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A Guide to Preparing Your Staff for Reopening

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Reopening your gym or fitness studio needs a multi-pronged approach. With so many different elements to consider, it’s important to implement changes to protect your staff members. You need to make sure your staff are protected and prepared to take on the challenge of reopening to the public. 

Getting your staff completely ready to go back to work and manage members in a safe way will help minimize the spread of COVID-19. This won’t happen overnight. Now is the perfect time to get everything you need in place so that when you’re ready to open your doors, your staff feel ready and supported. 

Health and safety are at the forefront of everyone’s mind at the moment and your staff are no different. They want to feel fully prepared that they are going into a working environment that minimizes risk, puts their safety first, and allows them to protect your gym members. In this article, we will discuss ways in which you can prepare your staff for your grand reopening and create a positive working environment.    

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How COVID-19 has Changed the Fitness Industry 

With the coronavirus pandemic, many businesses had to close their doors including fitness studios and gyms. Although the home fitness revolution was well underway, the fitness industry has seen a massive transformation in a short period of time. Many fitness businesses are reopening with both a physical and online offering. For those of you that kicked into gear and adapted quickly, you might be looking at running a new digital platform alongside your studio location. 

Many gyms are now using a hybrid business model with both digital and physical offerings. It’s important to think about how you will continue to work now that your gym is open. If you moved instructors from fitness classes to digital workouts, how will staff separate their time moving forward? Will you need to employ new staff members to cover all areas of the business? 

Coronavirus has affected the fitness industry majorly, but now is the time to prepare your facility and your staff to adjust to a new normal. By fully preparing your staff, you give them the best opportunity to support gym members’ wellbeing and hit their goals. 

The Gym Owners Business Podcast has an excellent episode on how to minimize confusion and company politics to build high performing teams. Speaker and business coach, Katie Jones, shares her insight on how to prepare your team for success. 

4 Things to Consider to Safely Reopen Your Gym 

Before you can provide training and update your staff on new procedures, you need to carry out a risk assessment. By identifying what changes you need to make, you can communicate the new guidelines with your staff effectively. Here are four things to think about to safely reopen your gym. 

Updated Health and Safety Regulations 

The coronavirus still poses a serious risk. While some fitness businesses have already opened, others are in the planning phase. With social distancing, increased handwashing, regular disinfection, you will need to update your health and safety regulations accordingly. For example, brands like Equinox and SoulCycle will require members to have temperature checks before entry. Your new health and safety regulations will become the new normal in the fitness industry for the foreseeable future. 

Building Maintenance 

If your gym location has been closed for a few months, it’s a good idea to check everything is in order. If you had any serious issues, hopefully, you were able to deal with them during the lockdown. Now, is the time for any last-minute fixes to make sure everything is in tip-top condition. Replace any lightbulbs, change HVAC filters, and double-check your water, power, and air treatment. Make sure to check all your gym equipment is running smoothly. There should be no damage except for standard wear and tear, and all safety instructions should be displayed clearly. 

New Hygiene and Cleaning Procedures 

One of the major changes to your gym will be new cleaning and hygiene procedures. All surfaces and equipment will need to be cleaned and disinfected regularly. You will need to carry out extra cleaning in line with government guidelines. Hand sanitizer stations will need to be located throughout your facilities and you will need to implement personal hygiene protocols as well as equipment hygiene procedures. To get you ready to open, we’ve pulled together a health and safety checklist on everything you need to know.       

Stock Up on Essential Equipment 

Finally, before you reopen, make sure to stock up on essential equipment. This will include hand sanitizer, personal protective equipment (PPE), face masks if needed, and any extra cleaning equipment. By stocking up on cleaning supplies and protective equipment, you will have everything you need to reopen safely and support your staff. Be sure to use the correct cleaning and disinfecting products where needed.  

8 Ways to Prepare Your Staff for Your Gym Reopening 

Before reopening your gym, business owners need to ensure the safety of the workplace for staff members. By reassuring and preparing staff, they will be ready to welcome customers back to the gym safely.  

1. Employee Health and Wellbeing Check 

When preparing your staff for your reopening, the first thing to do is check on their health and wellbeing. Are they confident that they feel healthy enough to return to work? Perhaps they are living with someone who is shielding. If that’s the case, have you considered what positions can be performed from home such as marketing, social media management, and content creation? 

Gather insight into your employees by sending out surveys and questionnaires to check in on them. Consider asking the following questions:

The Customer
Engagement Playbook
for Your Fitness

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  • How would you rate your mental wellbeing?
  • Do you feel safe returning to work?
  • Are you and your household healthy?
  • Do you feel supported by your manager?
  • If working from home, do you have the tools you need to perform your job effectively?
  • What do you need to return to work? 

