By: Mark S. Cassidy, MS
Let’s face it, the COVID-19 pandemic (in relation to a baseball analogy) has been a curveball that no one has been able to hit cleanly. That being said, we all still need to stand in the batter box and take our best swing.
As states across the country begin to allow fitness centers, health clubs, wellness centers and athletic facilities to open, there are still numerous precautions that have to be considered with coronavirus. For all of us who are actively involved with the Fitness Industry, we can’t simply think that it is going to be business as usual. Its not. All of us (members, clients, personal trainers) are going to have to be much more conscious and take a proactive approach to try and ensure the safety of everyone. This won’t necessarily be easy, but it is doable.
The following is a usable list of suggestions that should be considered when you prepare to reopen to start fitness sessions and training activities for your client base:
Fitness Facility Usage
- Remove equipment (strength and cardio) from some areas and have it located in another part of your facility to help with physical distancing
- Make some equipment (strength and cardio) unusable (maybe by posting sign on it), then changing which equipment is usable daily
- Utilize multiple doors in the facility – One for “Entrance” – One for “Exit”
- Temporarily remove all fitness accessories and portable recreational equipment (bands, balls, bars, etc.) from the fitness area
- Supply additional cleaning supplies, then require all participants to clean up / wipe down fitness equipment after use
- Require wearing a mask or cloth face shields be worn by everyone in the facility
- Perform temperature checks for everyone entering the facility
- Air flow is key so use your fans in the building and leave your fan setting for the A/C on.
- Require all members or clients to sign a Liability Waver specific to COVID-19
- Additional Hand Sanitizer units should be installed in facility
- Limit that only 2 people may be in any rest room, at any time
- Limit that only 2 people may use the elevator, at any time (if you have one)
- Consider establishing a “fitness room capacity’, then require any interested participant to schedule an appointment time, in order to use the room / equipment
- Consider to temporarily not allow access to the locker rooms / showers
- Consider foot-plates or arm-bars to open the doors in the facility
- Consider offering any live fitness-group classes virtually
- Temporary suspend any recreational activities, games, and competitions on a basketball court, racquetball court, or turf field where intentional or inadvertent physical contact may occur
- Eliminate the use of any room or area that cannot be monitored by a staff member
- Rearrange Fitness Staff or Sales Staff offices, to help with social distancing and allow for immediate cleaning when their use is completed
- Consider adjusting the operating scheduling of the facility (longer of shorter) to accommodate community members who have preexisting health conditions, along with controlling the flow of foot traffic in the facility
- Staggered scheduling for Fitness Staff, so not all the staff members are in the facility at the same time
- Allow Staff Member to work from home, on task and work assignments that do not require them to be in the facility
- Scheduled workout sessions for specific participants, with a limit on the number of participants on the court, field or gym at a time
- Once a group session is concluded, those participants will be required to leave the facility or field, so the next group can participate
- Don’t allow friends or family members to wait in the facility during a session
- Clients are to bring their own fitness or athletic equipment (balls, bands, clothes, etc.), to all fitness training sessions. The Staff will not be allowed give out equipment
- Clients or members must bring their own water or snacks with them to all training sessions
Fitness Facility Rentals
- Any group that wishes to rent or reserve any field or court in the facility must do so through a designated staff representative of the facility, do so 24 hours in advance, and supply a list of all participants who will be using the field or court
- Inactive participants, reserves, or members serving in the capacity of a “coach”, “photographer”, or “referee” must maintain a distance of six feet or more from other persons at all times
- Aforementioned persons must always wear a facial covering, mask, or shield while not participating
- A designated staff member will determine what sports or activities will be permitted on any field or court in the facility, along with having direct and final input on any rules that are associated with predetermined sports or activities
- Recreational and sporting activities with greater rates of contact, whether intentional or incidental, are prohibited
- Participants are to follow self-screening measures prior to entering premises which include temperature and symptom checks. Those who have a body temperature of 100.4F or symptoms suggestive of COVID-19 are prohibited from entering the premises
- Those who exhibit symptoms during play or while on premises, must vacate immediately and seek appropriate medical attention
- Beverages with open containers and food and snacks, specifically gum, lozenges, and sunflower seeds are prohibited due to increased risk of transmission via saliva.
- The sharing of beverages, including water and sports drinks, from the same container, is highly discouraged
- Participants are strongly discouraged from high fiving, handshaking, fist bumping, hugging and sharing other forms of physical contact with one another. Additionally, participants are discouraged from touching their faces with their hands and fingers
- Personal property is to be stored along the perimeter of the field or court, and more than six feet away from possessions belonging to other persons
I recognize that there are a lot of potential rules or restrictions on the list, along with other ones that could be included. However, because we all work at various locations, with different populations, with different requirements, my suggestion would be to apply as many of these as possible to your specific athletic, fitness, and wellness training situation.
Together, we can all make a positive impact on limiting the exposure of COVID-19. Then we can all get back to what it is we like to do – physically training and conditioning our clients, members and athletes… … and swinging for the fences …
Mark S. Cassidy, MS has been actively involved with the Fitness and Athletic Industry for over 25 years.
He has held professional positions with The Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine, World Instructors Training Schools, Philadelphia 76ers, YMCA, Delaware Blue Coats, Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association, and American Heart Association. Mark has an Associate’s degree in Business from Delaware County Community College, a Bachelor’s degree in Exercise Physiology from Temple University, a Master’s degree in Organizational Development/Business Psychology from The Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine, and certification through the National Strength and Conditioning Association. He has professional experience as a Fitness Instructor, Strength Coach, Sports Coach-Counselor, Exercise Therapist, Sales Manager, College Professor, and Athletic Facility Director