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Reopening Playbook for the Fitness Industry

Expert recommendations include enhanced safety measures, hygiene and education.

Reopening gyms

Bill McBride, co-founder, president and CEO of Active Wellness, based in San Francisco, and contributing editor to ACSM’s Health/Fitness Facility Standards and Guidelines, 5th ed. (Human Kinetics 2018), advises fitness professionals on safety as they reopen their businesses and seek to reassure customers and staff.

“Exercise is essential for well-being,” says McBride. With proper sanitation, physical distancing and an abundance of care, facilities can be safer for staff and customers. McBride recommends the following Standards of Operations:

Enhanced safety measures. Use technology to reduce physical contact; for example, implement touchless check-in and cashless operations. Add more sanitation stations and take 30-minute cleaning breaks after 90 minutes of use. Cover all water fountains and pause nonessential services. Provide face masks for staff and do thermometer temperature checks.

Social distancing. Schedule fewer operation hours and limit capacity for training rooms and lockers. Use every other piece of equipment. Implement an online reservations system and remember to hang signage reminders for 6-foot distancing. 

Education and communication. Provide staff training and video tutorials on new practices, and create a member code of conduct. Post signage reminders throughout the facility.

If there’s a COVID-19 infection among staff or members, McBride recommends facility closure for a minimum of 24 hours or as long as it takes to do a thorough disinfection.

To learn more and to purchase facility signage, go to activewellness.com/reopening-signage.


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Shirley Archer-Eichenberger, JD, MA

Shirley Archer, JD, MA, is an internationally acknowledged integrative health and mindfulness specialist, best-selling author of 16 fitness and wellness books translated into multiple languages and sold worldwide, award-winning health journalist, contributing editor to Fitness Journal, media spokesperson, and IDEA's 2008 Fitness Instructor of the Year. She's a 25-year industry veteran and former health and fitness educator at the Stanford Prevention Research Center, who has served on multiple industry committees and co-authored trade books and manuals for ACE, ACSM and YMCA of the USA. She has appeared on TV worldwide and was a featured trainer on America's Next Top Model.

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