How to Reassure Clients It's Safe to Return to the Gym
The impacts of the global pandemic continue to be felt across the globe, and one industry that's faced significant challenges amidst COVID-19 is the fitness and leisure sector.
While many establishments have been able to reopen their doors as restrictions have relaxed, the landscape continues to change with varying restrictions in place across different states and even cities in the United States. This may mean that many clients could still be hesitant about returning to their usual exercise regimes in public places.
With this in mind, let's take a look at some of the steps gyms can take to help reassure clients that it's safe for them to return.
1. Heavy-Duty Cleaning
With the spread of the virus coming through direct contact with others or indirect contact with infected surfaces, implementing strict cleaning regimes is a must in fitness facilities. This is particularly important in areas with high-touch surfaces such as shared gym equipment, changing rooms and other communal areas.
Regardless of what restrictions are currently in place in your area, demonstrating to clients that your facility is taking all the correct measures when it comes to hygiene best practice will all go toward reassuring them that it's safe to exercise in shared spaces.
This shouldn't just be a one-day cleaning ritual, but a holistic and frequent process, including wiping down equipment with disinfectant after each use. Deep cleaning every inch of your facility, as well as having visual prompts such as signage and hand sanitizer dispensers throughout, will also show clients that you're taking both their and your staff's health and well-being seriously.
It's also advisable to promote the measures you're taking on your website and social media, making sure that people who may be contemplating returning to the gym know that you're doing your bit.
2. Monitor Capacity
Part of the restrictions introduced since March has been the social distancing rule, ensuring people maintain 6 feet apart to reduce the risk of transmission. To do this effectively, fitness centers should look to introduce effective capacity monitoring systems that allow them to track the number of people on site at any one time and avoid overcrowding.
While this may feel counterintuitive when you need to drive people back to your gym or rec center, the important message to convey to clients is that it's for their safety and benefit. To offset the reduction in capacity during peak times, you can encourage people to exercise during off-peak periods when it's less busy.
For many gyms, this has prompted the introduction of touch-free, electronic check-in and check-out systems. For one, this enables gym managers to get a real-time view of their current capacity, but it can also allow them to effectively manage traffic flow.
Some systems even facilitate putting visitors through a health check, including asking questions like "are you experiencing any flu like symptoms?" and scanning their temperature. If they pass the test, they're issued a wristband that shows they're safe to exercise. This all contributes to making sure people attending the gym are healthy and should reduce the chances of infection.
3. Rethink Layouts & Equipment Storage
Before COVID-19, it was common practice for gym equipment to be positioned close together and for exercise classes to be filled to the brim in order to maximize capacity and profit. However, this isn't going to work in light of continued social distancing requirements in place in the United States—not to mention people's reservations about close contact with others.
This means rethinking workout space layouts, ensuring there's ample distance between gym equipment. In addition, this gym equipment should also provide sufficient space for clients to safely navigate around workout areas without coming into contact with each other. This shouldn't just allow for 6 feet, but extra space for dismounting and maneuvering between different areas. You could also introduce a one-way traffic system or designated lanes to help manage footfall more efficiently.
When it comes to freestyle workout equipment and exercise gear, there should be greater emphasis on offering more space to access and use equipment. From a storage point of view, investing in free-standing open shelving units that can be accessed from all sides will help users maintain their distance and make equipment easier to get out and clean after use.
Similar principles should be applied with shared areas like changing rooms, making sure lockers and changing benches are spread out so clients can observe the 6-feet rule. You may also want to restrict use of certain amenities like water fountains, showers, saunas and steam rooms.
While there's still a great deal of uncertainty surrounding COVID-19 and when life will return to a true normal, by keeping a close eye on the latest restrictions in your area and taking the appropriate measures to practice exceptional hygiene and social distancing, you can reassure clients you're doing all you can to put their health and well-being first when they return.
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