The recent Coronavirus pandemic compelled many businesses to close in a bid to curb community spread. These efforts have borne fruit as some states let companies resume operations. President Donald Trump allowed companies to re-open, urging them to follow strict guidelines to prevent a resurgence of the virus.
Gyms are among the businesses set to resume operations and gym owners are ready to take extra caution to ensure their members remain healthy after using their facilities. According to Dr. David Thomas, a professor at Johns Hopkins University, gyms, pose a lower risk of spreading the virus in comparison with other social facilities like churches.
However, members living in communities that have experienced high cases of the virus should be more cautious. A study performed on other coronaviruses showed that they could live on glass, metal, and plastic for nine days.
As such, objects like doorknobs, cardio equipment, dumbbells, free weights, to mention a few are likely to harbor the virus. Gyms are therefore required to enforce safety guidelines concerning:
- Cleaning and sanitation
Fitness centers should emphasize on social distancing and enhanced cleaning after re-opening the facilities. As such, health clubs need to determine if they should limit the number of people visiting their facilities for exercise.
For example, when clubs re-opened in China, sessions were restricted to 90 minutes after which staff needed to clean them for an hour between the appointments.
Another essential factor to consider is the need to enforce social distancing guidelines when using cardio equipment, free weights, pool areas, and locker rooms. The areas are more likely to increase the spread of the disease hence the need to enforce stricter rules. Other considerations include:
- Whether to resume group exercises
- Policies to implement to prevent members from congregating
- Whether to continue offering virtual training to cater to vulnerable groups
Health clubs should also implement safeguards to help monitor employees. The policy should outline:
- The number of staff needed during the initial phase of re-opening
- Staff members who will resume work and their roles
- How to ensure the employees are protected from exposure to the virus
- If there’s need for additional training before re-opening the clubs
Cleaning and Sanitation
Health clubs need to step up their cleaning process to keep the facilities safe and clean for their staff and members. Thus, gym owners need to determine how often the machines and surfaces need cleaning.
Also, they should use a suitable cleaning solution that can get rid of any virus on the surface. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, a diluted solution of household bleach, disinfectants, and alcohol solutions that contain 70% of alcohol are effective.
The Environmental Protection Agency also released a list of disinfectants that can be used against the virus. Other safety guidelines include:
- Cleaning protocols staff should follow
- How the facilities will enforce safe cleaning practices
- Need for safety gear for staff when cleaning the equipment
Health clubs should determine if they want to re-open some sections or the entire facility. In China, for example, areas like showers, locker rooms and pools remained closed during the first phase. The fitness centers also need to set a timeline for re-opening other spaces.
Additionally, they should determine if they need to upgrade some services to align with the changes. For example, if the members are required to make a reservation to visit the club, determine if the software supports such capabilities.
Health clubs that have introduced new services during the lockdown also need to decide if they need to continue offering them to the public. Aspects such as pricing, need to train staff, available equipment are other considerations you should factor in.