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Following the Gym Rules Won’t Always Protect You

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people cycling in a gym with masks on

Photo: MilanMarkovic78 (Shutterstock)

We trust the people in charge. Notice that many of us didn’t ask “when is it safe to go back to the gym?” but rather “when is my gym opening?” An outbreak traced to a Canadian spin studio drives this point home. The gym followed the rules, but the rules weren’t good enough.

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The outbreak, reported to involve at least 69 people, started in a spin studio. Bikes were distanced from each other, making sure people were six feet apart. Masks were required before and after classes, but not during exercise itself. The result was that up to 21 maskless people were breathing heavy in the same small indoor space. Of course people got sick.

Six feet is not a force field

Masks and distancing work together, because neither is perfect on their own. Remember that the coronavirus can almost certainly travel in droplets that are small enough to float through the air. The six-foot rule reduces your exposure but it doesn’t guarantee that you’re safe.

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Masks are still important

Many areas’ regulations don’t require masks “during exertion” or “while actively exercising.” This exception is based on convenience, not science. The coronavirus doesn’t decide not to infect people if you happen to be exercising when you expel it from your mouth and nose. In fact, when you’re exercising, you’re likely to be breathing harder and are probably putting the people around you at higher risk than if you’re not.

We’ve known this for a while! A fitness dance workshop in Korea in March resulted in 112 cases among participants and their contacts. “Vigorous exercise in confined spaces should be minimized during outbreaks,” write the authors of a report on the outbreak that was published online in May.

Yes, it sucks to exercise in a mask. It really, really does. (Often literally, as you’re inhaling mouthfuls of cloth between reps.) As a result, even in places where masks are mandated during exercise, people often pull their mask down. I’ve heard of plenty of gyms where the management doesn’t enforce mask rules because they just don’t care to. (Perhaps some are worried about being able to keep members in a tenuous economy; in a sense, I understand.)

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What to do

Personally, you would not catch me dead in an indoor fitness studio right now, with people doing cardio all around me, whether I am wearing a mask or not. I run outside, I’m lucky enough to have weights at home, and if I go to an indoor gym I go rarely, at off-peak times, keep my distance from others, stay away from cardio equipment, and I wear a mask over my mouth and nose.

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Be wary of any exercise in a place that’s not well-ventilated, because those aerosol droplets could be hanging in the air. Six feet between bikes isn’t enough; neither is a plexiglass barrier if it doesn’t actually seal off one person’s air space from another.

Heavy breathing ranks alongside singing and shouting as a way of generating those smaller droplets. Studios with loud music may be especially bad, says the medical officer of health from the city with the spin studio outbreak, because people tend to shout to be heard.

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Even in less-risky gym environments, like areas dedicated to weights rather than aerobics, keep your mask on. If you can’t tolerate an exercise with a mask over your mouth and nose, then in the time of COVID-19 you probably shouldn’t be doing it near people at all. Yes, I hate this fact too, but it’s not because I like being a buzzkill; it’s just the way the virus works.

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Conquer Your Pup’s Dander and Fur With $700 Off a Cobalt or Charcoal Bobsweep PetHair Plus Robot Vacuum

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Best Home DealsBest Home DealsThe best home, kitchen, smart home, and automotive deals from around the web, updated daily.

Bobsweep PetHair Plus Robot Vacuum & Mop (Cobalt) | $200 | Best Buy

Bobsweep PetHair Plus Robot Vacuum & Mop (Charcoal) | $200 | Best Buy

Allergies can be bad enough as the seasons change. Don’t let pet hair and dander add to that by vacuuming it up early and often. That chore is easier said than done— unless you have a robot vacuum to do the work for you. This lovely bright cobalt Bobsweep PetHair Plus robot vacuum and mop, only $200 today at Best Buy seems like an ideal option. That’s a whopping $700 off, by the way.

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You can get the same deal for the charcoal version of the robot vac, too. This model is not only specially made for picking up pet hair, it self docks and charges when it’s finished with the work.

It also comes with a mop attachment, so it can take care of those kitchen floors for you as well. Grab it while it’s still available for this fantastic price!

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Apple will replace AirPods Pro for free with faulty noise cancellation, static or crackling

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Today, exactly one year after Apple first launched the AirPods Pro — and thus the same day the very first AirPods Pro owners will see their one-year warranties expire — Apple has launched a repair program that offers free repairs or replacements for another whole year if your AirPods Pro experience issues with noise cancellation or static.

Specifically, Apple will fix:

Crackling or static sounds that increase in loud environments, with exercise or while talking on the phone

Active Noise Cancellation not working as expected, such as a loss of bass sound, or an increase in background sounds, such as street or airplane noise

Apple says only a “small percentage of AirPods Pro” are affected by the issues, but it apparently wasn’t just an early batch — Apple says affected units were manufactured “before October 2020,” meaning every AirPods Pro ever made might be eligible. That’s quite a recall if so. Apple says it will repair faulty AirPods Pro for two years after you first buy them.

We’ve heard complaints about degraded noise cancellation before, and at least one Verge editor has replaced their AirPods Pro under warranty. It’s nice to hear that Apple isn’t just cutting buyers off as soon as that warranty expires.

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This 55″ 4K TCL Smart TV Hangs on Your Wall for $200

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Best Tech DealsBest Tech DealsThe best tech deals from around the web, updated daily.

TCL 55″ S434 4K Smart TV | $200 | Best Buy

Best Buy has an insane deal going for a brand new 55″ 4K TCL smart TV. It’s the S434, which is pretty baseline for TCL’s lineup, but at just $200, there’s little to complain about. TCL’s panels are plenty sharp and accurate, and with this set, you’ll get HDR10 compliance for enhanced color and brightness in supported games and video content. This model has Android TV onboard for all your app needs, and with an included voice remote, all your favorite content is just a shout away with the help of Google Assistant.

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