As a Spinning® facility owner or manager, you know intrinsically how vital exercise is for your members’ health and well-being. And yet, with the goings-on of COVID-19 and subsequent closure of gyms and studios, many people (perhaps even you) feel like they’re in the weeds in terms of understanding the current call to action on the health facility’s front. How to reopen gyms safely, so members can do what they love and continue to reap the benefits of exercise (especially, to boost the immune system), without putting them at harm’s reach? To tackle this complex subject, let’s break the details down into two manageable bites – when and how to reopen.
|This article is chock-full of details and links to tools and resources. Need some quick answers? |
Here’s the short list of important links:
When to Reopen Your Facility
The first question on everyone’s mind is when to reopen. IHRSA (International Health, Racquet & Sportsclub Association) recommends as soon as it is safe to do so… Yet, what does that mean to you specifically?
Here are practical steps you can take to ascertain when to reopen your facility:
- Use this frequently updated NY Times guideline to See Which States Are Reopening and Which Are Still Shut Down. You can use the search term “Outdoor and Recreation” to focus your results on gym openings. You can also search by state to gain insight into regional parameters that have been put in place. Also in this state-by-state guide, there are “Read More” sections under each state for more up-to-date specifics from a range of sources.
- If you’re still unsure about the timeline to reopen your facility, contact your local governing body to make sure you’re playing by the rules and doing your part to keep everyone safe. Your governor or mayor is the QB passing you the ball on this one…so definitely pay heed so that you can open as efficiently and effectively as possible – both for the welfare of your staff, members and community, as well as for the welfare of your wallet.
How to Reopen Your Facility
Foremost, stay on top of the Reopening Guidance for Cleaning and Disinfecting Public Spaces, Workplaces, Businesses, Schools, and Homes. After you understand and follow the basics (you very likely already are), then get equipped with industry-specific information. Consider starting with this four-pronged approach laid out by IHRSA:
1. Screen staff and members for COVID-19.
2. Implement social distancing and containment measures.
3. Educate all staff and members about how to stay safe.
4. Utilize enhanced, evidence-based cleaning and disinfecting practices to reduce risk of exposure.
While #1 is regulated by whatever screening measures exist in your city and state, we can help you out with some guidance for #2, 3 and 4. Based on the latest news and reports, podcasts, and fitness industry town halls, here are the tangible and practical details that’ll help you through the changes:
- Use personal distance signage throughout your facility. While it may be that everyone knows that personal distancing is the rule, signage will offer a consistent reminder to members that you are honoring and acknowledging the guidelines and will continue to do so with their best interests in mind…for as long as needed.
- Be mindful of general foot traffic through your facility. Create directional floor graphics with built-in social distancing, so no one has to guess where to walk.
- Consider creating new floor layouts to incorporate social distance spacing. Arrange your Spin® bikes with at least 6 feet of space between them. It may mean moving “extra bikes” to another designated area, so that members can still ride on the gym floor if they can’t get into a class.
- Ensure that there is ample space where people congregate. You may need to remove or rearrange furniture and lockers to provide enough empty space where members enter and prepare for classes.
- Ride outside the box. Maybe your cycling room isn’t the only option for classes. Is there a large, well ventilated area that will allow for more space? Perhaps even outdoors? Put those transport wheels to work!
- Schedule classes with spacing and cleaning in mind. It’s time to re-think those back-to-back classes. Allow enough time between each one to clean the room and to prevent groups of people exiting and entering at the same time.
STAFF AND MEMBER COMMUNICATION:
Everyone deserves to feel safe, your staff included. Follow these steps to ensure they are:
- Ask staff members – point-blank – what will help them to feel safe?
- Implement glove- and mask-abidance protocols when on the job.
- Consider logo masks and gloves if this encourages your staff to wear them consistently and proudly.
- Bring back your entire staff prior to reopening to test how safe they feel and help them to acclimate to the new environment.
- Create a resource guide with a checklist, so it’s easy to follow the procedures you’re implementing.
Member accountability to procedures and protocols will be huge in the coming months. Follow these steps to ensure your members are speaking your lingo:
- Train your members to consider themselves as extensions of your caring facility family. Email them in advance of your gym’s reopening to let them know what steps you’ve taken (even what cleaning products you use!), what expectations you have of members, and certainly that they can be in touch with any questions or concerns.
- Encourage collaboration between members and staff. For instance, members can be required to sanitize everything they use, but it’s up to the staff to monitor their efforts. Staff should be encouraged to start a friendly conversation with a gym member who may need a reminder to clean up after themselves. Also have a policy in place to support staff who contend with a challenging member.
DISINFECTANT PRODCUTS AND PRACTICES:
- While COVID-19 is not transmitted specifically through sweat, it can find its way onto frequently touched items like free weights and bikes by way of a sneeze, for instance. Therefore, the big topic that everyone is talking about is how to disinfect. Whether you’re after wipes or sprays, the plus of a disinfectant is that it kills pathogens. That is what you are after to minimize COVID-19 risk. There are over 3,000 disinfectant products approved by the EPA. Because some people may be quite sensitive to the fumes from cleaning products, also consider proper ventilation when using them.
- To prevent corrosion or damage to your equipment, spray the disinfectant into a cloth and then wipe down, rather than directly onto the bike itself. Corrosion (rust) on Spin® bikes can occur when the powder coating is stripped away, so it’s important to use the right products. See this list of Recommended Disinfectant Cleaners for Equipment
- Electrostatic cleaning products (charged electro-particles that adhere best to surfaces and can find their way into hard-to-reach nooks and crannies), have entered the market for good. EvaClean makes an electrostatic sprayer that uses tablets that dilute in water, making it easy to keep a supply of cleaning solution on hand without storing large jugs.
- You can also consider ozone sprays to treat turf in your facility, hospital-grade air filtration to mitigate the spread of germs/bacteria/viruses, or UV lighting which helps to sanitize the air. Be mindful that a household fan or air conditioner can spread COVID-19 by blowing and circulating droplets through a room.
Bonus Read: AV Now provides information on How to Clean Fitness Microphones, and which accessories should be personal, rather than shared. Don’t forget: SPIN® Members save 5% on all AV Now products, plus free shipping. [CODE: THANKS5]
In terms of preparing for all of this deep disinfecting that needs to take place on a very consistent basis, prepare to order a large quantity of supplies ahead of time. Then always aim to have twelve weeks of product on hand. If you can’t get supplies, turn to your local community for cleaning products. Often smaller companies can assist if the bigger one’s are sold out.
As far as the actual disinfecting process itself, schedule interval cleaning teams (before peak hours). Spray down all equipment then give it a ten-minute “dwell time.” This will ensure the disinfectant kills the pathogens. Keep in mind that disinfectant continues to clean for 4-5 hours, so you’ll want to schedule your next cleaning rotation before that time elapses.
Another upgrade to make to your facility are “sanitation stations” every ten to twenty feet. You can even brand them with your logo to draw attention to them. Along those lines, take every possible opportunity to both educate members about your facility’s protocols as well as ensure their trust in you – that you have their best interests at heart.
IHRSA has a Coronavirus Resource for Health Clubs portal, offering “a comprehensive list of all IHRSA resources created to help health clubs navigate the coronavirus outbreak.” The page is updated regularly. One page is particularly helpful: Gym Safety Considerations is organized by four categories, so you can take a step-by-step approach to reopening, including staffing and operations management:
2. Cleaning and Sanitation
We feel the strength of our Spinning® community now more than ever. We’re here for you. Together, we will get through this.