Five Smart Ways Gyms are Adapting in the Coronavirus Era
Right now, staying healthy is everything. However, public health is more than pandemic safety. With lockdowns and social distancing, other health concerns are also pressing. Mental health struggles are rising, and other health-related consequences are becoming known. Unfortunately, gyms and fitness clubs have had trouble staying open. Early in the pandemic, these locations were considered high risk, and many were forced to close their doors. However, the demand for fitness facilities has necessitated some accommodations. The good news is that technology has made it possible for many gyms to reopen safely.
For gym owners, making the right upgrades is critical. Keep reading to find out about the best technology investments to make your gym a safer workout space during the pandemic and beyond.
Go Touchless with Digital Lockers
Throughout the pandemic, people have been encouraged to reduce their contact with others, and this has forced businesses to adapt. In a fitness center, it is very difficult for visitors to come without needing to leave their personal belongings in a safe location. Although convenient, the locker room has become a source of concern during the pandemic due to the many shared surfaces and potential for spreading germs, especially after a sweaty workout.
One way to combat this problem is with touchless lockers. Touchless lockers are designed with digital technology to reduce the need to carry keys or use keypads. Keys are notorious for picking up germs as people carry them around constantly. By eliminating key usage, digital lockers are far more sanitary overall. Plus, they are generally easier to use. They are less cumbersome to open, and they are more convenient for gym patrons.
Gyms should look carefully at these technological advancements in order to see which ones can help them stay open during these unprecedented times.
While there are a variety of digital locker systems on the market, the one we’re most excited about is the latest digital lock by Ojmar. Ojmar makes all sorts of locks, but its newest touchless model is particularly relevant for the times. Unlike other touchless locks on the market, the OCS®SMART can be operated via smart App on a phone or tablet with advanced Bluetooth technology. There are no keys, no cards and no buttons or knobs. The lock features a waterproof, easy-clean touchpad as a second means of operation for cases when gym patrons wish to store their smartphone inside the locker. By contrast, most keypad locks on the market have mechanical buttons or dials with hard-to-clean crevices and ridges, which can harbor dirt and bacteria. Gym owners can also streamline locker management since they will have centralized access to each locker on the system. Audit trail tracking, automatic locker opening and setting locker rental duration are among the advanced management capabilities that make this lock a hit with fitness facilities. The OCS®SMART makes our list of top innovations for its hygienic features, versatility of operation, easy management through user-friendly smart Apps, and simple, cable-free installation. Clearly, going touchless with the lockers will keep people safer while also making gym operations smoother.
Focus on Ventilation with Air Circulation Systems
After more than a year of pandemic life, the consensus on transmission is clear. The coronavirus is spread primarily through aerosols. These small droplets are emitted into the air, and they can float around from one person to the next. Therefore, when someone coughs or sneezes, COVID-19 particles are easily spread. More tellingly, COVID-19 aerosols are also created when people speak or breathe. Given that gyms are a place to workout, it is safe to say that people breathe heavily in gyms. With this mindset, the risk of aerosols from an infected person is high. This is why gyms should focus on smart ventilation technology.In fact, there is plenty of evidence that air quality in the gym is a constant struggle even during normal times. Gyms with insufficient ventilation will grapple with moisture buildup and high carbon dioxide levels. This can cause headaches or nausea in gym patrons, which is counterproductive in an environment designed to promote activity and health.
Experts suggest venting out the air from inside the building and pumping in fresh air from the outside. For the best results, gyms should look at ventilation systems that are demand-controlled. These systems can monitor carbon dioxide levels and kick in as necessary. Moreover, usage will vary depending on how many people are in the building. This can minimize energy expenditures. One company on the leading front of this technology in the United Kingdom is Vent Axia. Vent Axia carries a T-Series ventilation line, which includes a number of ACM inline fans that are perfect for increased ventilation during the pandemic. The T-Series has been the leading ventilation system for commercial buildings for the past 30 years, and its performance is so good that it remains a top contender for coronavirus-related upgrades.
