As lockdown eases to allow outside gatherings of six, and fitness classes begin opening up in outdoor areas, thoughts turn to the health and safety of in-person workouts. And with the potential of gyms and other fitness venues reopening mid-July, just how members of the fitness community can protect themselves and others has of course been a hot topic.
Fitness instructors and venue managers will be enforcing regulations to ensure the health of staff and customers is protected. Here at MoveGB, we are circulating resources to our fitness providers to ensure they take the utmost precautions when running their in-person classes.
However, we've also compiled some suggestions for measures that our members can undertake themselves to ensure safety even while working up a sweat.
Recommended precautions for fitness providers:
In a recent survey (June 2020) that we ran to 2,712 MoveGB members and the general public, 43% are keen to get back to their favourite fitness venues and are severely missing the social aspect of working out. However, 55% are more cautious with concerns of a second wave.
Social distancing enforced in classes, space and ventilation, and high hygiene standards were some of the top things our members wish to see at reopened venues.
ukactive released an in-depth study on the impacts of COVID-19 on the fitness industry and the path for recovery post-lockdown. Based on consultation within the fitness sector, they identified four key measures that will have a significant impact on the capacity of the sector and the return to sustainability, as long as they are implemented as part of the reopening strategy,
- Capacity reduction: 50% reduction in capacity of all facility types, to allow suitable social distancing measures to be implemented. This has been calculated using the maximum current capacity of each facility type at any one time and includes measures such as removing every other piece of cardio equipment from usage.
- Swimming restriction: No swimming lessons, primarily due to the high concurrent demand on changing facilities.
- Activity restriction: No team sports, including football, hockey, cricket, rugby, to be played within leisure facilities.
- User restriction: No access to users aged 70 and over.
You must ensure you have procedures in place to not only reduce the risk of transmission, but also to give confidence to customers and staff.
Talk to your customers and find out what you can be doing better or what else you can supply if they’re nervous returning to your facility.
You can read ukactive’s full report here.
Other measures you can be implemented during your classes or within your reopened venue could include:
- Social distancing: Ensure there is enough space between participants during group fitness or within your gym. This can be achieved by reducing the capacity of your class or facilities, or moving your fitness class into a larger studio room on-site.
- Hand sanitiser supplies: Create a station or a few different points within the venue where hand sanitiser is readily available for all.
- Using space resourcefully: Do you have a sports hall that’s being unused at your venue? Perhaps this space could be used for warm-up/cool-down stretching or bodyweight exercises to allow extra capacity for social distancing.
- Consider the ventilation: Hold your workouts in spacious, well-ventilated studios. Or outside. Don't rely on air conditioning units.
- Have disinfectant spray and paper towels readily available: Encourage all participants to wipe down equipment before and after they use them. And also ensure staff constantly keep on top of the hygiene and cleaning of the equipment and the general venue. Use disinfectants including properties that kill coronavirus. (A list of those is available on the EPA website).
- Encourage all visitors to wash their hands before and after their workout.
- Have a way for visitors to clean their shoes upon entering your facility.
From our survey, customers also mentioned they’d like to see the following measures at reopened venues:
- 35% cited temperature checks on staff and customers entering the premises.
- 18% cited the use of perspex (or similar) barriers between equipment and machines.
We also surveyed fitness providers on Move to find out what measures they are considering for reopening:
- Social distancing: 87%
- High hygiene standards: 82%
- Reduction of class capacity: 74%
- Thoroughly cleaned equipment after each class: 69%
- Hand sanitiser station: 68%
- Get participants to bring their own equipment i.e. yoga mats: 62%
- Frequent risk assessments: 38%
- Increased ventilation: 31%
- Masks available: 17%
What else you can do when visiting a reopened fitness venue:
While we can be sure that fitness providers will be conscious of hygiene within their classes or venues, there are still some extra precautions you can do to protect yourself and others.
Check-out the suggestions below:
- Bring two towels - one for your face (try not to touch your face with your hands) and one to lie on when using equipment.
- Wash your workout gear as soon as you get home, no matter how much you sweated during your session.
- Shower at home after your workout, not at the venue.
- Bring your own hand sanitiser in case there is low supply at the venue.
- Bring your own face mask if you wish. Some venues may make the wearing of face masks compulsory.
- Bring your own equipment to class i.e. yoga mat.
- Consider bringing a small pack of disinfectant wipes for equipment or facilities you do touch.
- And of course… Wash Your Hands!
Precautionary measures will be vital during this delicate time as venues reopen and everyone has a part to play.
Make sure you feel safe within the venue and do speak to your instructor or venue staff if you have any concerns at all.
You can also contact us if you wish to talk more about precautions and recommendations on the health and safety of fitness venues post-lockdown.