If you have been operating a gym or a health club in Australia, you had likely been forced to close down due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Indeed, most entrepreneurs have had to make tough decisions regarding their employees and other business stakeholders. The fitness industry has had to adapt to the situation by offering their physical and mental solutions through online platforms.
As the Australian government continues to ease Covid-19 restrictions fitness-related facilities are reopening. In this post, we provide a road map of how gym owners and instructors can provide a safe environment for their clients and employees.
Managing The People in Your Facility
Develop a Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) for Your Gym
An SOP is a document that acts as a step-by-step guide on how to handle a task. Your gym SOP should have a detailed explanation of what you expect from your employees and clients. Make your SOP so clear and precise that anyone who walks into your facility can understand it.
Come up with a plan on the processes you want to institute and a framework on how you want to communicate this information to all the concerned parties. You will want to include such details as:-
- Your physical distancing processes
- Your cleanliness and sanitation procedures
- A framework on how you intend to keep your premises clean as well as delegating responsibilities
- A framework on how o manage people in your facility
Rules on Physical/Social distancing in a Gym
For your facility to be considered safe, you will need to adhere to the public health directives that dictate a 1.5 metres distance between persons. This means that one person occupies a floor space of four square metres. This rule applies whether you are in an indoor or outdoor space.
If you are running an indoor facility, you might want to put a cap on the maximum number of people allowed at any one time. This includes the staff. To calculate the number of people who should access your enclosed space, multiply the room’s length by its width and divide the total by four.
Social Distancing Practices You Should Adopt
In as much as you may have educated your employees and clients on the social distancing rules, it’s important that you do the following:-
- Create wall and floor markings that identify 1.5 metres distance. If possible, have your staff members wear badges that remind customers of the physical distance requirements
- Put up wall posters throughout the facility that remind your customers and staff members not to shake hands, hug or kiss
- Barricade or completely remove areas where the members of staff and customers tend to congregate. This may include the lounges, tables and chairs
- If possible, use a speaker system to remind your clients of the physical distancing requirements from time to time
- Encourage your staff to use other means of communication such as radios or mobile phones as opposed to face-to-face interactions
Adjusting the Gym Floor’s Layout
You will need to adjust your gym floor’s layout to enable the customers and staff members to comply with the physical distancing requirements. You can achieve this by:-
- Creating specific pathways to enter or exit your facility using floor and wall markings
- Increasing the space between your fitness equipment. If you are constrained for space, you might want to disable access to neighbouring pieces of equipment to achieve the physical distancing requirements
- If your facility is spacious, consider spreading out your equipment so that you make use of less frequently used spaces
- Encouraging your staff members and clients to move uniformly throughout the facility to reduce random movement. For example, have everyone move in the same direction
- Where it’s possible and if the weather permits, make use of outdoor space
Even as you revise your gym floor’s layout, make sure that the new layout allows your employees and clients to get in, move about and exit in normal circumstances as well as during emergencies without compromising on their health and safety.
Safety Practices When Conducting Group Fitness Classes
With most people having stayed at home for at least three months, there is likely to be a surge in the people that book for fitness sessions. Physical distancing rules are likely to be in place for a few more months to come. Gym owners and instructors need to have an agile mindset as well as a willingness to adjust to the new normal. When it comes to group classes, some of the practices you should observe apart from adhering to the 1.5 metres apart rule are:-
- If possible, offer some or all your group fitness classes online. This will enable you to have a wider coverage
- Think through your booking system. If it’s possible, ask your clients to book for their group sessions online. This reduces the level of traffic to and from your fitness facility. Coordinate appointment and session times to reduce wait times thus avoiding overcrowding
- Split up the group sessions and allow for a 10-20 minutes overlap between leaving clients and those that are arriving. Request your customers not to arrive more than at least five minutes before their session
- Request the clients who have already completed their class or session to leave immediately
- Consider providing group workout sessions that ensure that clients do not have to move from their positions
- If your facility is near a training field or even a basketball court, you might want to consider making good use of such a space
What About Gym-based Personal Training?
