5 things to consider when reopening your fitness center

As local sanctions start to ease and offices and communities are reopening, you’re likely getting ready to welcome your fitness center members back into your facility. Many things have already changed and will continue to change as we adjust to this new normal, and your fitness center will need to similarly adjust.

From social distancing ideas to advice for your staff members, here are five things to consider when it comes to reopening your fitness center.

1. Stepping up your cleaning protocols

The first step to ensuring your members’ safety is cleanliness. The old standards have been upgraded with recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, check out this guide to effectively cleaning your fitness center to learn more.

In addition to using the right products and techniques, help your facility stay clean by adjusting your operation procedures as necessary. Laura Bush, EXOS senior project manager over implementation says, “We’ve built a buffer to ensure the staff has adequate time to clean and disinfect any used equipment by implementing reservations for workouts.”

Increase your regular cleaning schedule to at least three times a day or after every busy hour for a full facility cleaning. Clean and disinfect electronics frequently following manufacture guidelines. Use cleaning supplies recommended by the CDC above, and use disposable gloves while cleaning. Also, continue to encourage your members to clean and disinfect as well. A hands-on approach to their health and safety helps them feel in control.

2. Communicating changes to your members

Whether you’re trying to bring employees into an underutilized corporate fitness facility or working to attract more community members, your members might need some encouragement to come back in.

Start by sending communications to your members regarding any changes, focusing on these three main messages.

  • Set their minds at ease by explaining what preparations you’re making to keep members safe.
  • Prepare members for any changes or precautions they need to take, like class changes, availability of amenities like showers, or guidelines around wearing masks.
  • And most importantly, get them excited about coming back to the facility. Treat this like a grand opening and tell your members how excited you are to see them again.

“We’ve encouraged our site teams to be creative with their communication throughout our reopening states,” says Bush. “Videos that outline updated practices throughout the facility are a popular mechanism to illustrate precautions we’ve taken to ensure member and staff safety.”

Continue to share updates by creating print and digital signage to highlight what’s new in the facility and what measures are being taken to keep everyone safe. This includes posting lists of illness symptoms and face covering requirements on the entry doors, hand-washing directions in the bathrooms, and social distancing reminders throughout the facility.

3. Implementing layout changes

Social distancing measures are still the best way to keep your members safe, so optimize your layout to encourage members to stay safely away from others. Ben Sorcic, EXOS project manager over implementation, recommends the following measures:

  • Put “not in use” signs on the stationary equipment you don’t want members using so you can keep them spaced out and cut down on disinfecting time.
  • Place floor decals to remind people to maintain 6-foot spacing, and add directional arrows to optimize traffic flow and minimize members crossing paths.
  • Group equipment into mini-circuit clusters to encourage members to complete their workout in one spot without walking around the facility.
  • Indicate the maximum number of members for each area of the fitness floor to prevent overcrowding in one area.
  • To determine how many members can be in a facility at one time, EXOS is using this phased approach:
    - Phase 1: 8 feet, 9-inch clearance - 250 square feet per user
    - Phase 2: 6 feet, 10-inch clearance - 150 square feet per user
    -Phase 3: 4 feet, 1-inch clearance - 50 square feet per user

4. Encouraging social distancing for staff members

Social distancing isn’t just for your members. Make sure to protect your staff as well by implementing precautionary measures like recommending they wear face masks, asking them to complete health questionnaires each time they’re in the facility, checking temperatures, and reminding them to stay home if they feel ill.

And help them find new ways to interact with your members that are safer. “Right now we’re advising our staff to increase their use of verbal cues when coaching instead of using physical cues, strategize workout formats that eliminate the rotation of stations, and avoid contact with participants by finding new ways to celebrate effort instead of high-fives,” says Bush.

5. Adjustments to workouts

Having your staff plan workouts that don’t include rotating to different stations is just one example of the ways you may need to adjust programming. You might also consider equipment-free workouts or workouts that use the same piece of equipment in multiple ways to limit the amount of disinfection you need to do between sessions.

You should also consider coordinating in-facility and at-home workouts to provide a cohesive experience for members. That way members who have adjusted to working out at home will be able to ease their way back in and still feel supported on their goals.

Looking for ways to support your members at home? Try our free livestream workouts, wellness tips, and more at exosathome.com.

About the Author

Kelsey Webb

As an editorial assistant at EXOS, I'm eager to help others improve every aspect of their lives through healthy living. I enjoy bringing effective strategies and information to light by working with experts in all fields.

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