Equinox, SoulCycle, Life Time, Others Release Reopening Protocols

Life Time is one of several club companies that is making members aware of new protocols for reopening. (Photo courtesy Life Time.)

[Editors’ Note: This article will be updated with additional protocols from other health clubs as more details are received. 9:30 a.m. Eastern, May 17: This article has been updated with protocols from Gold's Gym International as well as Retro Fitness. ]

Increased cleaning and disinfecting measures, contactless check-ins and limited capacity within clubs are just some of the steps that health clubs are implementing as part of their reopening protocols. Club Industry has reviewed some of the protocols in place for some brands that have made their protocols available and has shared parts of those in this article, including protocols from Equinox, SoulCycle, Life Time and others.

Protocols specific to cleaning and disinfecting can be found in two Club Industry Town Halls on this topic. “Allaying Member Fears With Good Cleaning Protocols After Reopening, Part One” features panelists from East Bank Club, Newtown Athletic Club, Crunch and Workout Anytime. It can be viewed on-demand here. The second part of the town hall features panelists from Chelsea Piers, Honor Yoga, Worx and supplier GymValet. That town hall can be viewed on-demand here.

Equinox

Equinox, New York, shared new protocols on its website that it is branding as the Equinox Standard. The protocols, which were developed by a task force that included a team of medical and infectious disease experts, address cleaning and sanitation, health checks, club capacity levels, personal protective equipment, check-in procedures, physical distancing, group exercise, front desk, cardio and strength areas, locker rooms, and retail and café spaces.

Some of the protocols include:

  • Requiring staff and members to complete in the company’s app prior to each visit a health declaration stating they are not experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 and have not been near someone who has experienced COVID-19 symptoms
  • Taking the temperature of staff and members using a touchless thermometer prior to entry into club
  • Requiring staff to wear company-provided face masks and gloves
  • Installing Plexiglass barriers at the front desk
  • Requiring members to wear face masks while in the club except during vigorous exercise
  • Recommending that members wear gloves
  • Checking in using the Equinox app
  • Keeping closed showers, steam rooms, saunas, spa areas, pools, the kids club, coat check, basketball courts and team sport areas
  • Requiring members to use the company app to book their visit, including group fitness classes
  • Adding deep cleaning and disinfecting process three times throughout the day and another one after the club closes for the night
  • Using electrostatic handheld and back-pack sprayers to disinfect the clubs, including group exercise studios and equipment between classes
  • Changing group exercise class schedules to give 30 minutes for cleaning between classes  
  • Changing operating hours to allow for more overnight cleaning
  • Disinfecting lockers using electrostatic sprayers after each use
  • Requesting that members use hand sanitizer available in touchless stations, use disinfectant wipes on equipment before and after use, and disinfect their phones using touchless UV-C sanitizers

Life Time

Life Time, Chanhassen, Minnesota, shared its new protocols on its website, addressing cleaning, social distancing and other safety measures for staff and members.

Those protocols, which are encompassed in a 400-page manual, according to an Insider article, include:

  • Decreasing club hours to allow for overnight deep cleaning
  • Training of staff on cleaning protocols
  • Offering self-cleaning stations with disinfecting spray for use on equipment and hand sanitizers
  • Spacing of equipment to conform to social distancing requirements
  • Requiring reservations for group fitness classes
  • Placing floor indicators six feet apart in group fitness classes for each reservation and placing equipment in each space by staff prior to the beginning of each class
  • Adjusting group fitness class schedule to allow for 30 minutes of cleaning between classes
  • Requiring reservations for kids clubs and moving some kids club activities to other spaces to allow for  more social distancing
  • Allowing the use of every other shower and restricting the use of whirlpools, steam rooms and saunas
  • Limiting capacity on the fitness floor with equipment spaced and marked based on social distancing guidelines

SoulCycle

SoulCycle, New York, also shared its new protocols on its website, branding them as the SoulCycle Standard.

Protocols include:

  • Using disinfectants in common areas before and after check-ins as well as on bikes, weights and high-touch surfaces (such as doorknobs, handles, rails, lockers, sinks, benches) after each class.
  • Rotating rented shoes so they are disinfected between uses and not worn two classes in a row
  • Requiring staff to wear gloves and encouraging them to wear masks
  • Using an electrostatic sprayer in each studio
  • Checking staff temperatures before each shift, and where mandated, checking rider temperatures before they enter the studio
  • Removing high-touch amenities (gum, razors, phone chargers)
  • Preventing staff from moving outside the front desk space other than to do cleaning
  • Requesting riders keep to the right when entering and exiting
  • Installing floor markers to indicate safe distancing in the lobby, locker rooms and bathrooms plus requesting riders wait outside in their car until just before class begins
  • Limiting use of studio water fountains and encouraging riders to bring their own water bottles
  • Assigning bikes and ensuring spacing in between bikes with empty bikes
  • Closing of showers

