What to Know Before Reopening Your Fitness Center

NATIONAL REPORT—The hotel fitness center has become an important part of a traveler’s stay. Guests want to keep their health routine up while they are on the road.

Unfortunately, when any list of places where there is a high risk for the spread of COVID-19 is presented, fitness centers are right near the top. Therefore, hotel fitness center managers must be very careful when they open their locations for guests again.

“As travel begins to increase, hotels will see more guests and fitness centers fill up,” said Ruben Mejia, EVP, SportsArt. “Guests will expect that hotels are taking extra precautions in rooms and communal areas such as fitness centers and pools. Hotels should adapt changes to their gyms such as limiting capacity, spacing equipment at least six ft. apart and implementing staff temperature checks.”

SportsArt has created a checklist with suggested guidelines to follow.

“Fitness centers should have the appropriate hand sanitizer and equipment cleaning solution accessible and always fully stocked,” said Mejia. “Hotels should encourage vigilance in terms of cleaning their building, especially fitness centers. Fitness centers should continue to review their local and state guidelines for their specific area’s updates.”

It is important for staff to be fully trained for the new normal. “Fitness operators should familiarize and educate their staff for signs of illness,” he said. “Staff should be provided with personal protective gear like face masks and gloves to ensure their safety.”

Like so many aspects of COVID-19 protocols, communication is key. “It is also important to communicate steps the hotel is taking to make sure the fitness area is clean and safe for guests to use,” he said. “Without communicating changes, it will be difficult for guests to trust in the fact that the fitness facility is clean and be confident of their safety. Providing a poster with cleaning schedules or having a sign at check-in as well as in rooms explaining the cleaning schedule and changes are simple and cost-effective ways to start the conversation.”

While in the short term, areas like saunas and steam rooms should remain closed because of spacing issues, the pandemic may lead to more permanent changes when it comes to the guest workout. “Hotels may begin to see fitness equipment in individual rooms so that guests can work out during their stay and not have to worry about being around others in a communal work out facility,” said Mejia. “As this trend rises, cleaning schedules will need to be developed for equipment in individual rooms as well as fitness centers.”