When it comes to gym-based personal training sessions, tailor your services to include exercises that will require zero physical contact. This should include how you set your space up as well as how they use the equipment. Rather than touching, use verbal cues or technology such as speakers when sharing practice plans and instructions. Should any activities involve direct contact, sensitize on the need for your clients and staff to practise proper hand hygiene. Place alcohol-based rubs or sanitizers throughout the facility and use it every time after contact.
If you have multiple personal training sessions, ensure that the clients and members of staff maintain adequate spacing. You might also want to consider providing each client with disinfected or sanitized exercise equipment.
Remember to limit the number of trainers and clients in your facility at any one time to ensure that its capacity is not exceeded.
Staff meetings and gatherings
For the time being, cancel or postpone any non-essential staff meetings, gatherings or training. In case of emergencies use electronic communication options such as video or teleconferencing. In the case of training, make use of LMS platforms.
If there must be a face-to-face meeting, make sure it is held in a place that meets the 1.5 metres apart physical distancing requirements. This means holding such in a conference hall or even outdoors. If you hold the meeting in an indoor space, ensure that it is well ventilated. Make sure that the meeting does not take longer than it needs to. Also, limit the number of attendees in the meeting even if it means holding multiple meetings or training sessions.
How to handle visitors, contractors and deliveries
Discourage non-essential visits to your facility and minimize the staff members attending to deliveries and supervising any contractor works. Give clear instructions on physical distancing requirements to contractors or delivery drivers accessing your premises. Ensure that you set up hand-washing stations at all entry points. Request that delivery drivers remain in their vehicles and use electronic forms of communication such as mobile phones when they want to communicate with staff members.
Cleaning, Sanitizing and Disinfecting
As more information unfolds on how the Covid-19 virus spreads, there’s no doubt that more safety and hygiene guidelines will come up. For now, gym owners and instructors need to do everything in their power to make their facilities safe by observing the following hygiene practices:-
- Perform regular, thorough cleanings
Rather than your normal cleaning routine, carry out a deep cleaning once or twice a day. You might want to consider increasing the allotted cleaning hours or even bring in new staff members to carry out the new cleaning procedures.
Once you open your facility to the public, remember to give instructions to your clients on what cleaning products they should use to wipe down their equipment after use. Alternatively, provide them with these products and give them instructions on how to perform the cleaning exercise.
- Disinfecting surfaces and equipment
As Australia’s Department of Health points out, though the Covid-19 virus can survive on surfaces for many hours, it can be inactivated through regular disinfection and cleaning. Antiviral disinfectants such as those that are chlorine-based are ideal. Alternatively, use disinfectants or diluted bleaches that are listed on the Australian Register of Therapeutic Goods and particularly those that have virucidal properties.
Come up with processes and procedures that allow you to clean and disinfect commonly used surfaces and equipment between uses. Ask your clients or your employees to sanitize the equipment before use or even do both. Request that your customers and staff members leave the equipment to air dry before the next use. Keep in mind that certain disinfectants and sanitizing products might need to be rinsed off with water to prevent skin irritation.
Disinfect high-touch surfaces regularly and thoroughly. This may include such areas as doorknobs and the front desk. You might want to remove communal items such as complimentary phone chargers, candy jars and magazines.
- Encourage regular hand washing
By now, regular hand washing has become part of everybody’s day-to-day life in a bid to minimize the risk of coming into contact with or spreading the virus. Set up your facility in a way that members of staff and clients have easy access to hand washing or sanitising stations.
Other safety practices you should implement for your facility are:
- Minimizing shared amenities
Come up with a list of all high-touch surfaces and shared amenities. This may include coat hooks, dumbbells, gym mats, linens and towels, showers, treadmills, water fountains, and so on. Most gyms are discouraging their members from using showering facilities and water fountains. For amenities such as toilets that cannot be completely closed, you will need to come up with new cleaning procedures. For instance, you might want to have them cleaned after each use.
