Sundays.

For more information and membership inquiries, you can visit Surge Fitness on Facebook and Instagram.

Photographs by Leomark Responde. Special thanks to Jam Sanchez