As winter approaches, flu season is getting underway. Fitness clubs face the challenge of keeping guests healthy despite high traffic and ample opportunities to spread contagious infections like influenza or the common cold. The 2018-2019 flu season was the longest in a decade, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), likely due to a “second wave” of infections that began in February. Accordingly, gym and fitness club managers should be prepared with an effective cleaning and hygiene program that minimizes common respiratory infections and earns repeat visitors.
Know What You’re Up Against
The common cold and the flu are viral respiratory infections that are constantly adapting and re-emerging in slightly different biological forms. Because of their adjustable nature, they are nearly impossible to avoid. However, facilities managers can take steps to minimize their impact on employees and guests. Understanding how these viruses operate and the magnitude of their pervasiveness is essential.
- The common cold – Adults in the United States catch an average of 2-3 colds every year. Fitness clubs should try to avoid being the place where the cold virus spreads. Managers should require employees to stay home if they catch a cold – or any common virus – instead of putting valued customers at risk.
- Influenza – The flu season in 2018-2019 lasted 21 weeks, but it was less severe than the previous year. According to the CDC, during the 2017-2018 flu season, an estimated 49 million Americans were infected and more than 950,000 were hospitalized due to the flu. Its frequency is a significant risk for fitness clubs, but another less obvious risk is that people don’t exhibit symptoms until 1-4 days after catching the flu. This underscores the importance of keeping a clean, hygienic facility: you may have flu-infected guests who just don’t know they’re sick yet.
The new year begins in the middle of flu season, and fitness-related new year’s resolutions drive many people into gyms. Adhering to these best practices will give your gym a leg up when it comes to maintaining guest hygiene and turning new customers into members.
- Keep hands clean: The fact that 80% of common infections, including the flu, are spread by hands should motivate fitness club managers to prioritize hand hygiene. Additionally, the flu virus can survive on human hands for up to five minutes. Managers should strategically place hand sanitizer dispensers in accessible, high-traffic areas throughout the facility, including entrances, weight areas and locker rooms. Look for versatile hybrid dispensers with automatic and manual options for continuous hygiene, even if batteries run out. Encourage frequent and proper handwashing by employees and visitors: the CDC recommends 15-30 seconds per wash to effectively remove germs.
- Put the best products to work: Some of the most potent disinfectants on the market are also toxic and environmentally harmful. Look for a sustainable, non-toxic alternative that provides fast-acting disinfection for efficient cleaning. For example, on equipment like treadmills, the product should work quickly enough to clean handles and screens in the machine’s brief downtime between users.
- Focus on floors: Floors are one of the areas of a gym that is most susceptible to viruses, whether from germ-covered hands performing pushups or snow-coated shoes tracking in outside contaminants, Since most gym floors are hard surfaces, these microbes can survive for up to 24 hours if the floor is not sanitized. Gym staff should mop floors at every opportunity without hindering guests during their workouts. Utilize easy-to-dispense floor-cleaning chemicals to achieve maximum effectiveness and sustainability.
A well-rounded approach featuring disciplined cleaning, quality products and a strong focus on hand hygiene is a gym’s best defense against the flu and the common cold. At the height of flu season, as newly motivated gym-goers pile into fitness club to get in shape for the new year, the above best practices will help managers and staff keep them as healthy as possible.
Learn more about infection prevention solutions from Diversey to support your fitness club, including our Bathroom Disinfectants/Cleaners and Oxivir & Virex Products, or reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.