The experts say this is the best mask to wear when you are working out at a gym

Fitness nuts, rejoice: Gyms in New York are set to reopen this month.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced in August that gyms and fitness centers in New York state can open their doors again on Aug. 24 (Sept.2 in New York City), months after they were forced to close due to the coronavirus.

While at-home and outdoor exercise routines have been all the rage through quarantine, the reopening of gyms will be a big boost for gymgoers and those looking for a reprieve from recorded workout videos, but it comes with a few restrictions.

Per Cuomo’s announcement, gyms will be limited to 33% capacity at all times and masks must be worn at all times while inside. Cuomo also said “localities” will have a role in the reopening of gyms and mandated that localities must open gyms by Sept. 2. Localities will also determine whether gyms can conduct indoor classes, Cuomo said.

Local health departments must also inspect the fitness centers before they open, he said.

Several gyms and fitness boutiques have been gearing up for a reopening since gyms were shuttered on March 15. Retro Fitness CEO Andrew Alfano told Ladders in April that Retro’s 130-plus franchises will have vigorous safety measures and a reopening “playbook” which all franchisees must follow.

CITYROW founder and CEO Helaine Knapp also told us to expect big changes to boutique fitness.

“I think the days of cramming extra bodies in the room are paused,” Knapp said in April. “Tight spin classes and yoga classes are going to have to do a little bit more reengineering of their classes. I’m confident they’re going to do it, but there’s also a conversation to think about: can every studio survive at a lower capacity?”

If you’re gearing up to head back to the gym, chances are you’re thinking about safety before gains which all starts with what you wear — on your face. As facemasks and coverings will be a must to enter and exercise onsite, Ladders spoke with Dannah Eve Bollig, a certified personal trainer, former division one athlete, and the creator of The DE Method for tips on the best masks and practices as you restart your workout routine.

Ladders: A recent study found that neck gaiters aren’t as safe as originally thought. That seems to be the face-covering of choice for people running and working out outside. What type of masks would you recommend for use for safety and performance at the gym?

Dannah Eve Bollig: “There are quite a few different face masks on the market these days from fashion masks, to medical grade masks, to masks meant for working out. I typically tell my clients that they will have to find what works best for them personally. Just like different brands of clothing, some materials might be more comfortable than others so it really depends on personal preference. My top two recommendations for sweat-wicking, comfortable workout masks are the Under Armour Sportsmask and Adidas Face Covers.”

Ladders: Is there a better way to exercise with a mask on? Experts have said that some people have felt the effects of wearing a mask which can limit performance.

Dannah Eve Bollig: “There’s definitely no question that working out with a mask will impact your training sessions, but to what extent? One might believe that a mask or face covering over both the nose and mouth during exercise will reduce the flow of oxygen into a person’s lungs. This is actually not the case. An article interviewing doctors and scientists in Today states, ‘when wearing a cloth mask, a surgical mask, or even an N95 mask, there is no significant change in oxygen saturation (or HR) in any scenario.’ This means comfortably wearing a mask just has to do with getting used to it.

“As a former Division 1 athlete (who lived at sea level during the offseason and then trained/played at a University with an altitude of 5,312′), training in an altitude mask was a necessity to best prepare myself for the day I reported for pre-season. An altitude mask is meant to simulate altitude training by limiting air intake thus making the bodywork harder to breathe. These masks use a valve system to reduce the amount of airflow to the lungs, forcing one to take deeper breaths. This is also known as “restricted-air training”. In my personal experience, this was never an easy transition and it definitely took time to get acclimated. The standard face masks or face coverings recommended by the CDC aren’t meant to reduce your oxygen intake but rather filter the air you breathe.

“The best way to safely adjust your body and become comfortable training in a mask or face covering that’s meant to protect you from the virus is to start slowly. If you’ve mostly been sitting at home during the quarantine with limited physical activity and without any physical exercise, getting back to where you were previously in the gym will take some time, patience and work. Adding a mask that will make it feel hot, humid and “hard to breathe” will take some added time and patience. Ease yourself into wearing a mask or face covering by limiting the amount of time doing so to start. Begin by wearing your mask around the house for 10-15 minutes at a time just doing normal daily tasks, then slowly increase the time wearing your mask each day, as you adjust. From there, start walking or jogging around your neighborhood while wearing your mask and slowly work your way up to training. It might take some time and can definitely be aggravating and inconvenient, but you can still breathe. It’s mind over matter.”

Ladders: How should people navigate gyms and workout classes moving forward? Are there certain areas or machines that should be avoided? Are there any personal care equipment gymgoers should bring with them?

Dannah Eve Bollig: “Although I do believe it will take some time for individuals to be 100% comfortable returning to the gym, people that are ready to make the move, should be mindful and ask the important questions when returning to their local gyms, fitness centers, and favorite workout classes. It’s important that to know if your favorite gym or workout classes are following all CDC guidelines. I’d personally want to know if they’ve implemented mandatory mask-wearing. It’s imperative to know that these businesses go above and beyond to keep their guests/members safe by constant and thorough cleaning of all equipment, locker rooms, lobbies, etc.

“A few tips and tricks that I have found very helpful is to bring multiple masks with you so that if and when you get sweaty (a wet/sweaty mask can limit its effectiveness and make it more uncomfortable to breathe) you can safely replace your mask with a clean or dry one. Also, never touch your mask once you have it in place especially if you’ve been touching and using gym equipment as the more you do, the more you increase your chances of exposing yourself to the virus. Lastly, be sure to have a sanitizer on hand with the recommended alcohol content of at least 60% stated by the CDC and practice social distancing and good hygiene by washing your hands as much as possible.”

Ladders: For people exercising outdoors, should a mask be worn?

Dannah Eve Bollig: “In my personal opinion, anytime you’re close to others whether inside or outside, a mask should be worn. That’s my rule of thumb and what I tell all my clients. It’s always better to be safe.”