When clubs and gyms are reopened in the UK after lockdown restrictions lift, it’s no surprise that social distancing rules are going to drastically change the average gym session for both members and staff alike.
While social distancing is going to be an important change to gym life for the months to come, the question remains:
What does a successful socially distanced gym actually look like?
We’ve already seen lots of creative ideas thrown around, with certain gyms in the US actually sectioning off 2 metre workout areas draped in protective PPE covering. But for the average club owner, they need simple and effective methods to quickly make their gym safe and socially distanced, while keeping everything simple for their members and staff to quickly get into a routine and stay healthy.
So on the theme of keeping things simple, let’s run through what social distancing in a health club is actually going to look like on the day-to-day.
A Socially Distanced Club Means…
All Gym Equipment Will Be Spaced Out Across The Club
If you want to keep your members socially distanced during their workouts, that means you’re going to have to distance all of your workout equipment.
Overall, clubs are going to have to minimise the equipment available on the gym floor because every member is going to need to be able to exercise in an area that allows them to distance from other gym users.
This will take some planning and a lot of heavy lifting in order to best use your space efficiently in order to have as wide of a variety of equipment available in your club, while also adequately spacing out your equipment around your facility.
All of this could account for you needing to cut your equipment down by at least 50%.
However, this is also an opportunity to maximise your space. If you have areas that you would usually use for classes, you could potentially use these as part of your main gym floor in order to keep as much of your equipment available for your members to use.
Increased Signage & One Way Systems Throught The Club
In light of your entire gym layout changing, this will require some new signage in order to help your members learn the new rules and guide themselves around the facility.
All of your efforts will be for nil if your members aren’t following the protocols to keep themselves and your club safe and healthy. And with minimal staff on the floor, you can’t have confused members asking for help from your already busy staff members.
Clear and simple to understand signage should decorate your club and you should be ready to update and change signage based on your member’s feedback or confusion.
One way systems may also be required for some clubs, depending on their layout, which will require further markings on the floor in order to clearly create a path for your members to work their way around your facility.
Cleaning Equipment & Sanitisers On Every Machine
Club members should be no stranger to wiping down equipment after a workout (well…most of them anyway). That process is going to continue, but is going to be enforced far more strictly.
Hand sanitiser should be found at the following locations:
1 – Every entrance and exit to the gym
2 – Next to every single piece of equipment, to be used before and after use
3 – Outside any locker or toilet facilities
Along with hand sanitiser, equipment should also have a complete cleaning facility, including paper towels and anti bacterial spray, which members should be requested to clean the equipment with after use…without fail!
Overall, your team should be visibly cleaning the facility throughout the day, which is partly for cleanliness and partly to demonstrate that you’re taking the situation seriously and keeping your members feeling comfortable and safe.
Limited or Zero Access To Showers / Saunas / Steam Rooms
While there is little evidence that Coronavirus is spread easier in environments like Showers and Saunas (we have information like this in our Coronavirus FAQ that clubs can send out to their members), the fact remains that they are high contact environments that are difficult to control.
Because of this, it is likely that clubs are going to have to completely close, or largely restrict access to certain areas of thier facility, such as showers, saunas, steam rooms and changing rooms.
In surveys that we’ve conducted with our gym Prime Fitness Redditch, we asked our own members their opinions on limiting access to locker rooms and our shower facilities. The good news is that a majority of our members were completely fine with this given the circumstances, although several mentioned they would not like this on a long term basis.
Regardless of your members’ response, it’s clear that in order to keep your members safe and make sure your gym is not a source of contamination, that you will likely have to close your changing facilities and saunas where you cannot guarantee social distancing.
However, the best practice with this is to use surveys in order to keep your members updated and get their feedback so that you can quickly respond and relieve any confusion or frustrations that your members may have.
Gym Sessions Booked By Appointment
Restricting the actual numer of members who can enter your facility at any one time is a major part of social distancing.
Afterall, it would be self defeating to half the equipment in your gym, only for a packed gym full of members to be impatiently waiting to use the limited equipment.
Having a system in place for your members to book appointments in order to use the gym is the best way to do this. If you have a class booking system in place, this will be best retrofitted to take bookings for the gym in general.
Ashbourne customers already have access to a specially built gym sessions booking system, as well as an automated system that creates a reservation list and gives members the ability to come to the gym earlier if there is a cancellation – all done automatically without the need for staff to keep track of it.
Once again, clear communication with your members is key here, so they understand how the process works, but also understand why the process is in place in order to ease the transition into a socially distanced club environment.
A Continuing Focus On Online Classes & Online Only Memberships
Based on our own findings, we’ve discovered that members over 50 are far more likely to be concerned about returning to gyms immediately after they reopen.
Why do we mention this?
Because the data shows that all members aren’t the same.
Club owners are going to have to be highly aware of the demographics of their gym and fit their reopen plan to them.
As a business, you’re also need to find a way to give a valuable service to your members who are inevitably going to become impatient with the fact that they can’t enter the gym whenever they want, with social distancing and session booking in place.
Between the issue of members potentially not wanting to return to the club straight away, and the restrictions place on those that are returning, there needs to be a huge focus on providing online classes, workouts and support to keep your members engaged with your gym.
But this isn’t a cause for concern, this can be a huge opportunity to deliver a wider service:
Any classes you run, you can now livestream.
You can create extra revenue by providing an online only membership.
Post more free help and support to your members online to get them believing in your brand.
There Are Big Opportunities For Your Club Here…
Today’s obstacles can evolve into a better service for your members, if you plan your relaunch correctly.
The current restrictions can provide the inspiration to you to come up with smarter ways to increase your revenue.
A successful post-COVID club needs to implement social distancing changes quickly, while also using the new setup to maximise their revenue and demonstrate to their members that they care and are listening.
The socially distanced club is a strange new frontier, but if we pull together and plan ahead, we can leave lockdown with an industry that has greater reach to our customers, reaching far into the future when social distancing is a thing of the past.
If you want to talk to Ashbourne about helping you get your gym “social distance” ready, then get in touch with us and we can give you the support, software and tools you need to hit the ground running for your reopen date.