Fitness studios across the country are starting to reopen, and we here in California got the word that our green light to reopen is coming very, very soon. With that news there’s been a buzz of excitement in the air...and also just a little bit of “oh shoot, what do I need to do now.”
The good news is, there is loads of guidance out there. The bad news is, there’s too much guidance out there to know what’s right! So I have been pouring through the California Department of Public Health's Guidelines, other state’s opening guidelines, various brand recommendations and standards and have put together what I believe to be the start of an evolving list of reopening considerations for fitness studios.
I’m breaking it down into 4 important areas related to reopening:
1 - Health and Safety Protocols
2 - Policies and Procedures
3 - Legal and Liability considerations
4 - Group Fit Instructors (GFIs) and Personal Trainers (PTs).
I’m breaking these topics down even further, and chiming in with considerations as a:
Business coach and attorney advising fitness studio owners and fitness business owners;
As an instructor returning to work; and
As a consumer and client of boutique and large fitness studios.
I believe looking at these reopening areas from different perspectives will ensure that we are reopening studios and returning to studios in a safe, smart and successful manner.
HEALTH AND SAFETY PROTOCOLS:
ENTERING THE STUDIO:
-Limit early access to the studio prior to a class and instead ask clients to wait outside until they are welcomed in.
-Have clients use hand sanitizer upon entering.
-Take temperature, sign daily health declaration, proceed to their equipment/space
-Limit personal items into the studio.
6-FEET APART: equipment, people, all of it. Consider moving equipment and marking floors. If you show people where they need to be, instructors included, it makes it easier to maintain.
CLEANING: It’s recommended that studios allow for 20-30 minutes between classes to thoroughly clean the equipment and all high-touch areas with an EPA-approved disinfectant. Clients should be expected to clean all equipment they used during their session. PTs do not need as much time between clients, but need to ensure all touched equipment is cleaned. The entire space should be deep cleaned weekly with an EPA-approved disinfectant.
VENTILATION AND AIRFLOW: Now is the time to test your ventilation system. Consider upgrading to a HEPA filter. If windows are operable and it’s not disruptive to training, keep the open. Ventilation will be key during the cleaning window between classes.
FACEMASKS: most cities require use of facemasks for clients when entering and leaving the studio, but not for working out. CA specifically requires PT’s to wear facemasks when training, but currently no mandate that clients or GFIs wear masks. If you’re looking a facemask that is good for exercise, I’ve found this list to be helpful.
TOUCHLESS: minimize high-touch areas. Prop open the front door so clients don’t have to touch it. Convert your water system to a touchless. Invest in a motion-sensor trash can. Minimize and/or eliminate any excessive touching.
SAFE COACHING: to minimize touching, avoid tactile (hands-on) cueing, high-fives and sweaty hugs. I know - it’s a bummer. But it’s temporary.
POLICIES AND PROCEDURES:
RESERVATION SYSTEM: if you don't have one already, now is a great time to invest in a reservation system to ensure your gym, studio and schedule aren’t overwhelming capacity. However you communicate with clients (through a scheduler like MindBody, via a text app, or personal accounts) be sure to remind clients 26-36 hours prior to their scheduled session or class of your COVID precautionary measures. If they need to bring anything with them (see below) be sure to remind them!
CLIENT EQUIPMENT: you might want to consider requiring clients to provide their own equipment like cycling shoes, pilates straps, etc., to minimize the amount of touching and shared high-touch surfaces. If you are going to require client