IHRSA publishes gym reopening checklist
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IHRSA publishes gym reopening checklist

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As Gyms and health clubs around the world begin to consider their plans for reopening over the next weeks and months, the IHRSA has provided a checklist for operators to consider.

The industry body has produced 18 "questions" for operators to consider when planning how and when to open clubs.

These have been broken down into four categories:

  1. Containment
  2. Cleaning and Sanitation
  3. Staffing
  4. Operations

IHRSA says all reopenings after the COVID-19 shutdown should at first include extensive social distancing and enhanced cleaning, with clubs needing to ensure they have adequate staffing and supplies to execute their plans.

It also stresses that operators must adhere to any advice and guidance from authorities in the area they operate in.

"With any plan, it is essential that the decision to reopen complies with the most up-to-date information from national, regional, state, and local authorities with regards to a reopening timetable and any restrictions you must put in place upon reopening," IHRSA says.

See the 18-point list below. To read the advice on the IHRSA website, click here.

Questions to consider

Health club reopening plan: Containment

1. How will your club limit the number of people in the facility at one time to comply with social distancing requirements, and how will this be monitored and enforced?

According to Pure International Group CEO Colin Grant, when clubs in China first opened, members could reserve access to the club in 90-minute time blocks, and staff cleaned the club for an hour between these appointments. Staff will need to be factored into the number of people in the club at one time if your government has put limits in place.

2. Will you reopen group or small group exercise with extreme social distancing?

If you do open group exercise classes, how will you ensure classes are formatted to avoid sharing equipment and spaces?

3. What will you do about your virtual offerings?

Will you continue group classes virtually? What about personal training? How will reopening impact virtual offerings?

For example, some at-risk groups (older people, people with chronic disease) may not be able to return right away. Virtual offerings can still be of great benefit to these groups, and reopening planning could be a good time to consider how virtual services fit into your plans moving forward.

4. How will you enforce social distancing?

This should include cardio machines, in the free weight area, or other club locations such as locker rooms or pool areas.

Some clubs may place towels or signs over every other machine or – if it is safe to do so – strategically unplug or switch off machines or just move them off the floor. Social distancing may be more challenging in the free weight area or areas where movement is more fluid.

5. What changes to policies or procedures will you implement to prevent people from congregating in certain areas?

For example, will your usual setup for check-in bring people into close quarters, making safe social distancing impossible? Some reopening clubs have kept locker rooms closed, except for toilet facilities, to maintain social distancing.

Health club reopening plan: cleaning and sanitation

6. How often will staff clean machines and surfaces?

How will you clean group exercise studios between classes, if you offer them? What cleaning products will they use for each? An outline of cleaning protocols and a schedule will help you coordinate staffing and supply needs.

7. Are there any hard-to-clean items you should remove from the floor?

Examples may include bands, hand weights, yoga blocks, mats and towels for stretching, and certain types of foam rollers.

8. Are there any additional cleaning procedures you will add, such as ultraviolet light or fog cleaning?

Consider how this will impact supply and staffing needs. Start researching vendors early to ensure you have the supplies needed to implement your plan.

Consider whether employees can be present during certain procedures like fog cleaning, and if not, how will you time when they are done.

9. How will staff who are responsible for cleaning be protected from exposure?

For example, will they be provided or required to wear gloves or face coverings? In some areas, this is mandated by law; in other areas consumer preference defacto requires it. In China, club staff and members use masks. However, in many parts of the world masks are not accessible to consumers, due to shortages of these items for healthcare workers.

10. Will you require members and staff who are not cleaning to wear protective clothing, such as a face cover?

The CDC now recommends “wearing cloth face coverings in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain.” Cloth face coverings can add a layer of protection, given that COVID-19 can be transmitted by people who are not showing any symptoms and don’t know they are infected.

11. How will you communicate and enforce good member cleaning practices?

For example, how will you ensure your members clean their equipment and space before and after use, wash hands regularly, and cover their cough? What can you put in place to make good cleaning and hygiene practices easy for them?

Health club reopening plan: staffing

12. How many staff members do you need to carry out phase one reopening?

13. Which staff members will you bring back on board to fill these roles, and how will you communicate any changes to their responsibilities or roles?

14. What will you do to ensure your practices protect returning staff from exposure to COVID-19?

Will you test employees for COVID-19 before the return to work if testing is available? Will you do daily monitoring of employee health (e.g. temperature checks)?

15. What additional training will employees need before the club reopens in a post-COVID-19 environment?

Health club reopening plan: operations

16. How will you time the reopening of different sections of your club?

Will you reopen all at once, or in stages? In China, clubs reopened the main facilities in phase one, while locker rooms, showers, and pools remained closed. Some clubs have chosen to allow locker rooms to remain open for toilet use, but not for changing. Consider which segments of your club you plan to open first, and outline a timeline for reopening subsequent segments.

17. Do you need to make any upgrades or changes to your current services to meet new needs that come with a limited reopen?

For example, if you decide that members need to book a time slot to visit the club, does your software currently support that?

18. Are there any services you have implemented during closure that you will continue after you reopen?

Consider whether these services will be accessible to the public, how they will be priced, and how they will align with existing services.

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As gyms and health clubs around the world begin to consider their plans for reopening over the next weeks and months, the International Health Racquet & Sportsclub Association (IHRSA) has provided a checklist for operators to consider.

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