Refurbishing your leisure and gym facilities for the future
A growing number of individuals and businesses are starting to recognise that there is no ‘miracle cure’ for COVID-19, and any vaccine could be over a year away from going into mass production.
For indoor hospitality venues like gyms and leisure facilities, this raises significant challenges. However, these venues are also ideally qualified to maintain high levels of hygiene so that they can operate safely over the long term.
UK government guidance for COVID-secure gyms
The government has published sector-specific guidelines for gyms and leisure facilities to open in a COVID-secure way, as well as further guidance if you provide close contact services like sports massage.
Some of this is quite obvious – cleaning surfaces and maintaining social distance, for example – while other aspects like effective ventilation of indoor areas have been less widely discussed in the public domain.
Here are some of the main steps you can take to maintain a COVID-secure gym or leisure centre, which you might want to factor into any future gym refurbishment projects.
1. Reducing contact
One way to create a COVID-secure gym is to reduce direct contact between customers in more ways than just encouraging them to keep their distance on your premises.
Gyms are being asked to minimise the use of changing rooms and showers. Customers should arrive wearing their gym clothes if possible, and should travel home to shower.
2. Reducing noise
Lower noise levels can allow people to talk to each other at a normal volume, instead of shouting – the louder the voice, the further any droplets and aerosol transmission are projected.
Keep background music to lower levels than you normally might, and consider acoustics in any refurbishment work, as some noise insulation and acoustic design could be a big help.
3. Improving ventilation
Outdoor areas are more COVID-secure because the virus disperses to safe levels more quickly in the open air.
Indoors, better ventilation can help. Consider investing in appropriate air conditioning systems as part of any refurbishment, or in smaller venues give some thought to air flow and the availability of exterior doors and windows you can open safely.
4. Cutting capacity
Unfortunately, you may have to cut the maximum capacity of your gym at any one time, in order to ensure people can keep the recommended distance apart.
To mitigate this, you can use one-way systems and physical barriers to prevent people coming close to one another, and place equipment such that people are not facing each other – and therefore breathing in each other’s direction – during their workout.
5. High-density areas
Certain areas are naturally more challenging than others. For example if you only have one main door for both in and out, you need to try to find a way to segregate arriving customers from those just leaving.
Even if you are not allowing use of your changing rooms, customers might want to put their valuables in a locker – so try to have lockers spaced well apart to avoid close contact in those areas too.
A COVID-free approach
No two venues are identical and the guidelines keep changing, but by applying the basic principles of distance and hygiene, you can make your gym or fitness centre as COVID-secure as possible.
If you need any help when planning a refurbishment in the current climate, just give us a call on 0151 236 0707 and we can bring our own expertise to your upcoming gym refit project.