These guidelines apply to not only standalone fitness facilities such as gyms and specialty studios such as yoga, kickboxing, or barre studios, but also any building that contains a fitness facility, such as hotels, residential buildings, office buildings, and any gym housed in a higher education facility.
While the news excited fitness enthusiasts, facility managers throughout the state have had to scramble to upgrade their air filtration systems, redesign their layouts to ensure enough space between machines to maintain social distancing, and retrofit any areas where six feet of distance cannot be maintained with sneeze guards and other relevant safety equipment.
For fitness facilities, this is just the beginning of an arduous process to ensure the health and safety of guests and clients during the COVID-19 pandemic. Some of the guidelines are one-off tasks, but most of what the state is asking requires ongoing procedures. But with the right tools in your belt, managing fitness center maintenance is simple and nearly stress free.
Here’s what you have to do to operate safely—and how to use Vitralogy’s SmartRounds to protect your clients and staff.
Upgrading Your Air Filtration System
Facilities must upgrade their filtration system to at least MERV-13 (a value rating from 1 to 16 that grades filtration efficiency), though MERV-14 or higher is preferred by the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE). This can be accomplished by either retrofitting your existing HVAC system to hold the MERV-13 or higher filters or installing another unit.
If for whatever reason you can’t upgrade your filtration system, you need to bring in an HVAC professional to document this and “adopt additional ventilation and mitigation protocols” developed by ASHRAE.
While installation is a one-off job, facilities do have to regularly change their filters to maintain the virus-filtering capabilities of their new systems. Further, if you’re a facility that cannot update its filtering system, you need to adopt mitigation protocols to minimize risk.
To safely and effectively track your filtration system and mitigation protocols, you need to integrate these new tasks into your maintenance rounds.
How to use SmartRounds to do this: Create filtration-related tasks on SmartRounds, and you can assign them as-needed to staff. Track who does what task, how long it takes them to do so, and any metrics that will help you measure performance, including how often preventive maintenance is performed (or skipped). You can even send push notifications to remind staff of upcoming tasks or reassign as needed. Further, you can track custom KPIs (such as clean air delivery rate or cumulate clean mass) to identify performance problems and ensure your filtration system is operating at maximum efficiency.
Shifting Your Staffing Schedule
To maintain social distancing (keeping at least six feet between people), facilities need to stagger staff schedules to ensure shifts, team meetings, and lunch breaks don’t put staff in close contact with one another. For example, depending on the size of your break room, you may only be able to allow one staff member inside at a time; similarly, if the front desk doesn’t allow for adequate distancing, you may need to cut staff to accommodate new spacing requirements.
How to use SmartRounds to do this: You can assign out pre-determined lunch breaks to keep your staff safely distanced from one another, and you can even assign post-break disinfecting tasks to make sure staff are disinfecting shared spaces before anyone else enters.
Implementing Robust Cleaning Protocols
Facilities now need to do the following:
- Provide and maintain hand hygiene stations throughout the facility, including running warm water, soap, and disposable paper towels and alcohol-based hand sanitizer stations
- Regularly clean and disinfect the fitness facility, including frequent disinfection for high-traffic areas such as door handles, entryways, and waiting room seats
- Provide cleaning and disinfecting supplies to guests for them to wipe down machinery after every use
- Have staff also clean and disinfect equipment between uses
- Clean and disinfect locker rooms and bathrooms at least every 2 hours
How to use SmartRounds to do this: To implement and track more rigorous cleaning protocols, and more importantly, make sure these new tasks are getting done, use our COVID cleaning blog to develop a rigorous cleaning and disinfecting protocol. Then assign, track, and manage cleaning tasks, and even track cleaning inventory—including the masks which you are required to supply cost-free to staff. Use our custom KPIs to track how long it takes your staff to perform each task and to pinpoint any weaknesses in your protocol before they become a problem. For example: you can assign daily and even hourly tasks to employees, and you can additionally assign ad-hoc tasks, such as disinfecting rental yoga mats when they're returned to the front desk. This is one of the best, most efficient ways to minimize the chance of exposure to COVID.
Sign-In Sheets for Contact Tracing
To meet the standards set by New York state, gyms need to provide a single sign-in sheet for members who use your facilities. This can be a paper sheet, a swipe card system, or another digital means of signing in, but you need to track the first and last name, address, and phone number of every person who enters your facility.
You must also, according to the guidance, “maintain a record of the aforementioned sign-in data for a minimum period of 28 days and make such data available to state and local health departments upon request.”
How to use SmartRounds to do this: Upload all sign-in sheet data to the SmartRounds database for easy access anywhere you carry your phone or tablet.
SmartRounds was built for customization. You can integrate your COVID rounds and staggered schedules with your regular rounds, and access contact tracing data wherever you carry your phone or tablet. You can also monitor trends and gain insight into the health of your facility with our custom KPI reports.
SmartRounds is an efficient way to ensure your fitness facility is meeting COVID-era standards and requirements and keeping your staff and patrons safe.