2. Re-Engage Your Staff 

Keeping your employees engaged and satisfied is key to productivity. If you’re staff are unhappy and unengaged, they will not have a smile on their face. They won’t perform to the best of their ability. It’s your responsibility to engage employees. It’s important to keep members updated and communicate regularly with them. If you shut your doors and haven’t given employees ongoing clear updates, you will need to re-engage your staff. In a time of uncertainty, many people already feel uneasy at the lack of job security. Lead your staff and offer reassurance. 

Here are some ideas to re-engage your staff:

  • Listen to and value individual contributions 
  • Empower don’t control your staff 
  • Give employees the chance to voice their opinions 
  • Offer support in difficult situations 
  • Manage employee wellbeing 

3. Health and Safety Training 

Once you carry out your COVID-19 risk assessment, you will have a ton of new guidelines to share with your team. Package these guidelines into an easy-to-digest training guide. Your staff should be able to read up on your new procedures. Share the resource with your team before providing training on all aspects. 

From new entry procedures and temperature checks to disinfecting and cleaning all equipment between use. Some of the biggest changes for gyms and studios will be how often they clean their facilities. The cleaning list will be much larger than your team is used to. If they need to use gloves with certain disinfectants or need to be wearing face masks on reception, you will need to break this down in the training guide. 

4. New COVID-19 Procedure Updates 

These updates will cover a couple of different areas. The first is what is the protocol if a member of staff gets coronavirus symptoms? If it turns out to be a confirmed coronavirus incident, employees will need to work from home if possible or be off sick. Businesses should consider how they will deep clean the space and make sure they have the right supplies on hand if the situation arises. 

The second area to think about is what you will do in the case of a second peak. The likelihood of a second peak is still in speculation, but no one knows for sure what will happen. You should be in a much stronger position if a second peak were to hit. Many fitness brands launched digital platforms during lockdown. It’s important to think about how you and your staff will operate if this were to happen again. 

5. Set Hygiene Expectations 

Be clear in your expectations. The majority of hygiene practices will cover both your staff and your members. Things like regular handwashing and not touching your face will need to be implemented. It’s great to lead your gym members by example. You will be encouraging your gym members to do all these things. So, it’s essential that your staff are following the protocol and leading your members in the best way possible. 

Depending on the size of your business, you may have cleaners come in or your staff may take on cleaning duties. Whichever option you choose, you may need to increase payroll hours to allow for extra cleaning. This depends on your situation. If you have a lot of gym equipment and shared high-touch surfaces, you will need to up your cleaning. 

The Proskauer Brief Podcast explores the topic of coronavirus in the workplace further. Partners Harris Mufson and Guy Brenner discuss the coronavirus and what employees should be thinking about. The pair delve into addressing employees’ concerns and helping to prevent an outbreak. 

6. Gym Regulations Update and Training 

On top of new health and safety procedures, you will also need to train staff on any gym regulation updates. This could include how many people will be allowed inside the gym at any one time and how this will be implemented. It’s a good idea to train your staff to manage member safety better. How will your employees interact with members and inform members of new policies? 

It’s important that your staff have all the tools and resources available to them to perform their job effectively. Your employees will have to manage members’ safety in a new way that they are not accustomed to. Member interaction and engagement are key to ensuring your members follow new guidelines. Your staff will need to know how to handle new situations that may arise. 

7. Staff COVID-19 Communication and Updates 

Your staff communication strategy is vital to retaining employee morale and loyalty even through difficult times. Your employees need to hear from you regularly. Internal communication channels will give your staff the reassurance they need. To keep your business running smoothly, make sure your staff knows exactly what is happening. 

With Microsoft Teams, Zoom, Skype, and Slack, there are a ton of communication platforms you can use to update your team. Switching up your type of communication can be useful in getting a true understanding of employee morale. Try mixing it up with telephone calls, video calls, and emails where needed. 

8. Keep Your Staff Involved 

Involve your staff in your thinking. It’s a good idea to get a general consensus for things you’re considering doing. This could be done through a simple survey or questionnaire. As you finalize your reopening strategy, check-in to make sure staff are comfortable and confident with your new plans. Your employees are an integral part of a swift reopening procedure. They are extremely valuable.  

In Summary 

While some gyms are already welcoming back members, others are finalizing their reopening strategy. As you implement new procedures and guidelines to minimize the risk of COVID-19 to help stop another outbreak, you need to make sure your staff are fully prepared. They will be taking on new challenges and will need your training and support to do their jobs effectively. 

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Owner at Carpe Diem BJJ

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