Fitness guru Jillian Michaels got COVID-19—now she’s warning people about going to the gym

jillian michaels, shown with an outstretched arm during a conference, got sick with the coronavirus
Photo via Gage Skidmore/Flickr (CC BY SA 2.0)

Jillian Michaels was sick with COVID-19 after she contracted the virus from a public gym, The Biggest Loser star has revealed. The experience led her to warn other gym-goers to consider at-home workouts, particularly if they are in high-risk groups.

Michaels said she’d contracted, and has since beaten, the coronavirus in an interview with Fox Business on Sept. 8. She noted that her stellar health likely contributed to her mild case, but warned that not all experiences mirror her own. “I’m fortunate to have gone into it being healthy, and I was able to get on the other side of it pretty quick,” she said. “But not everyone is that lucky, as we know. And all I can tell you is if you are afraid of getting COVID, a public gym is probably a place where you will get it.”

Michaels said she “let my guard down” for an hour with a close personal friend, her hair and makeup artist. That contact led to Jillian Michaels getting sick with the highly-contagious virus. “If you are afraid of COVID, you should not go to the gym,” she said. 

Michaels said, via Entertainment Tonight, that she had slight symptoms for the first three days of her infection, but by the fourth day, “symptoms were practically gone, and by the fifth day I felt fine.” By October, she was back in the spotlight, advising people on how to get rid of the Quarantine 15, touting an at-home workout, and re-starting feuds with other celebrities.

But she’s also warned for people eager to return to public gyms and fitness classes. “If you’re not in a mask and that person is not in a mask, and they have COVID and have no idea—because, by the way, I had no idea that I had it for six days, my friend had no idea that she had it when she gave it to me—anticipate that you will likely get it in an environment like that,” she said. “And if you are afraid of it, by all means, it’s not a move that I would recommend making.”

Some gyms require face masks while members work out, but many do not. Those that do not require constant face coverings still recommend them whenever members are not “taking part in activities that require heavy exertion” or swimming. If a face mask is not in place, maintaining a distance of at least six feet is recommended. 

Gyms tend to be better ventilated than many enclosed spaces, but they also come hand-in-hand with shared bodily fluids. Sweat and saliva run rampant while people are working out, so engaging in fitness near other patrons comes with inherent risk. To top it off, air conditioning might contribute to the spread of the virus in enclosed areas. No evidence currently supports this theory, but NPR noted that other infectious diseases, including “measles, tuberculosis, chickenpox, influenza, smallpox and SARS” have been known to spread through ventilation systems. 

In November, the CDC updated its guidelines for how to keep gym and fitness center employees safe during the pandemic.

Sources: Fox Business, Huffington Post, MSN, Los Angeles DPH, NPR

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