After nearly two years, I am happy to once again be able to see the smiles on the faces of my fellow gym goers and read their facial expressions.

The COVID-19 mask mandate was lifted last Monday and I am beyond ecstatic to lift without the discomfort of inhibiting my breathing. The easing of restrictions means that we are finally starting to see some normalcy in Guyana and the world over.

I like that the mask mandate has been lifted because it feels like we are finally turning the corner of this pandemic. For nearly two years, longer in some places, people have gone about their everyday activities carefully, have worn masks and changed the way they lived.

It feels liberating but kind of strange to walk into a building and not have to wear a mask, but I really like it and think it is about time.

Gyms are definitely one of the places where the lifting of the mask mandate is welcomed.

While the government has made mask wearing optional and recommends that masks be worn in crowded places, I am extremely happy to have the choice of not wearing one in the gym.  I can breathe better, I can lift better, I just all around feel great. This is a breath of fresh air, literally and figuratively.

When someone is exercising and their heart rate is high, they breathe heavily. Having to wear a mask makes this exertion very difficult.

Exercise is such an important part of our lives, whether you go to a gym, walk outside or engage in another activity to get your body moving. We have to stay active or try our best to lead a healthy life, and having to wear a mask has made many people give up on a healthy lifestyle.

I can definitely envision a spike in gym memberships since many people found it difficult to work out while wearing a mask.

Sweating while wearing a mask can lead to acne in the area that is covered, difficulty breathing and overheating. I have seen many people overheat and sweat through masks to the point where the masks fall down and impede the wearer’s vision, which can be very dangerous when someone is lifting or running or is around others who are engaging in physical activity.

Hopefully, people who feel ill, believe they might be ill, or who have knowledge that they may have been exposed to COVID-19, should do the right thing and isolate themselves until they have recovered or are able to rule out having contracted the coronavirus by being tested.

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