covid19 · fitness · fitness classes · gadgets

To pod or not to pod?

Owners of gyms and yoga studios and general athletic facilities, which have been closed for a few months now, are starting to make plans for how to reopen safely. The biggest problem is how to restrict the transmission of virus droplets that occurs when a lot of people are breathing in the same enclosed space. If you missed our super-popular and informative post about this by engineers Sarah and Cara, you can read it here.

COVID-19 and the gym: building engineers weigh in

The problem of reconfiguring building systems and infrastructure to mitigate virus risk is ongoing, and experts are hard at work formulating plans.

And then some other people came up with this idea:

A person doing yoga (downward facing dog) inside a clear geodesic pod. In a group of others doing same. Outside. In Toronto.
A person doing yoga (downward facing dog) inside a clear geodesic pod. In a group of others doing same in their own pods. Outside. In Toronto.

So many questions come to mind here. The first one for me is “WHERE’S THE DOOR?”

Don’t worry– it’s right here.

Person doing savasana, or corpse pose (or maybe just sunbathing) inside pod, with door open.
Person doing savasana, or corpse pose (or maybe just sunbathing) inside pod, with door open.

They probably left the door open to avoid heat stroke– it’s got to be pretty toasty inside. Yes, there are fans, but I’m guessing they’re not going to help a lot. the instructor apparently gave up on their pod and taught from the open air.

Pod-yoga instructor, teaching podded students after escaping from her pod.
Pod-yoga instructor, teaching podded students after escaping from her pod.

The activity-within-pod idea isn’t actually new. For about 10 years now, novelty marketers have been advertising clear plastic watertight balls for playing on water.

Adults and children flailing about inside clear airtight plastic balls in a pool.
Adults and children flailing about inside clear airtight plastic balls in a pool.

For about the same amount of time, consumer and governmental safety agencies have warned against using these things, as they increase risk of suffocation or drowning. Of course, you could cut your risk of death in half by using it only on land:

A ballerina in a white tutu, posing inside a clear plastic ball. She's got max 30 minutes of air, FYI.
A ballerina in a white tutu, posing inside a clear plastic ball. She’s got 30 minutes of air, max.

I have to say, even if my risks of 1) drowning and 2) suffocating were eliminated, I don’t think I’d enjoy exercising inside a pod. Frankly, I’d feel too much like this:

Praying Mantis practicing rock climbing inside glass dome, looking uncomfortable.
Praying Mantis practicing rock climbing inside glass dome, looking uncomfortable.

It occurs to me that maybe it’s the dome-shape that’s got me bugging. A gym in LA has come up with plastic-sheet cubicles for its early-adopter clients. They can do classes and weight work inside, surrounded by clear plastic.

It’s not clear to me, though, whether the cubicles solve the problems that Sarah and Cara raise about gyms, air circulation and droplet transmission. There’s so much we don’t know. And, we need to get data through testing, which takes time.

For now, I think I’ll keep doing my group physical activity either inside through zoom or outside in small groups at a safe distance. And the only thing I think we should use those clear plastic balls for is making an impression on the runway, as Shangela did on RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars 3.

Shangela stomping the runway inside a clear plastic ball.
Shangela, stomping the runway inside a clear plastic ball.

So, dear readers– would pods of either the domed or cubicle variety get you back to the gym or keen to join group classes? We’d love to hear from you.

5 thoughts on “To pod or not to pod?

  1. Honestly, the only thing I can think about when I see them is how awfully hot and suffocating it must be in there. I don’t think they’re my jam!

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  2. Honestly, I considered doing pod yoga until I realized how insanely expensive it is. No thanks.

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  3. Hard no on the pod – heatstroke and suffocation come instantly to mind followed by how would you clean them adequately? I left my gym when they started back to outdoors classes in masks. Realized as someone already struggling with heat that working out in a group in masks wasn’t going to work well for me and I cannot imagine feeling safe in a gym until there’s a vaccine. I miss my gym community and am not working out enough on my own though. No good answers.

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  4. not sure if i should laugh or cry at this…so sad. what has our world come to? i’m embarrassed. the aliens are shaking their heads right now. to leslie (above), there is a ‘good’ answer. take the difficult path, as with working out, and do it on your own at home and find your motivation. the problem is, most folks in america are lazy and want to take the easy, safe, happy path. that’s not life. the difficult stuff makes us stronger – that includes working out in our basement or garage when no one is looking, just because we love ourselves and respect our bodies. sometimes life sucks. now is one of those times for many.

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