Extra Precautions to Make Your Members Feel Safe at Your Gym this Winter
As coronavirus case rates have been rising in the U.S. again, your members may be understandably concerned about heading to your gym. They may also be reading the news about how gyms are among the areas with the highest risk for spreading COVID-19. Your gym will likely do better if you address these concerns head-on and take steps to help your members feel extra safe this winter. Here are some precautions to consider:
Research has found that limiting the capacity of indoor businesses such as gyms can significantly cut infection rates without impacting the total number of visits too drastically. This means it can be an effective strategy for keeping your business open and keeping everyone safe without seeing too much of a reduction in your membership visits.
Even if it’s not mandated in your area, consider trying limited capacity approaches as our society finds a way to limit cases while managing the impact on businesses and the economy. You may have already had your gym open at a limited capacity sometime this year, in which case you may have a procedure you can go back to.
Some methods include:
- Only allow a certain number of people into the gym at one time
- Spread people out into different parts of the gym so you limit crowding in any one area
- Schedule classes, training sessions, and other group activities so they happen at different times
- Encourage people with more flexibility, such as retired people, to visit the gym during slow times, reducing capacity at times when working people come
Encourage Social Distancing
A key way to keep everyone safe is to spread them out at least six feet apart. The more space you can put between people, the better. Here are some ways to achieve this goal:
- Spread out machines or restrict use to every other machine
- Spread people out within-group fitness classes, which may require reduced class capacity
- Use tape or other markers to designate spaces on the floor for working out
- Teach instructors, trainers, and other staff to maintain a safe distance from members
- Add signs encouraging social distancing in hallways, bathrooms, and other areas
Encourage Lower Intensity Exercise
Some research has found a lack of transmission from an infected instructor when the instructor was teaching a lower intensity exercise class. In this type of class, you could expect reduced heavy breathing, and perhaps more people would keep masks on. Another possible factor is that classes with prone positions can involve breathing toward the ceiling or floor for part of the class instead of breathing forward the entire time. Instead of canceling classes, consider turning more of them into lower intensity exercises that involve more natural breathing. For example, consider yoga, Pilates, and gentle aerobics.
A lot of fear is based on misinformation or outdated information. For example, over time experts learned airborne transmission is more of a concern than surface transmission. You can share information like this with your members so they know what safety measures to focus on more (such as social distancing and wearing masks) and what requires less worry (such as touching machines). Also, share the precautions your gym is continuing to take, such as disinfecting and following guidelines, and tell members if you’re aware they have been exposed to an infected person.
We hope these precautions can help your gym successfully stay open and help your members gain the benefits of exercise. Please feel free to share ways your gym is making members feel safer, as we’re all in this together.