With the reopening of fitness clubs across Canada, facility operators have risen to the challenge of providing a safe environment for both members and staff. However, maintaining compliance with provincial safety protocols and guidelines, including reduced capacity, extensive cleaning and social distancing, has been no easy task.
A survey of club operators by the Fitness Industry Council of Canada (FIC) reported an average increase of 45% in cleaning supplies costs alone, with a few clubs reporting their costs had doubled. All of this in the face of reduced revenues as restrictions limit facility usage, and some members remain cautious about returning.
Despite these challenges, club operators and staff are happy to be back. Feedback from members, as reported in the FIC survey, has been overwhelmingly positive as they return to their workouts, with many showing a strong appreciation to club staff for the efforts taken to keep them safe.
But it’s only natural that as the weeks pass by, and we become more comfortable with our routines, that the risk of complacency from both members and staff can set in. A post-workout ‘team-hug’ photo posted on Instagram by an Alberta group training studio recently caught the attention of provincial health authorities. Not the kind of exposure the fitness industry is seeking.
“For the health of our communities, we all need to be 100% compliant and vigilant about our COVID-19 health club protocols,” says Paula Comfort, partner at 360impact Group. “We need to have a plan and execute that plan on how they will manage internal situations given the issues that might arise. Things are moving fast, therefore clear communication and cooperation is key as we work through this together.”
Comfort points out that as leaders in the health and fitness industry, we need to ‘be the example’ by setting high standards to ensure the health and safety of our communities. She recommends, at a minimum, that club operators implement suitable procedures to ensure:
- no staff or member comes to a club if they have COVID19 symptoms
- no staff or member enters the club if they have been exposed to someone with coronavirus
- any staff or member who has symptoms, or has come into contact with someone with coronavirus, isolate themselves in self-quarantine
- staff/members declare they are symptom free prior to entering the club
- temperature checks are taken (ideally), and that masks are worn in the club when not exercising or when unable to maintain the 2m distance rule
- supervisors are informed immediately if a staff member is sick, to allow precautions with other team/club member to be initiated
- a recovery and contingency plan is in place in the event a staff or club member is deemed symptomatic (Careful communication is critical as to how this is handled. All team members are accountable to enforce these high standards by diplomatically addressing issues of non-compliance if they are observed.)
“As we proceed to reopen and the provinces move to final phases, it is imperative that we are vigilant with our team meetings, compliance to protocol and continuous communication on this matter,” adds Comfort. “As leaders of health clubs, we need to make sure this is a top agenda item for daily, weekly and monthly meetings. We need to inspect what we expect by having a different team member do an inspection daily and walk around the club to observe and detail performance standards. These summaries need to be communicated to all staff and if there are non-compliant individuals, they should be addressed directly and urgently.”
“The success or potential failure of clubs and studios over the next six months will be impacted by the high standards and ongoing culture of safety we are creating for our members and staff.”