Keeping your clients safe is as important
as welcoming them back to your facility.
Follow key safety principles,
and build a culture of awareness to
keep your clients and staff fit and healthy.
Before Opening: Listen to your local health authorities and government, and communicate closely with your clients to determine what’s the best timing and programming to open up your facility.
Follow these guidelines to ready your facility and your clients for reopening and beyond.
If you want to explore more details, start your research at the AFS Crisis Resource Center.
Increase Cleaning & Sanitation
Optimize and increase your sanitation procedures. High-touch surfaces should be sanitized several times per day. Equipment should be sanitized after each session by clients and staff.
Increased air circulation, particularly using fresh air, reduces the risk of infection. Consider what can be done at your facility to improve airflow and filtration, including opening doors and windows and increasing the filtration standard of your ventilation systems. (more details below)
Empower Clients to Practice Safety and Sanitize Surfaces
Educate clients on your safety policies, and post signage to remind them. Provide hand sanitizer at the door, and sanitizing wipes for the equipment.
Modify Your Programming to Reduce Contact
Reduce class sizes. Avoid programming that encourages close interaction. Implement limits on occupancy. Minimum physical distance is 6 feet, although more distance is recommended for people being active. (Follow local mandates)
Take Advantage of Online Training
Continue using online training and hybrid models to reduce traffic to the facility, and provide safe training for high-risk populations and anyone that is under quarantine.
Consider Using Masks
The use of masks will depend on government guidelines and the risk level present in your community. Masks used properly are effective at reducing the spread of infection. Any mask being used should allow good breathability compatible with physical exercise. (Follow local mandates)
Communicate with Your Clients
Show them that you have taken steps to implement safety guidelines, and keep a positive attitude about solving these challenges. Any restrictions in access, programming and distancing are stressful for them too, and they need your leadership and positivity to welcome these changes.
Guidelines for Clients
Educate clients and enforce these guidelines for everyone’s safety:
- Sanitize hands when arriving at the facility
- Sanitize all equipment twice: before and after use
- 6-feet minimum distance between people including instructors (larger distance is preferred for people being active. Follow your local mandates)
Use Online Training
- Anyone feeling any symptoms should stay home
- High-risk populations should continue online training until risk levels are low (this consideration also applies to anyone sharing their household with high-risk populations)
- Anyone that has been in contact with a confirmed or suspected case of infection should continue online training until safe
Safety Builds Trust
Thomas Plummer explains the importance of creating a safe environment for your clients.
Extract from the AFS Podcast: How Do I Reopen My Gym? with Jim Adams.
- Avoid circuits or any form of equipment rotation. Avoid situations that would require clients to share equipment, or moving to occupy the same space.
- Consider shorter sessions to limit exposure and the number of people in the facility at the same time.
- Open-air training: if your situation allows it, consider moving some classes outdoors. Open-air ventilation and sunlight significantly reduce the risk of infection.
- Consider special hours and sessions for older populations. This allows you to offer a higher level of safety by sanitizing the facility before the session and applying more physical distancing for those sessions.
- Be proactive in communicating your safety measures and policies. Send an email, post on social media, make a video. Your clients want to see that steps are being taken, and it will be easier for them to adopt the policies if they follow your lead.
Technical Recommendations and More Information
On Ventilation Systems: increase the outdoor air change rate (more fresh air from outside), and upgrade HVAC filtration to MERV-13 or the highest level achievable. If you are not able to sufficiently increase fresh air and upgrade filtration, consider adding a self-standing HEPA filtration unit. Consult your ventilation provider to determine the capabilities of your system and your options.
Recommendations courtesy of The American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air-Conditioning Engineers (PDF).
Cleaning and Sanitation: Provide hand sanitizer of 70% alcohol or higher. Clean surfaces to remove dirt and particles before sanitizing. Sanitize surfaces with products labeled effective against viruses, as approved by the EPA (most popular commercial cleaning products will fall under this category, check the label). Make sure to read the instructions and apply the products correctly.
CDC - Hand Hygiene Recommendations
CDC - Cleaning and Disinfecting Your Facility
Zogics Clean Guide - Cleaning Protocols and Resources for Fitness Centers
Approved Cleaners and Disinfectants, Courtesy of Matrix
Preventive Maintenance Procedures for Cardio, Strength and Group Training Equipment
CDC - COVID-19 Guidance for Small Business
CREP - Coalition for the Registration of Exercise Professionals, Reopening Guide
CA Fitness Alliance - Proposed Industry Guidance for Fitness Industry
Facility Reopening Guide, Courtesy of Matrix