The COVID-19 pandemic reshaped hotel operations in many areas, from contactless check-in to keyless room entry to QR codes for restaurant menus. Hotel gym operations and cleaning protocols have also changed in response to pandemic health and safety concerns. Many of these changes are projected to become mainstays in 2021 and beyond to meet guest expectations for enhanced cleaning and hygiene protocols.
For most hotel guests, the best location, five-star restaurants and over the top amenities have taken a back seat to high standards for health and safety. According to a TripAdvisor survey, cleanliness is the most important factor in determining accommodations after COVID-19. Of survey respondents thinking about traveling after the pandemic, 89 percent ranked cleanliness as extremely/very important in selecting an accommodation.
To help boost guest confidence in using hotel fitness facilities, hoteliers can follow some best practices for operational procedures, cleaning and sanitizing protocols, communicating with transparency, and developing innovative fitness options for guests.
Gym Operational Procedures
- Consider closing the fitness center for windows of time each day for cleaning, adding more sanitizing materials to high-traffic areas and increasing the frequency of deep cleans.
- Provide an abundance of wipe stations and/or spray bottles for guests to clean their workout stations.
- Align cleaning processes with CDC and WHO recommendations for cleaning and disinfecting public spaces and EPA-approved disinfectants to eliminate COVID-19 on surfaces.
- Frequently clean areas around the fitness center, such as the changing rooms, showers, and toilets.
- Assign staff to clean machines, workout accessories and area surrounding equipment on a regular schedule, ideally once an hour.
- Provide instructions for guests to clean their stations after use, including cleaning benches, barbells, and weights when finished.
- Set a schedule for staff to deep clean the strength area, post the schedule for guests to see, and make sure to follow it.
- Use non-abrasive, chlorine and ammonia-free cleaners for equipment to keep them in good shape and avoid corrosion.
- Consider using electrostatic disinfectant sprayers or sustainable cleaning options such as ultraviolet light to clean every surface of the gym quickly and effectively.
Cleaning & Safety Considerations for Gym Areas—Cardio Area
- Space cardio equipment at least 6 feet apart. If space is limited, turn every other piece of cardio equipment off and place a sign on the consoles indicating the equipment is out of service. If turning off every other cardio unit is not an option, consider only allowing one guest at a time in 30 or 60 minute intervals.
- Instruct guests to follow traditional gym etiquette and wipe down machines after use.
- When wiping down cardio equipment, avoid spraying cleaning solutions directly on the equipment. Instead, spray into cleaning cloth and then wipe down.
- In addition to cleaning all obvious touch points like seats and handles, wipe down entire frame of the equipment.
- Clean the floor surrounding cardio equipment to wipe away sweat from a workout session.
- Space benches, weight racks and other commonly used stations at least 6 feet apart for proper social distancing.
- Do not forget to deep clean dumbbells and weight plates.
- When cleaning selectorized equipment, don’t forget to wipe down the weight selector pin.
- Deep cleaning multi-functional selectorized equipment should include all the accessories, such as the tricep rope, D-ring handles and ankle straps.
- Avoid station rotations during classes. If space permits, mark off individual workout areas for your guests.
- Limit the number of people in each class or studio to ensure proper social distancing measures.
- Create a procedure script for instructors to go over before every class to ensure each member is aware of the new normal and behaves appropriately.
- If needed, provide each instructor with their own headset, and clean it thoroughly after each use.
- Clean mats, weights, and anything else used or touched during the class once finished.
- Provide cleaning supplies for guests to disinfect their used items at the end of the class.
Communication & Transparency
To build trust with guests and ease concerns about using fitness facilities, hoteliers should be transparent and consistent in communicating measures the hotel is taking to make sure the fitness area is clean and safe for guests to use.
- Provide obvious signage highlighting cleaning and hygiene protocols and outlining cleaning schedules in the fitness center as well as in guest rooms. These are simple and effective ways to instill guest confidence and trust in the safety of the facility.
- Use social media to showcase cleaning policies and practices to create a safe environment for guests.
- Add information about cleaning procedures on hotel website amenity pages describing fitness facilities and on booking engines to reassure potential guests.
Hoteliers are also looking at other innovative solutions for offering guests fitness amenities. Post-pandemic, many travelers will prefer in-room hotel fitness options to eliminate worry about being around others in a communal work out facility during their stay. Hotels can cater to this preference by offering in-room fitness experiences such as on-demand virtual guided workouts, wall-mounted training equipment and even the latest green innovations in cycle bikes and treadmills that produce electricity while guests work up a sweat. Other hotel strategies for offering in-room fitness include allowing fitness equipment to be ordered in the same way a guest would order room service and creating a new room category that combines the regular amenities of a guest room with a mini-gym for travelers who want to keep up their fitness routines easily and conveniently.
Hoteliers recognize that providing peace of mind for guests in all areas of their hotel experience is a top priority. A recent Deloitte Hospitality Sentiment Survey (COVID-19): Reopening and Arrival at the New Normal found that 96 percent of respondents ranked new health and safety measures as the number one strategy for building trust with future guests.
Building this trust will require a laser focus on health and safety in operational procedures and cleaning and sanitizing protocols, as well as communicating with transparency and developing innovative options all geared to give guests peace of mind from the check-in counter to the gym and everywhere in between.
About the Author:
Ruben Mejia, Executive Vice President for SportsArt Americas, has five years of experience in the fitness industry, previously holding the title of Chief Technology Officer at SportsArt. Prior to his work at the company, Mejia held leadership roles within the technology and ecommerce spaces. In 2000, after serving four years of active duty in the Army, Mejia began working in the corporate IT and Telecommunications fields for the Department of Defense, launching his career and interest in the technology industry.
SportsArt is the leader in sustainable gym equipment that is revolutionizing the way people stay fit with its ECO-POWR line. With more than 38 years of innovative design and manufacturing experience, SportsArt consistently seeks to advance industry standards, positioning itself as one of the most creative manufacturers in quality fitness, medical and residential equipment. SportsArt is one of the largest single brand manufacturers in the world and is sold in over 70 countries worldwide. With over 500,000 square feet of state-of-the art manufacturing space, SportsArt designs, manufactures and tests all equipment.