GOOD NEWS for all gym owners waiting for the long-expected light at the end of the tunnel. Gyms are part of Phase One of “Opening Up America Again”.

We as the IFPA believe this is great news for all of you that operate a gym. There are still some questions regarding physical distancing and sanitation that need to be answered and we’ve received many questions on this topic.

The very first question we received was from Cynthia, located in St. Augustine, Florida, USA. Cynthia owns and operates Real Women Lift, an 800 square feet facility that specializes in group strength training for women ranging from 35-75 in age.

Cynthia asked, “Gyms can reopen if they adhere to strict guidelines – I checked with CDC and can not find anything pertaining to health clubs, fitness centers, gyms, or health studios. Do you have insight into these guidelines?” While Cynthia was the first to ask this question, we have received many more inquiries on this same issue. And it is a huge issue.

Our IFPA Global Family has taken a hit. Worldwide our Gym Owners, Studio Owners, Personal Trainers, and Fitness Professionals experienced great hardship during this lockdown. Whether you are a Gym Owner that had to shut down, or a Trainer, whose gym shut down, everyone is in the same boat and desperate to get back to the grind. Everyone wants to get back to business as usual, but as Cindy pointed out, Gyms can only open if they adhere to strict guidelines. The truth is, it won’t be business as usual. At least not right away.

The direct quote from Opening Up America Again is “GYMS can open if they adhere to strict physical distancing and sanitation protocols.”

We know this isn’t going to happen overnight.

During the Press Conference, the following guidelines must be met before Phase 1 can begin:

  • The downward trajectory of influenza-like illnesses and a downward trajectory of COVID-like syndromic cases reported within a 14-day period,
  • The downward trajectory of documented cases or downward trajectory of positive tests as a percent of total tests within a 14-day period (flat or increasing volume of tests),
  • Hospitals can treat all cases without crisis care, and a robust testing program is in place for at-risk healthcare workers, including emerging antibody testing.

While the exact date and guidelines have not been published, you need to develop a comprehensive plan to reopen.

Here are the 7 key steps you need to take in order to be prepared when Phase One is a go!

Step 1: Tackle social distancing, by looking at factors such as overall layout:

  • What is your gym setup like?
  • What is the flow of traffic?
  • What are the choke points?
  • How close are the benches?
  • How close are the treadmills?

Step 2: Once you recognize the strengths and weaknesses of your overall layout, use arrows to mark the floor, directing traffic.

Step 3: Place about 6 to 6.5 feet (2 meters) between equipment.

Step 4: Use grid tape at check-in to ensure proper spacing (like you see in grocery stores)

Step 5: Restructure Group Fitness Classes. Consider factors such as space, equipment needs, and the number of attendees. Use grid tape to mark spots in group classes.

  • One of our Gym Owners reported having to limit the capacity of Group Classes to 75%, another had to cut it back to 50%.
  • Evaluate your situation and have realistic expectations for reopening. You may have to cut classes to 75%, 50%, or 25%.
  • Consider live streaming your classes for people that want to attend, but can’t, due to the smaller class sizes. Have a first-come, first-serve sign-up. Once the spots are all filled, invite everyone else to live stream.

Step 6: Perform an in-depth assessment of your current sanitation protocols to discover any areas that need beefing up. Consider all areas of your gym including, check-in, the gym floors, equipment, group classroom, bathrooms, etc.

  • Place hand sanitizer at the entrance and require every individual stepping into the gym to lather up. This should be done as members leave as well.
  • Contact every single gym member now. Ensure they have a mask available to them when returning. Purchase extra masks to have at the gym for those members that either forget their mask or do not have a mask. It is extremely likely there will be a requirement that members wear a surgical mask when they are in the gym.

Step 7: The number one tip every IFPA Gym Owner Suggested?! Be in constant contact with your members. Whether they are exercising in some way, shape, or form with you, or not. You must stay in contact with your members. Along with checking in on how they are doing, inform them of the new changes and requirements. This will allow for a more seamless transition as the gym re-opens.

This is unprecedented in every way. Start preparing now. Don’t wait for the guidelines to be published, because you will be behind the power curve.

Everyone has an opinion and you might actually feel like a scientist with all the reading and research you have done on all aspects of this thing. I implore you from the bottom of my heart, whatever you believe, whatever your take is on this whole thing, listen to the guidelines. Implement the requirements regardless of how inconvenient or expensive it is. I promise you; a lawsuit would be far worse.

Hang in there IFPA Family! There is a light at the end of the tunnel. We will post updates as we receive them. Stay safe, stay sane. We will get through this together.

Still not sure what to do or you don’t know how to adapt? We can help you out! Give us a shout with your questions so we can get back to you with more ideas. Or ask for an individual consultation call with Alex, our Director of European Education.

Checkout the Guidelines Opening Up American Again here.

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