If you will still be providing linens and towels to your gym members, come up with proper cleaning procedures. For instance, have marked bins where clients place used linens and towels. Have them laundered and disinfected before the next use.
Encourage your customers to bring along their gear. They can bring items such as ankle, shin and wrist guards, helmets, goggles, racquets, weight belts, and yoga mats.
- Come up with appropriate waste management procedures
On top of your normal waste management procedures, you might want to add protocols such as:-
- Lining your bins with a liner bag that can be easily tied at the top
- Putting rubbish bags that contain materials that have been used to clean and disinfect surfaces in a second plastic bag before placing them in the larger rubbish bins or removing them from your premises
- Requesting your clients and staff members to get rid of cleaning materials such as paper towels or disposable tissues immediately as opposed to leaving them on surfaces
- Emptying the bins regularly to prevent the trash from overflowing onto surfaces
- Ask those who will be emptying bins to wear gloves and dispose them into the bin immediately
- Go paperless
If possible, request gym members, staff, contractors and delivery persons to use electronic paperwork. Come up with alternatives for physical signatures. For example, in case of a delivery or dispatch, use a confirmation email or even photos of the loaded or unloaded goods as proof.
Encourage the use of contactless forms of payment and ensure hand hygiene is observed after handling cash or any other physical documents such as membership cards.
- Constantly monitor and review your processes and procedures
You will need to review all the processes and procedures you have put in place to ensure that they are not only effective but also compliant.
- Communicate, communicate, communicate
One of the primary challenges businesses have faced during this pandemic is uncertainty. This means that most business owners have nothing concrete to pass along to their customers, employees and other stakeholders. Constant communication between you, the gym members and staff is key to making everyone feel safe and confident. Let everyone know that you are aware of the prevailing situation and that you understand their concerns. Make sure you address any reservations the gym or staff members might have.
With emails, social media, newsletters, and other forms of communication, you can easily send cleaning reminders, stay at home requests if one is sick or displaying Covid-19 symptoms and any information on routine interruptions.
How Can Induct for Work Help Gym Owners and Instructors?
Small economies and businesses have really suffered since the onset of the pandemic. However, it does not have to be all doom and gloom. Salvage your gym business by using the Induct for Work online training platform.
Rather than spending time and money coming up with fitness training programs, Induct for Work has ready templates that you can use. What’s more? You can customize the templates to reflect your brand’s values. Rather than users viewing it as an outside tool, the platform acts as an extension of your facility. Induct for Work provides you with training material meant for specific of people. For instance, you will find training materials meant for your gym instructors, personal trainers, cleaning staff, contractors, visitors and even casuals.
Your gym managers, personal instructors and fitness trainers have clear metrics and visibility into performance reports. As a manager, you can also view reports on how well your staff understands the training you provide. Such reports can be drilled down from an individual’s performance to specific locations.
Through Induct for Work, you can rapidly train and onboard cleaning staff, front-end staff and fitness instructors any time and from anywhere. You can maintain your personnel’s compliance on the platform as it allows you to collect any licenses, insurance certificates, permits and other documentation. You will get automatic reminders when any of these documents are due for renewal. You will also be able to perform any background or even police checks to ensure that your employees meet your ethical standards.
Communication is rather simple and easy on Induct for Work. This is because all notices, chats and messages are consolidated in a single dashboard that you can access from anywhere and at anytime. Through the interactive platform, fitness trainers and gym members can work out at their own pace through standardized training across the network.
The Bottom Line
None of us could have ever predicted that a time will come when businesses have no option but to migrate to online platforms to remain relevant. To be successful, most businesses have had to adapt rapidly to the changes happening around them. Take responsibility of your employees and gym members’ safety by training them through Induct for Work. Get an idea of how the platform works by signing up for our obligation-free 14-day trial.