Improve Air Quality with Filtration
Ventilation is a primary way to fight aerosols. However, it is not the only route gyms can take. In some cases, improved ventilation may not be sufficient to properly combat the full risk of coronavirus aerosols. This has led some smart gym owners to explore air filtration technology.
Air filtration is the perfect complement to advanced ventilation systems. While ventilation cycles the air more effectively, replacing interior air with fresh, exterior sources, filtration targets any particles that are not eliminated during this process. With filtration, all air is pushed through advanced filters. These filters are designed to catch small air particles. With the right filtration system, this can even include coronavirus aerosols.
To find a product that can tackle this tall task, look at LakeAir. LakeAir makes commercial air purifiers that are used in everything from bars to warehouses. The key with LakeAir products is that they rely on advanced HEPA filters. A HEPA filter will catch small, nano-sized particles. To make things even safer, LakeAir also uses electrostatic filters. This removes dust, smoke and other indoor pollutants. If you opt for a top-end UVGI filter, then expect an even higher level of protection. These filters can actually deactivate microbial DNA. In other words, they can neutralize disease-causing particles with impressive efficiency. These units come with a long warranty, and they are effective in spaces that are 50 feet by 50 feet. To increase range and efficiency, multiple units can be installed on the ceiling.
Invest in Sanitation Measures
Gym surfaces are inevitably going to be shared frequently. Although many gyms have a process of wiping down equipment periodically, such measures are likely to be insufficient during the pandemic. To ramp up sanitization efforts, technology can provide some targeted solutions that are quite interesting.In particular, UV light technology has been shown to effectively eliminate germs and pathogens. It has the added advantage of sanitizing without water, soap or cleaners. This makes it a less messy approach, which can be ideal with fitness equipment. While some UV light technology is made in handheld applications for phones or personal electronics, there are also robots available with a wider range. These robots can sanitize more surface area at once. Plus, many robots can move independently and create a cleaning routine. In this manner, it is possible to program a UV robot to go around to the different equipment on a planned schedule. This will provide consistent cleaning efforts that limit the spread of germs.
This sounds futuristic, but it is a technology that is already available. Just look at UVD Robots. UVD Robots are most commonly used in hospitals. This means their sanitizing abilities are documented and proven. During a cleaning cycle, these robots can sanitize a surface completely in 10 minutes. This provides thorough and effective results that will benefit your gym on every level.
Minimize Human Contact
Ultimately, one of the most effective tools in the pandemic is still distancing. In order to keep a fitness center operational during the pandemic, it is necessary to reduce human touchpoints dramatically. Some measures are simple. Capacity should be reduced to limit the number of patrons at once. Machines should be spread out to allow for more space between patrons.
There are other innovative ideas that might be applicable. Some fitness centers have started offering online classes. These classes can be taken remotely while offering the energy and guidance of a skilled trainer. In order to teach remotely, there are some small technology investments needed. Remote classes can easily be taught via a system like Zoom, which even offers business accounts to accommodate larger groups and longer sessions. It may also be necessary to invest in a USB camera, USB speakers and a microphone or headset to ensure that the instructor can interact properly with patrons.
Other ways to reduce human contact include touchless technology for bathrooms and check-in. Computer scanners can allow patrons to sign in and out without human interaction. Bathrooms can be upgraded with touchless devices. Kohler flushometers can be installed on toilets. With advanced Tripoint technology, these flushometers can sense when it is time to flush without any human touch. Touchless sinks, soap dispensers and paper towel dispensers are also smart investments.
The Last Word
People need to stay healthy during the pandemic. Physical activity must be balanced with public health concerns. Fitness centers can play their part by making the necessary accommodations. This will allow patrons to stay active without taking unnecessary risks. Gyms should look carefully at these technological advancements in order to see which ones can help them stay open during these unprecedented times.