Gold’s Gym International

Gold’s Gym International’s company-owned locations are opening in three phases. In all phases, the following protocols are set:

  • Require members to review and sign a digital update to the member code of conduct in which they agree to abide by the new cleaning standards and maintain six-foot physical distancing requirements
  • Require staff to review and sign a new team member handbook that outlines precautions to take before returning for their first shift of regular duties
  • Abide by any CDC, state and local government guidelines for conducting temperature checks of members and staff
  • Encourage members to wear masks and require the use of masks if CDC, state or local governments require it
  • Require staff to wear masks and gloves

In phase one, Gold’s Gym International’s company-owned locations also will:

  • Modify hours of operation to allow for additional cleaning and safety measures.
  • Implement a daily intermission from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m. to reset all cleaning supplies and do a deep clean. Members at the facility at that time can remain but no new members will be allowed in during that time.
  • Adhere to state guidelines on member capacity for distancing purposes with a requested 90-minute maximum workout time
  • No of out-of-town guests allowed
  • Use of a touchless scan-in process
  • Require the use of credit cards instead of cash for retail purchases
  • Zone cleaning of gym, including high touch areas, door handles and water fountains
  • Require members to wipe down equipment after each use with medical grade cleaners provided
  • Add refill stations for wipes, sprays and bottles
  • Add disinfecting methods, such as fogging machines and electrostatic sprayers
  • No use of water fountains
  • Stagger cardio and strength machines to be at least six feet apart
  • Monitor locker rooms to ensure adherence to capacity limit guidelines
  • No kid’s club, group and studio classes, one-to-one personal training, basketball and racquetball courts, saunas, steam and spa rooms, smoothie bars and pools

Gold’s Gym International plans to begin phase two in two to four weeks after initial phase one opening. In phase two, the following protocols are planned:

  • Same modified hours of operation and same daily cleaning intermission as in phase one
  • Capacity may be modified
  • Possible reopening of group exercise and studio classes at 50 percent capacity with space markers put into place with attendance caps
  • Disinfect all group exercise and studio rooms after each class by members and staff
  • Possible modification of check-in process
  • Install Step N’ Pull foot pedals on gym’s front doors to allow for touchless entry
  • Continue phase one cleaning guidelines with some possible modifications
  • Reopen pools with the following restrictions: lane swimming only and only one member per lane
  • Limit two members per Jacuzzis
  • Keep basketball and racquetball courts, saunas, steam and spa rooms, smoothie bars closed

The target date to move to phase three is within 90 days of phase one. In phase three, the company anticipates resuming full business operations.

Newtown Athletic Club

Newtown Athletic Club, Newtown, Pennsylvania, is in a part of Pennsylvania that may not open until mid-summer, but the company has already developed its protocols with guidance from the CDC, WHO and the local government. It also had its guidelines reviewed by its local wellness partner, Capital Health, and the U.S. Surgeon General.

Its playbook focuses on three areas: increased sanitation, prioritization of personal space, and behavioral signage and enforcement. The luxury club will have compliance ambassadors within the club to clean and disinfect throughout the day as well as to enforce member cleaning and to answer member questions.

The protocols include the following:

  • Limiting the number of members in the building based on federal, state and local government guidelines
  • Requiring members reserve space in group exercise classes that will help to adhere to the new limited class size
  • Requiring reservations for kids club and kids classes to help limit the number of children in the classes
  • Installing Plexiglass screen at the service desks
  • Requiring staff to wear masks
  • Taking the temperature of employees each day
  • Requiring members to sanitize and wipe equipment after each use
  • Requiring members to maintain six-foot distances and providing markers where lines form (such as the front desk area) to help determine the spacing
  • Requiring staff to disinfect high-traffic areas and equipment every three hours
  • Using an electrostatic sprayer twice each day to disinfect all equipment, studios and surfaces
  • Using a My Shield application that disinfects for 28 days
  • Adding more sanitation stations with wipes, trash cans and hand sanitizers
  • Adding door foot-pulls to allow people to open doors with their feet and “wave” open button on automatic doors and the entrance/exit doors
  • Allowing use of every other locker in the locker rooms
  • Allowing use of every other shower

MUV Fitness

With more than two months of stay-at-home orders around the country, people have a lot of pent-up energy and are eager to return to a more familiar way of living, according to Joel Tallman, CEO and president at MUV Brands LLC. MUV Fitness has been working on protocols for when its clubs reopen so it can be responsible in doing so.   

