Like all public spaces where people gather, fitness centers and gyms are some of the facilities that may fuel the spread of the coronavirus. With the government suspending all sports activities, many Kenyans have kept away from fitness centers which have largely remained closed during the pandemic.
During the daily briefing by the government on Wednesday, Rashid Aman, Kenya’s health chief administrative secretary, said there is a consideration to reopen sports activities in the country, particularly non-contact sports, four months after they were banned by the government over the pandemic.
“We have opened up certain sectors of the economy, and sports contributes to our economy and to the well-being of our people. We must do what we can to try and get our sports system working again,” Aman said.
However, many Kenyans have been working around the pandemic restrictions in order to maintain their workout regimes. In Nairobi’s Tena Estate, residents have taken advantage of public spaces and open fields to carry out their workouts.
Daniel Otieno, a gym instructor, says that since his gym was closed, he talked to some of his trainees and they agreed to move their morning workout to the field where they can observe social distancing while still keeping fit.
“Due to social distancing, we have had to change our venue and we have also reduced the period of time we work out in order to reduce chances of spreading the virus. The fact that the gyms are closed means that trainers like myself have lost our income but with such arrangements, I am able to make something small,” Otieno said.
He said that before and after the workout, he has to sanitize all the equipment, including mats.
During the government briefing, Aman said a directive would be issued in the coming days on contact sports that attract fans.
“On the sports (events) that draw public gatherings and contact sports, considerations on whether it is possible to allow them to reopen without endangering the fans will be considered in line with the procedure and protocols that have been put up in place by the Ministry of Sports,” Aman said.
However, Issa Malik, a resident of Tena Estate, says that exercising for him is a way of life and he cannot wait for the government to reopen fitness centers for him to work out.
“For me, keeping fit is a ritual. That is why I have to work out despite the pandemic. Before the pandemic, I used to train at a gym and use this field for jogging but since the gym was closed, I do all my workouts in the field,” Malik said.
“What I make sure is that when I get home after my exercise I sanitize (the place), take a shower and wash the clothes. I would like to encourage those people who cannot exercise because of the virus restrictions to be innovative and find a way to keep fit. Coronavirus is a pandemic and the best way to stay healthy and keep diseases away is to exercise regularly,” Malik said.
Otieno said he has been encouraging his trainees, who had stopped working out after the pandemic struck, to take advantage of the many workout videos online uploaded by fitness enthusiasts from all over the world.
He says home workouts are the safest for those passionate about working out but afraid of human interaction.