By Darren Floro-Bryant

You may have noticed more and more states re-opening their businesses, Georgia being one of the 1st. Gyms were included in Georgia’s first phase, and many gym owners were left scrambling, trying to navigate through the loose guidelines set out by our government.  

This has been both exciting and nerve-wracking at the same time. Rather than panic, there are still many viable options for you to stay fit and focused on your fitness journey. Online training or self-motivated home workouts will always be an option.

But, if heading back into the gym is the path you choose, you need to decide what safety procedures and protocols are important to you. At the top of the list should be a gym that puts you and their staff at the forefront of their decisions.

The new catchphrase that is on everybody’s brain and lips is “Social Distancing.” 6 feet was listed in the guidelines outlined by the government. Still, that distance does not account for the heavier breathing that comes with exercising. So, look for a gym that limits the number of people that are in the facility at any given time. For example, Gravity Fitness immediately implemented an online sign-in system to help limit the number of members in the club with hourly sign-ups. This helped ensure they could keep track of numbers and avoid members being turned away at the door if the gym was exceeding capacity, all while still following social distancing guidelines.  

Also, it would be important for you to visit multiple gyms to see how they reconfigured the equipment on the gym floor. Are machines and equipment spaced out? If some equipment is too close to each other, is this additional equipment taped off from use? What extras are the gyms you’re looking at doing to allow their members to feel a little more comfortable and safe? Has anything additional been done to help outline social distancing? Not only is social distancing important on the gym floor, but how have the auxiliary rooms been handled? Have the bathrooms been taken into consideration, or the extra pieces of high use equipment being looked after? Again, at Gravity, every other sink has been taped off to help members give each other space, and high use equipment was moved to a sign-out procedure to allow for sanitation between each use (i.e., yoga mats).

Speaking of sanitization, this is paramount at this time. What have the gyms done to help keep their facilities clean and sanitized for their members? Feel free to ask the owners what steps they took to sanitize their space before the location was opened to the members. Find out what procedures and practices they have in place to help keep their facility sanitized as members start coming through the door. One facility purchased spray bottles and towels for each member that came into the facility, which empowers members to sanitize the equipment before and after each use. In addition to this, hand sanitizer and disinfectant wipes were placed throughout the gym. 

One way to make things easy to follow and to help reduce confusion and uncertainty is by creating a sense of comfort. Signs that outline everything from reminders to wash your hands, to clearly label the “home” for certain pieces of equipment, and to thank each member for their help and support through this new normal. Remaining transparent and keeping members informed allows members to feel that sense of comfort.

Another important procedure you should consider is the sign-in process. Are all social distancing and safety considerations in place to help keep the members safe as they enter the facility? Temperature checks are mandatory, is this being done? Are there markings on the floor placed 6 feet apart, allowing the members the space they require? At Gravity, these initial steps and more are in place. Every member must sign a waiver (1st visit only), use hand sanitizer, pick up a sanitizing spray bottle and towel, and then a workout towel at each visit.

In addition to all of this, what has the facility done to help protect you while everyone works out? Are face masks important to you? Is it important for you to have just the staff wearing masks, or do you want to be at a facility where every staff and member is wearing a mask helping to keep each other safe?

Regardless of the procedures and considerations, I discussed above, you need to decide what is important to you, and what level of safety you feel is essential. So do your research and find a facility that fits into your safety requirements. Being an independent personal trainer and seeing the level of concern and professionalism that Gravity has shown makes me very comfortable and confident in choosing Gravity Fitness to train my clients. Remember, your health, safety, and fitness is your responsibility, and you need to do what is right for you.

Good luck, stay safe, and stay healthy.