America is beginning to reopen. No matter where you live, now is the time to ensure you have a plan in place for reopening your club or facility once your city or state’s quarantine is lifted.
Each city has its own rules and guidelines for re-opening businesses. You should only reopen your facility once safe, and ensure you are complying with all local, state, and federal guidelines in place.
Under the president’s task force guidelines to reopening America, gyms are listed in phase one of the three-phase plan. Under the guidelines, “gyms can open if they adhere to strict physical distancing and sanitation protocols.” Before a state can reopen, the guidelines recommend that the state has a downward trajectory of reported symptoms, cases, hospitals be able to treat all patients without crisis care and a “robust testing program in place for at-risk healthcare workers, including emerging antibody testing.”
To prepare for reopening your club or facility, IHRSA urges a four-pronged approach to reopening. This approach “starts with screening staff and members for COVID-19. The second step involves implementing social distancing and containment measures. Club operators also must educate all staff and members about how to stay safe because everyone plays a role in minimizing the spread of COVID-19, according to IHRSA. And club operators need to implement enhanced, evidence-based cleaning and disinfecting practices to reduce exposure risk.”
In today’s article, we will be following IHRSA’s four-pronged approach, and offering suggestions on best practices for keeping staff and members safe, social distancing and containment measures, educating staff and members, and cleaning and disinfecting.
For up to date information on COVID-19 and recommended best practices in the United States, please refer to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.
We are constantly learning about COVID-19, and therefore still working to better understand best practices for screening. Until more resources are available, it is best to encourage sick employees to stay home. According to the Center for Disease Control, “employees who have symptoms of acute respiratory illness should stay home and not come to work until they are free of fever (100.4° F or greater), signs of a fever, and any other symptoms for at least 24 hours.”
Apple recently released a website and app in partnership with the CDC, which could be used as an additional screening tool.
The CDC recommends “wearing cloth face coverings in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain (e.g., grocery stores and pharmacies) especially in areas of significant community-based transmission.” It is up to you to decide if you want to enforce face coverings for your staff, members, or both.
It is recommended that members of the at-risk population take greater precautions and continue partaking in your virtual training offerings. If members aren’t quite ready to reenter the gym due to lower immunities or age and are looking for home workout videos, we have a playlist of professional trainer home workouts. If you would like to share the videos in E-Blasts or your website, download the videos here.
Social distancing should be readily enforced on the floor – including in cardio, free weights, and locker rooms. Depending on your facility’s layout, you may want to try your hand at facility planning. We offer the use of Icovia for free through TRUE Fitness. On Icovia, you will be able to plan your own layout with TRUE Fitness equipment. If you have additional pieces in your gym, you can enter the SKU # to pull in those pieces to Icovia.
To observe social distancing, it is important to have a no-contact check-in system. If you use a scanner for members to check-in, be sure you are frequently cleaning it. Also, adding plexiglass to the check-in desk can help protect your staff at check-in.
At a minimum, cardio equipment should be 6 feet apart. Some experts recommend temporarily closing treadmills on the cardio floor, as there is a larger surface area, making cleaning and disinfecting more difficult.
The number of guests in the strength and free weights sections should be greatly reduced to uphold social distancing guidelines.
Access to the locker room facilities should be minimal with the exception of restrooms. Lockers may need to be temporarily closed to enforce social distancing guidelines.
Educating staff and members is key to keeping your club or facility safe. The CDC released a How to Protect Yourself & Others that can be used as basic guidelines.
Staff should be thoroughly trained on cleaning best practices, protocol on interacting with guests, and ways to keep themselves safe (masks, staying a minimum of 6 feet apart, etc.) Be sure to include all guidelines and practices in your training, including keeping hand sanitizer stations readily stocked and available. Gym disinfectant wipes should also be offered at all times to members looking to clean a machine before and after use.
Members should be educated on how your club is keeping them safe through signage and e-blasts. Your members’ peace of mind will ensure your reopening runs smoothly.
According to a study conducted by John Hopkins University, COVID-19 can live “up to 72 hours on plastics, 48 hours on stainless steel, 24 hours on cardboard, and 4 hours on copper. It is also detectable in the air for three hours.” To keep your facility clean, it is pertinent that you enact rigorous cleaning standards in your club or facility.
Creating a cleaning schedule will clearly outline your expectations to staff members during a time of heightened awareness for many. Having a defined schedule will also provide peace of mind to members who will have concern about contamination. Be clear and communicate to guests all of the additional measures you are taking to keep them safe.
To keep your equipment at its highest quality, it is important to follow your manufacturer’s cleaning guidelines. To find the best practices for cleaning and disinfecting TRUE equipment, be sure to review our fitness equipment cleaning recommendations.
Whenever you reopen, the safety of your staff and members should be at the forefront. By creating a detailed plan of action, you can ensure you are taking the necessary steps to create a clean and safe environment for guests to focus on their fitness goals.