With a recent report from Europe Active using Safe Active data suggesting of 185 million visits across the continent, an overall rate of 0.87 COVID-19 cases per 100,000 health club visits was recorded, SBFM poses the question: contrary to some opinions, are health clubs and gyms actually some of the safest places for people to spend time?
Much has been made about the contribution that the fitness and leisure sector has made to supporting health and wellbeing throughout the pandemic, and the uptake in physical activity is one we are likely to see continue into 2022 and beyond.
Naturally as we head into 2022, many people are seeking to make good on their New Year’s fitness resolutions and sign-up to their local gym. In fact, according to IHRSA, 12% of all gym sign-ups happen in January, while the rest of the year accounts for an average of 8.3% of sign-ups.
During these challenging times, however – particularly amid rising COVID cases, the threat of a new variant and possible further lockdown restrictions on a knife-edge – many gym members may remain cautious about returning to leisure environments. This despite Government advice stating that all forms of sport and physical activity can still take place with no restrictions (albeit with the necessary precautions).
The rise of home fitness and exercising outdoors may see some members choosing not to renew in 2022, however this year’s IHRSA Global Report suggests many surviving health and fitness clubs have already seen significant increases in membership, outpacing pre-pandemic numbers.
As we look to the future, all signs point to a strong comeback for the fitness industry. So, just how are gyms assuring their memberships of a safe workout space and maintaining footfall amidst a global pandemic?
A safer gym
The pandemic may have forced the $97 billion global health club industry to change its operations to limit person-to-person interaction, but it is such adaptiveness that has provided hope for traditional gyms and leisure centres in an era of downturn for many other industries.
Sanitation was already high on the agenda for gyms, whether that was members using a towel to cover seats, wiping down equipment before and after use, or regularly washing hands. It is such an approach that has laid the foundation for more stringent measures employed by clubs during the pandemic.
In truth, the national health crisis has only served to accelerate existing trends towards enhanced hygiene in the industry, with gyms throughout the UK now implement extensive cleaning protocols to keep visitors safe and healthy while they train.
Attention to detail is imperative in gym environments. Periodic schedules performed within many fitness environments now include systematic cleaning across all areas, from workout zones, to changing facilities, washrooms and entrances, amongst others.
During the day this will typically involves a more cursory inspection and clean-up of the facilities, including dusting furnishing and fixtures, regular disinfecting of machinery, the sanitisation of touchpoints, as well as sweeping, mopping and vacuuming floors, waste management, and cleaning of washrooms, to name just a few. While more reactive cleaning of spills and hazards will also be incorporated.
While a more thorough cleaning of critical areas after closing is also essential. This involves the careful cleaning of toilets and showers necessary to preserve hygiene, carpet cleaning and regular deep cleaning when the building is empty to help protect against microbial infection and help maintain an elevated level of hygiene in your premises.
Effective infection control techniques can also safeguard against secondary outbreaks by providing a 30-day protective shield against COVID-19 and other pathogens.
Of course, cleaning programs should be carefully tailored to the requirements and challenges of the individual site. Be those adapting regimes to occupancy levels, the size of the facility or even specific events such as classes. Depending on operational hours, schedules could include early morning cleaning before your premises opens, evening cleans after operational hours, or even increasing the visibility of cleaners during working hours to provide great reassurance to employees.
Given the critical role the play in maintaining the health and wellbeing of the nation, it should come as little surprise that gyms and health centres perform so well when it comes to hygiene.
Indeed, the figure of one positive case per 100,000 visits – 60 per cent lower than the 1.7 cases per 100,000 visits to fitness facilities reported between July 2020 and the end of December 2020 – suggests that advanced cleaning regimes are working.
Particularly when you consider, this is in stark contrast to COVID-19 rates among the general population – as reported by the UK government – of 160.6 cases for every 100,000 people living in the UK during the same period. Theoretically meaning that non-gym goers are 160 times more likely to get COVID-19 than gym-goers.
SBFM deliver a best-in-class service that produces unrivalled levels of cleanliness and consistency across a multitude of fitness environments. To find out how we can provide a tailored solution for your facilities, visit: https://sb-fm.co.uk/leisure-and-hospitality-cleaning/