Two of the largest health club operators in the US have announced that members and guests will be required to wear face masks when entering and exiting their facilities and when walking around the gym.
Mask wearing will not be required while working out.
Both Life Time and Planet Fitness have brought in the practice during the past few days (27 July and 1 August respectively).
Chris Rondeau, CEO at Planet Fitness, said that members and employees are required to wear masks throughout the facilities at all times, except while actively working out – and in accordance with local restrictions.
"As we continue to face the COVID-19 pandemic, amid an ongoing global health crisis, wellness has never been as essential to our collective community as it is today," Rondeau added.
"Gyms are part of the solution and a key element of the healthcare delivery system, providing much-needed access for people to exercise and stay healthy.
"Given our leadership position within the industry, we believe it's our responsibility to further protect our members, employees, and communities so that we can all safely focus on our health, which is more important now than ever before."
Life Time's chief operating officer, Jeff Zwiefel, said: "Our decision to require masks across all clubs is a response to the ongoing concerns nationwide.
"In addition to our health and safety protocols already in place, it is a simple but effective measure for providing our valued members with the safest environment possible and to remain open, which helps ensure the livelihood and employment of our team members."
The full-service operator has also created a dedicated website which charts all the safety measures in place at its facilities.
Life Time more than 150 high-end athletic club destinations across the U.S. and Canada – more than 125 of which have reopened following the easing of lockdowns.
Planet Fitness has more than 1,450 locations open across 46 US states, the District of Columbia, Canada and Australia.
In late June, a Planet Fitness member was found to have COVID-19 at a club in West Virginia, with several hundred other members being potentially exposed. The operator may feel that the move to masks is wise in light of this.
Athletic apparel companies are rushing to produce masks which are suitable for use during intensive exercise, following the publication of research which showed that it can be unsafe to wear paper masks when doing high intensity exercise.