“Our focus has been on educating the leadership team so we can best train our team members and members on how to stay safe and healthy,” he shared with Club Industry in an email. “From learning the correct way to wear and remove a face mask to how to properly wash hands, we’ve been using this time to update our protocols and prepare communication materials.”

State and local guidelines on reopening in Washington and Oregon have not been shared yet, but MUV Fitness has a series of steps it plans to take when it’s deemed appropriate to open in those states. Those protocols include:

  • New health desk where members will go to have their temperatures taken.
  • Implementation of sneeze guards at the health desk, check-in desk and sales desks.
  • Frequent cleanings – MUV Fitness has previously done Team Cleanings three times a day, moving forward these will be conducted at least six times a day. High traffic areas will be roped off in order to allow for a thorough cleaning.
  • Additional signs encouraging members to wipe down equipment before and after use and to keep a polite distance from others.
  • More hand sanitizers stations placed throughout the space.
  • Group classes will be suspended in the beginning and will be gradually phased back in. When classes resume, they will not operate at full capacity.

Mountainside Fitness

Mountainside Fitness, Scottsdale, Arizona, will reopen all of its 18 clubs on May 18. Guests will not be charged any memberships dues until June 1st. 

The new changes and guidelines implemented include the following:

  • Placing sanitizing stations throughout the club
  • Continuously disinfecting frequently touched areas throughout the day with CDC-approved disinfectant
  • Spacing cardio equipment by local guidelines, which means every other machine will be turned off
  • Increasing towel cleaning temperatures to 150 degrees.
  • Decreasing the capacity in group fitness classes and requiring pre-booking 12 hours prior to class.
  • Adding more classes to the schedules to offer guests more options
  • Checking the temperatures of employees prior to each shift
  • Requiring staff to wash their hands every hour
  • Checking the temperature of children entering childcare
  • Continuing touchless service and check-in at the front desk, childcare and the M Cafe.

Executive Health & Sports Center

Mike Benton, owner of Executive Health & Sports Center in Manchester, New Hampshire, presented a 19-page reopening plan on May 12 to the New Hampshire governor’s Re-Opening Task Force, according to the New Hampshire Business Review.

Part of this plan includes:

  • Limiting health club hours to 5 a.m. to 10 p.m.
  • Limiting capacity of people inside the club to 50 percent
  • Banning of guests and new out-of-state members
  • Asking members to allow their temperatures to be checked
  • Enforcement of social distancing of members by staff
  • Placement of equipment eight feet apart
  • Sanitization of equipment after each use
  • Placement of hand sanitizers throughout the clubs
  • Cutting group exercise participant numbers to half of capacity
  • Spacing group exercise participants to 10 feet apart
  • No contact sports allowed
  • Reopening of pools at half capacity
  • Reopening of showers and locker rooms but saunas and steam rooms closed
  • Wearing of face masks by staff members
  • Staggering of staff shifts plus installation of touchless or disinfected time clocks

Retro Fitness

Retro Fitness has created reopening protocols for its clubs and franchisees. They include:

  • Upholding all federal, state and local government guidelines and restrictions to maintain the highest level of cleanliness and safety for members and staff, to include masks and gloves to staff
  • Adhering to any standard emergency precautions in compliance with the standards established by the local government
  • Continuously monitoring the health and safety of staff and reporting any illnesses to Retro Fitness corporate. Taking immediate action by sending the employee home upon exhibiting any symptoms.
  • Reporting to the state and to Retro Fitness corporate if an employee or member has been sent home due to illness, and calling employees and members who have been sent home or have reported an illness to monitor their condition prior to being allowed back in the club
  • Using hospital-grade cleaning supplies available in adequate quantities for members and staff to use freely while in the club
  • Implementing additional processes to reduce member direct contact, such as touchless scan check-in and advance order for smoothies
  • Adhering to all social distancing guidelines through occupancy monitoring and management, equipment layout and processes, and member communications.
  • Maintaining merchandise available for purchase of protective items such as personal towels, gloves, and face masks, or supply staff and club members.
  • Ensuring that cleaning stations are accessible to members and continuously replenished throughout the entire gym
  • Providing staff with new cleaning standards training and a checklist of activities to continuously perform during their shifts
  • Assigning a staff member to walk the entire facility every hour with a checklist of cleaning requirements and returning the signed checklist after his/her shift to the general manager or franchisee
  • Requiring staff to spot check members regarding how they are feeling as they walk the club or when a member enters the facility
  • Training staff to spot unusual member or other staff member illnesses such as high levels of perspiration, coughing, sneezing, etc., and to report it immediately to the general manager or Franchisee.
  • Maintaining a daily deep clean/disinfection of entire facility after close of business with hospital grade disinfectants.

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