Social distancing. It’s a word that seemingly appeared overnight but now rules our lives with an iron fist. But just what IS social distancing? The Center for Disease Control describes it as keeping a six-foot distance between yourself and other people outside of your home. For gym owners and members, it throws a wrench in achieving the best workout sessions because we rely on that contact for the best results. But before you throw in the towel, here are a few of our tips for providing the best gym experience for your clients and to keep you from going gray while maintaining social distancing.
Limit Class Sizes Based on Gym Size
Say goodbye to the days of gyms being packed to the brim, and say hello to smaller, private lesson-style training. To ensure proper social distancing, gyms in Knoxville, Tenn. are instructed to max out their class size to five members per 1,000 square feet. Of course, every city and state has its own requirements, so keep tabs on the restrictions issued for your area. Be sure to place distance marker stickers or decals throughout the gym to take the guesswork out of just how far apart six feet truly is (tip: it’s about two arm’s length). Factor these limitations into your class length as well. Decide if you’ll deep clean your space in blocks or clean as you go during each class. Calculating the time it takes can have a great impact on the length of your classes during business hours.
Limiting your class sizes may also mean a hybrid training style for some of your students, too. Several days a week students who opt into hybrid training can have access to a mix of at-home and in-studio training at a small fee. And if your gym can support it, rent out your equipment to keep costs down for your students and bring in extra revenue for yourself.
Reimagine What It Means to Train
One of the best ways to guide gym-goers and students to obey social distancing guidelines is to remove equipment. If you have workout machines, try removing every other machine and spacing the remaining ones out to six feet apart. Another thing to consider is the introduction of new equipment into your gym to assist with new social distancing guidelines. Dummies, weights, and body bags are a few new tools for students to use to keep productivity up and risk down.
Close contact sports face a unique challenge in the world of COVID-19 since a large majority of its training and execution requires some form of physical contact. An option, after vetting that your students are healthy, is to assign them a partner to roll or train with. This partner will be their sole partner for the next five weeks. Not only can this be an excellent exercise in accountability, as the student cannot train without the other, but it also helps reduce the number of people who may potentially contract the virus from coming in contact with too many people.
Remember that your voice, too, is considered equipment. When you reduce the number of walk-arounds, high fives, and postural adjustments, be sure to increase the use of verbal cues. And if old habits die hard and you’re tempted to physically readjust someone’s form, you can invest in a pointing stick or a yardstick.
Reduce Unnecessary Guests
The CDC’s guidelines, along with state and local guidelines have banned the gathering of more than 10 people in a space for the foreseeable future. And we all know that 10 people isn’t a large group; making it difficult to decide who can be in the studio at any given time. The first step to figuring that out is to reduce the number of unnecessary guests who frequent your gym. That means no more parents milling about in the waiting area, using up the precious bandwidth. To minimize the likelihood of parents being tempted to stick around and watch, remove any seating or waiting areas in the studio, and communicate this change to families before they set foot in your newly reopened doors.
When it comes to your staff and friends, the guidelines may be a bit harder to abide by, but it’s important that you do. We don’t suggest letting any of your staff go, but we do advise being strategic in deciding which employees are essential and when, and then creating a schedule based on your findings. Keep in mind that 10 people isn’t a large number, so choose your team wisely.
Offer Remote Services
In the wake of the virus, many have taken to virtual training to be able to keep their students active and engaged. Who says you have to stop just because doors are reopening? Use virtual training to stagger the number of classes you have in the studio. CEO of Planet Fitness Chris Rondeau emphasized viewing virtual training or at-home workouts as a way to enhance your client’s ability to work out when they can’t get into the gym that day or other factors that keep them from being physically present.
Having more flexible options that accommodate the times is not only essential for the health of your business but the overall health of your clients as well. “Fitness does have an actual impact, not just on the physical look of a person, but on the actual wellbeing of a person,” Adam Zeitsiff, CEO of Gold’s Gym states in Business Insider’s article about the future of fitness post-quarantine. “Our industry realizes we have an opportunity to continue innovating and make people continue to see that so we can help them in the long term.”
Offering training remotely with YouTube, Zoom, and Facebook among others can also assist in staggering the times between classes. This allows you to incorporate more disciplines or classes and take care of operational duties like cleaning for the next class or giving your staff a well-deserved break.
Take Classes Outdoors as Much as Possible
We’ve all been a little starved for the great outdoors lately, and taking your training and workouts outdoors when possible is the perfect way to exercise and combat the mental stress of always being mindful of social distancing. And the benefits don’t stop there. Wellness website Everyday Health also cites benefits like more impactful workouts because your body is challenged by a constantly changing environment rather than a standard gym floor, as well as tricking your brain into thinking your workout is play, and soaking up a free daily dose of vitamin D.
Enforce Cleanliness and Safety for Others
Even though cleanliness seems like an odd entry on this list, it’s a key piece in achieving successful social distancing efforts. For cleaning and disinfecting, the CDC recommends EPA-registered household disinfectants. Should you opt for bleach, verify that it’s intended for disinfection, not expired, and be sure to dilute it based on manufacturer instruction. For a full guide of how to expertly clean your gym and fight the virus, see here.
Oftentimes gyms emphasize the idea of tribe, family, or community, and just like at home, each member is expected to do their part. At your school, employ the same idea. Be certain each person who sets foot in your gym is accountable for making sure everyone else has a great and safe experience. A couple of tips you can implement include requiring your students to wear masks during class to lower risk — that is if they’re comfortable and it doesn’t cause distraction. To cut down on the number of times your staff has to touch the mats or any other equipment, allow your students to be responsible for wiping them down before and after usage. And when going to the bathroom, don’t allow your students to go barefoot. And in turn, don’t allow any mat shoes that have been worn in the restroom or outside, to touch the mats.
When applied, these tips along with staying vigilant of state and local updates can help you provide the utmost safety and best customer experience for each one of your clients.