Over the last several weeks, a respiratory illness known as Coronavirus or COVID-19 has begun to spread in multiple countries, including the United States. Due to the contagious nature of this illness and the fact that it is primarily being transmitted in community settings, gym owners and other businesses that provide space for members of the community need to stay vigilant and take necessary precautions to stay ahead of the issue. 

In this article, we will provide the basics of COVID-19 so that you have a better understanding of the illness. From there, we will offer tips for keeping your gym or fitness studio clean and sanitary. After that, we will provide some tips for how to continue engaging your members while this remains at the top of everyone’s minds. 

Our hope is that through preventative measures and precautionary action, we can stay ahead of the illness and keep everyone healthy. Let’s get started. 

Basics of COVID-19

Before we get into prevention, let’s review the basics of COVID-19 so that you are better equipped to answer member questions and map out your course of action. The first thing you should know is that a novel coronavirus is a new coronavirus that has not been previously identified. The virus causing coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), is not the same as the coronaviruses that commonly circulate among humans and cause mild illness, like the common cold.

Current symptoms reported for patients with COVID-19 have included mild to severe respiratory illness with fever1, cough, and difficulty breathing. COVID-19 is believed to spread through inhaling respiratory droplets that are released when an infected person sneezes or coughs, or from touching an infected surface and then touching your eyes, nose or mouth. This is why sanitary practices and cleanliness will be essential to staying ahead of the illness. 

Finally and most importantly, the virus spreads through something called community spread. Community spread means people have been infected with the virus in an area, including some who are not sure how or where they became infected. Because of this, it is highly important that if you are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 that you seek medical attention and isolate yourself until you are cleared by your doctor. 

Spread awareness

While hopefully most of your members will already have some of these basics, spreading awareness both of the virus itself and prevention methods should be your first step to fighting this at your gym. Whether through methods such as emails, SMS, posters in the club, or all of the above, getting information to your members will put them in the right frame of mind for helping you stay ahead of this together. 

Make sure that they understand this is in their best interest and reassure them that you are taking the necessary precautions to keep them safe. Causing panic will likely do more harm than good, so maintaining an optimistic and encouraging tone in your messaging is highly recommended. 

That said, you should make sure your members comprehend the risks enough to stay home if they feel sick or ill. Next, we’ll offer tips for how to strike the right balance, but in this scenario it doesn’t hurt to be overly cautious. 

Share personal hygiene tips

With staying healthy being the ultimate goal and why your members are with you in the first place, sharing personal hygiene tips is an excellent way to show them that regardless of the situation, you are in their corner. Here are a couple of tips you can send out or post in your club to make sure everyone is on the same page about staying hygienic. 

  • Wash your hands frequently and thoroughly. If it helps, you can use this website to come up with a song you can sing while you wash: https://washyourlyrics.com/
  • Practice respiratory hygiene. When coughing or sneezing, make sure you are covering your mouth with your elbow or a tissue and then dispose of it in a closed bin. 
  • Maintain social distancing. Try to stay at least 3 feet away from others at all times to avoid contamination. If you need to get closer, try not to make skin-to-skin contact. 
  • Avoid touching eyes, nose, & mouth. Since your hands are most likely to come in contact with a contaminated surface, try to keep them away from your face to prevent spreading the virus to yourself. 

While these won’t guarantee stopping the virus from spreading, it will make a significant difference in the cleanliness of your gym and reduce the possibility of contaminating surfaces. Speaking of, let’s talk about cleaning. 

Intensify cleaning

Along with spreading awareness and offering personal hygiene tips, the next best practice you will want to employ is to intensify your cleaning routine. Let your staff know that they need to be hypervigilant and be on the lookout for areas that need to be cleaned. Research has shown that the germiest surfaces in fitness facilities tend to be on the equipment, not necessarily in bathrooms or locker rooms, so make sure your members are cleaning up after themselves as well. 

To aid your members with this task you could provide disposable cleaning products and wipes with clear signage to indicate where they can dispose of them. If you members prefer using towels to wipe up their stations, make sure they are aware that towels are more likely to pick up germs from potentially contaminated surfaces

Engaging clients outside the gym

Now, just because you want to be cautious about the virus spreading at the gym doesn’t mean that you have to stop promoting healthy diet and exercise tips to your members. In fact, this can provide a unique opportunity to engage your clients outside of the gym. Plus, exercising can boost your immune system and help make you less susceptible to falling ill in general. 

First, you’ll want to make sure that your members know they should stay home if they display any of the symptoms we mentioned above. We bring this up again because even though it might seem counterintuitive to tell them not to come in, the alternative could be much worse. From there, you can send them the following tips and best practices so they can stay fit outside the gym. 

Send at-home workout routines

Rather than waiting for your members to come to you with alternatives to working out at the gym, proactively send them routines they can employ while outside of the gym. Not only will this keep them safe from potentially spreading germs at the gym, but it will keep them exercising so that they don’t lose progress during the interim. 

Encourage outdoor exercises

Another great way to prevent COVID-19 from spreading is by taking your exercises outdoors. You can weave this into your at-home workouts or highlight it separately, but without machines and weights with surfaces that can be contaminated, outdoor exercise becomes an excellent option. You could even hold specialized classes where everyone stays 5 feet apart outside to still maintain that community atmosphere without putting your members at risk. 

Staying safe & healthy

As a gym owner, your members will look to you first to see how they should prepare and change their behaviors to avoid Coronavirus. By setting the tone, providing them with the tools they need, and encouraging them to stay fit regardless of what is happening in the outside world, you can prove your value to them. 

If you have your own tips or tricks for preventing COVID-19 from spreading at your own gym, please let us know!