In 2014, 54 million health enthusiasts belonged to 35,000 fitness clubs and gyms in the United States.  The last incident they want to occur is to “catch something” at the gym. To ensure this doesn’t happen, the best gyms keep their current members happy and healthy and maintain that reputation for visitors and prospective members—and for good reason. Market research firm IBIS World puts the fitness club industry at $30 billion , so keeping patrons happy makes sense. Moreover, competition in the industry is high, and profits are being squeezed by low priced gyms plus the availability of online self-training content and fitness trackers.  Gym and health club management cannot ignore the need for cleanliness if they want to survive.
Keeping fitness clubs and gyms clean and healthy
A 2012 survey showed that 88 percent of adults wouldn’t exercise in a gym or athletic facility if they found it to have cleanliness issues.  The challenge is to maintain the highest level of cleanliness while controlling costs.
The job of a gym’s management team is to protect people from themselves. People have different habits and widely varied definitions of clean. Every surface in the gym—machines, weights, benches, bathrooms’ fixtures and floors—collects germs. Even the front desk. The priorities of “clean” in a fitness center include:
- Hand hygiene. Hand hygiene is your first line of defense against the spread of harmful pathogens. Gym owners can help keep members safe by offering hand sanitizer dispensers throughout the gym and work out areas.
- Infection control. The gym’s patrons, employees and/or cleaning crew are tasked with fighting the spread of infection. In the gym, the choices are spray bottles or pre-moistened wipes. Spray bottles are less expensive. They minimize waste while providing on-demand cleaning and disinfection. But because convenience drives behavior, pre-treated wipes might be a better choice in the workout areas.
- Odor control. The entire fitness center must have a non-offensive odor to make it inviting to patrons and prospects alike. Odor eliminating sprays help neutralize and control offensive odors in high traffic areas like the main lobby and locker rooms.
- Restroom/locker room. A dirty restroom/locker room can break a membership. Clean restrooms and showers, pools and lockers require special attention.
Gym culture impacts gym health
Gym culture is another factor that affects the cleanliness of a fitness establishment. In this regard, it is management’s responsibility to create an environment that supports the health and wellness of the clientele. Management’s commitment, in turn, spreads to the custodial and maintenance crew. As a result, the equipment and all areas of the gym will meet the cleaning standards with a proper cleaning schedule and checklist.
Checklists, chemicals, and clean checks
Proper cleaning keeps odors in check and diseases at bay and is facilitated with checklists and training. Deep, weekly cleaning is done at the ‘down time’ for the gym, and clean is enforced with random, unannounced spot checks.
Spartan Chemical makes a full line of products to keep fitness clubs and gyms a healthy environment. The company offers training materials to show employees how to clean properly; including DVDs, online videos and checklists. While fitness clubs and gyms do not have to be hospital clean, they do need to be healthy and safe. Healthy gyms are well attended, grow nicely, and are profitable. In an increasingly competitive industry, every little bit helps.
About the Author:
Jahmal Green is a chemist at Spartan Chemical, and a Cross Fit Trainer and Health and Fitness Wellness coach in his spare time.