How to Prepare Your Fitness Studio in the Time of Coronavirus
By Lauren McAlister
This information contained herein does not constitute medical, financial, legal, or other professional advice and is meant to be used solely for informational purposes. It does not take into account your specific circumstances and should be not acted on without full understanding of your current situation, future goals and/or objectives by a qualified professional. MINDBODY, Inc. assumes no liability for actions taken in reliance upon the information contained herein.
At your fitness business, your clients are everything. And while it’s unlikely of a COVID-19, or coronavirus, outbreak in your community, it’s important to do your part to prepare—rather than panic. To make sure you’re updated on the status of the coronavirus, visit the World Health Organization website, daily.
If you offer group fitness classes at your facility, then you know one of the best things about them is that you get to bring the community together and build meaningful relationships amongst your clients. However, there are certain instances where you may need to temporarily fine-tune your studio’s offerings to keep everyone healthy.
In the spirit of minimising disruption to your clients' lives and your business, you’ll want to put a plan in place to keep your community safe.
Here are a few considerations to help you prepare your fitness business:
If you're still open:
It’s likely you already prioritise the cleanliness of your fitness facility, but now's the time to take extra precautionary measures.
What we know so far about the coronavirus is that it spreads like any other respiratory illness, through particles in the air caused by coughing or sneezing. With that in mind, keeping your studio or gym squeaky clean is important.
This includes having:
Tissues readily available
Hand sanitiser throughout your facility
Disposable wipes for commonly used surfaces (think mats, free weights, ballet barres, etc.) that can be wiped down by both employees and clients
Vitamin C packets for employees and members to take on-the-go
Signs throughout your facility reminding clients of proper hygiene
After each class, make a point to thoroughly wipe down all equipment used—even if you encourage your clients to do so on their own—and deep clean your studio daily with disinfectant. Although this may require additional staff for a bit, the peace of mind is well worth the additional cost and effort.
Although many fitness facilities prioritise teamwork and partner-based workouts—which we normally support, by the way—it's best to minimise these types of movement. For now, workouts that require physical contact or are partner-based (i.e., partner sit-ups, wheelbarrows, and even high-fives) should go on the back burner in favor of exercises that can be performed alone.
This is also a perfect opportunity to dip your toes into video-on-demand workouts. That way, clients concerned with protecting themselves and their families don’t need to leave their homes to take part in your community and get their sweat on.
Stream a live workout via Zoom or use social media platforms like Facebook or Instagram Live. Prefer more polished footage? Record, edit, and add to Facebook, IGTV, and YouTube. With video, you can continue to connect with clients without being physically present.
First and foremost, encourage any staff members who are sick to stay home. Now’s not the time to chance having a sick instructor or front-desk person in your studio.
For those employees who are under the weather, or prefer to stay home during this time to err on the side of caution, you’ll want a back-up plan and plenty of coverage for your classes (we recommend having multiple instructors on call for each class offering on your schedule).
Put an instructor substitution process in place and communicate updates to clients as much as possible. If you’re a Mindbody customer, alerting customers of substitutions is easy with auto-emails and texts.
For those who do clock in, be sure to inform them of your heightened cleaning procedures and modified workouts (remember, no partner-based exercises).
Reiterate how important it is for each employee to:
Wash their hands before and after class
Cough into their arms, rather than out in the open
Minimise hands-on adjustments as much as possible
Disinfect every piece of equipment used during a workout
To communicate these updates, send an email, let them know in-person, and consider putting up a poster in your staff break room as a continued reminder.
If you do have to close your facility, assign a process for your staff to give you updates on their status. A group text or group Facebook message can serve this purpose so you can keep track of your team.
You’ve taken the precautions above—but what happens if prevention isn't enough and you have to close your studio?
Communication is key.
Make sure you have accurate and up-to-date contact information for all customers. This makes it easier to communicate updates and direction regarding how the virus is impacting your business, including opening hours and the status of your location(s). If you’re a Mindbody customer, it’s easy to "Schedule a Closed Business Day” within your software (under Manager Tools) that will be displayed on your client-facing schedule.
Next, use your email platform to send an all-studio update or, if you have a branded mobile app, a push notification to all your clients.
If you rely on a landline phone at your studio, forward those calls to a mobile number as a back-up so you won’t miss them if you need to be away from your facility.
Also, use your social media pages to give customers updates on your studio, opening hours, and staff. They'll want to know how you’re doing and when they can expect to access your services again.
We certainly hope you don’t need to do any of the above but if you do, you’re ready—and we’re here to support you along the way. The silver lining of increasing vigilance in these habits will greatly decrease the chances of anyone in your community getting sick—much less coronavirus.
For the latest updates on the coronavirus, visit the World Health Organization website.