As more businesses are given the green light to reopen, health and fitness clubs are beginning to plan how they will safely welcome their members back. Although it’s exciting to work out again, this is a gradual return under specific circumstances. Any reopening of fitness centers must include health and safety protocols that are applicable to every business: enhanced cleaning, social distancing, and temporarily limited services.
Opening your doors again depends on a comprehensive plan that should be communicated to both employees and visitors so everyone knows what to expect. Your plan should comply with up-to-date information from federal, state, and local authorities. However, there are some general health and safety tips to consider as you reopen your gym.
Incorporating A New Kind of Health
Since gyms are well known for their environment of shared equipment, close quarters, and big group classes, they were among the first businesses to be ordered to close as an attempt to reduce the spread of the coronavirus. When you reopen your gym, you will need to implement new cleaning protocols to make sure the potential risk of transmitting illness is more reduced than ever. While every business should follow the guidelines established by local health authorities and federal agencies such as the CDC, gyms can also follow recommendations from health and fitness organizations. For example, the International Health, Racquet, & Sportsclub Association (IHRSA) has established guidelines and resources for reopening gyms.
comMany fitness clubs are increasing their supplies and staffing to make sure workout equipment is disinfected before and after it’s used. They are also opening their main facilities, but keeping showers, pools, saunas, and spas closed for the time being. If studios are open for classes, a longer period of time between each class is implemented so studios may be fully cleaned before the next class.
Social Distancing for Fitness
It’s difficult to enforce social distancing in gyms, but not impossible. Each fitness club is finding ways to ensure members are able to keep a safe distance. This often involves a combination of the following:
- Reducing the number of equipment available for members to use. For example, every other treadmill may be blocked off, or completely removed, to prevent people from exercising right next to each other. You can remind visitors of this policy by putting up social distancing gym signs.
- Opening under a limited capacity, reducing the number of visitors allowed at one time.
- No longer offering large fitness classes; instead, instructors teach smaller groups or through a one-on-one basis.
- Prohibiting any contact sports or sports that require shared equipment, such as basketball and racquetball.
Adapting Your Services
Gym owners will have to consider how their services will adapt to social distancing and sanitization. Some clubs are asking members to make reservations in 60- or 90-minute time slots and limiting the number of reservations available. Then, the gym is closed between each time to allow staff to adequately clean.
Other gyms may continue operating through a hybrid of in-person and online services. They are continuing to offer online workouts, especially for members who are elderly or have underlying health conditions. For fitness centers that rely on large classes, such as yoga studios, some businesses are finding a solution in the outdoors; rather than conducting class inside, they take it to a park, where members can socially distance.
How will services change at your gym? As you reopen, you don’t have to get rid of certain classes or equipment completely—it may just take an innovative solution to figure out how you will provide your members with what they need, safely.
Chances are, your members are as excited to get back to working out as you are to open your doors for them. Communicate about your new rules by asking everyone to abide by them. Putting up labels and signs throughout your fitness center as a reminder can go a long way in making sure everyone exercises safely.
Signs are essential in enforcing new policies. Are you asking members to wear face coverings? Do they need to bring their own water bottles because your water fountains are closed? Is wiping down a machine after each use more important than ever before? Every gym member knows: if they’d like to continue coming, they need to follow the rules.
Working Out and Staying Safe
Every fitness club is different, and exactly what reopening looks like for your gym will depend on many factors—where you are located, what type of services you offer, the size of your membership, and more. As time goes on, more best practices from health clubs around the world will continue to emerge. More resources will become available on cleaning and sanitation so fitness clubs can continue to operate successfully. The above tips can help initially guide you as you develop a reopening plan, and remember, stay up to date with local regulations so everyone can get back to working out safely.
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