After several long months of sheltering in place, some businesses are starting to reopen their doors. But we’re still a long way from normal. Businesses are still required to follow strict social distancing guidelines, creating an extra challenge for businesses like gyms and fitness studios that rely on group classes for revenue.
Pike13 encourages all of our customers to take extra precautions and follow local social distancing guidelines as they begin to reopen their facilities. Visit our Help Center for more information on preparing your Pike13 site for reopening.
Listen to the Experts
Your first priority has to be keeping your clients and staff safe. Follow all CDC guidelines for cleaning and disinfecting your space. You’ll also need to follow all local social distancing guidelines. Every state is different, so make sure you research the specific requirements your business needs to meet to reopen.
Public health experts are recommending that businesses continue to practice social distancing inside their facilities, and many states are enforcing limited capacity in indoor spaces. Wearing masks and gloves is also encouraged as much as possible.
A good way to promote social distancing is placing markers on your floors that mark off spaces of 6 feet. There are several companies offering floor decals for this purpose, but you can easily do it yourself. Many gyms, for example, are using chalk to cordon off areas for each client.
For the Fitness Industry
We encourage our fitness customers to follow the reopening guidelines published by the Association of Fitness Studios. Their recommendations cover everything from cleaning and sanitation to programming modifications and ventilation systems.
Modify Your Schedule
Our world has been changed by COVID-19, and you'll need to adjust your business model to fit this new reality.
Chances are, at least some of the class content you offered Pre-COVID can’t safely be done right now. You’ll need to either drop this content or modify it.
Build Social Distancing into Programming
It will be important for your clients to remain at least six feet apart and stay in their own space for the duration of the class, so adjust any programming that relies on interaction. Clients will also need their own equipment for every exercise and access to sanitation materials.
Implement a Hybrid Class Model
By law you’ll have to implement a cap on the number of people who can be in your facility at any given time. This doesn’t mean you have to limit your classes to just a few clients; have the others join virtually! This hybrid class model is likely to become the new normal, at least for now.
Depending on the size of your facility, you may not be able to hold multiple classes at the same time anymore. You may also need to add in half an hour of cleaning time for every hour of classes. Not to mention, clients will understandably be nervous about coming in.
For all of these reasons, consider paring down your schedule, at least for now. As economies open further and clients regain trust and start to feel safe again, attendance will naturally rise and you can make further adjustments.
Address Client Anxiety
Clients will be nervous to step into facilities no matter what you say to assure them. It will be important to over-communicate about what you are doing to keep them safe. Before your doors open, post your new safety measures and procedures on your website. Email them to your members and share them on social media. Post signs around your facility.
Some clients may want to come back to your facility right away; others may want to wait a while longer just to be safe. Take all concerns very seriously and let your clients know that you look forward to seeing them in person soon, when they’re ready. In the meantime, give them the link to your virtual class schedule.
It’s not just your business that needs to adjust. There will be new guidelines for your clients to follow, too. These might include:
- Signing a waiver that says they agree to follow safety protocols
- Following social distancing guidelines and maintaining at least 6 feet of space
- Using hand sanitizer when entering the facility
- Sanitizing any equipment both before and after use
Whatever your new guidelines are, make sure you communicate them very clearly to your clients. They should also be posted at all entrances to your facility.
You’ll also need to explain to your clients how classes will work for the time being. Let them know if you’re offering hybrid classes, how to request an in-person session, and any other details of your new schedule.
Following strict guidelines is critical for keeping clients and your greater community safe. Laying out expectations will help you rebuild trust with your clients and make them feel more comfortable about coming in for a class.
I’ve talked a lot in this post about clients being nervous, but it’s understandable if you and your staff are feeling a bit nervous, too. We’re all coming to terms with our new reality and what it means for us. We’re all trying to regain the trust we had in each other and our environment. It will take time, but we’ll get there.
You should have a plan in place in case the virus resurges and you have to temporarily close again. But remember that you survived a closure once, and you can do it again if you have to. For now, there’s no reason not to stay positive. Business may operate differently, but your passion for teaching and your clients’ passion for learning and improving is unchanged. Together we’ll keep moving forward.