The pandemic has taken a heavy toll on the fitness industry. Gyms and fitness facilities face unique challenges in ensuring the safety of their patrons and employees. Headlines report that:
Now that gyms in some parts of the country are able to reopen, their owners and managers must ask strategic questions: How to keep those visiting gyms safe? What measures can be taken to sufficiently clean equipment and facilities? Which types of workouts are safe and which are not? How to best protect employees?
Best practices for gyms and fitness centers
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has issued Factsheets for both employers and employees of fitness facilities, outlining precautionary measures to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. These recommendations include:
- Identify an on-site coordinator to oversee COVID-19 assessment and control;
- Implement flexible sick leave and supportive policies for employees;
- Perform in-person or virtual health screenings of employees;
- Encourage gym patrons to clean equipment before and after use;
- Limit group fitness class capacity or conduct open-air workouts;
- Designate hours and sessions for older populations.
Recommendations for reopening have also been issued by independent organizations such as the American Industrial Hygiene Association (AIHA) at BackToWorkSafely.org and the Association of Fitness Studios. AIHA has published a number of industry-specific guides with practical advice for safely reopening, including one for gyms that discusses best practices for physical distancing, ventilation, employee communication and wellness, enhanced cleaning procedures, and more.