For many who of you have spent the last three months navigating the exciting new world of virtual home workouts, the ability to return to the gym is an exciting prospect. Planet Fitness — the popular low-cost fitness club which operates locations in British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Ontario, and Manitoba — has reopened in provinces mandated safe to do so, however not without a laundry list of safety measures in place.
While many have questioned the practicality of reopening gyms, deeming them to be potentially the least sanitary places we frequent and a possible threat for spreading COVID-19, the Fitness Industry Council of Canada released guidelines for fitness facilities across Canada to follow as provinces began reopening businesses, and so far it seems to be working.
PLANET FITNESS SAW AN INCREASE IN MEMBERSHIP SIGNUPS
In B.C., Planet Fitness reopened as early as June 1 and in North Vancouver it actually saw a record-breaking increase in membership signups post-COVID. In Ontario, residents are still waiting on the provincial government to give the go-ahead for gyms to reopen.
Surveys conducted out of the UK and Europe in May indicated about 60 percent of gym members willing to return within the first month of reopening, with another 30 percent returning in the second month, and seven percent in the third month. Three percent were undecided at that time.
In general it would appear that Canadians are divided in terms of those who are comfortable returning to regularly scheduled life and those who are still apprehensive that it may be too soon. This discordance is inevitable, however the economy can’t and won’t wait for everyone to get on board, and there are many indicators to show that gyms might just be one of the most sanitary places you could find yourself post COVID-19.
PLANET FITNESS HAVE TAKEN EXTENSIVE SAFETY PRECAUTIONS
Planet Fitness recently spoke to Retail Insider about the array of safety measures it is taking to ensure its members can use its facilities once again. Although the precautions have altered the regular gym experience slightly, Planet Fitness is dedicated to ensuring that all members can still enjoy the perks of being a part of the “Judgement Free Zone” while simultaneously securing their health and safety.
Within the Planet Fitness locations currently in operation the following procedures have been implemented:
Planet Fitness staff have been extensively trained on COVID-19-specific cleaning protocols. Multiple times throughout the day, staff take prolonged periods of time to sanitize high-touch areas and workout equipment, using disinfectant on the EPA list effective against COVID-19.
In order to ensure a distance of six feet, certain pieces of cardio equipment will be temporality marked unavailable. The out-of-use equipment will not be removed from the space, but rather will remain in place to act as further markers of “Social Fitnessing”, as Planet Fitness likes to call it.
Known for its motivational phrases scattered across its gyms, Planet Fitness have implemented sayings such as “being cleansiderate” and “clean thumbs club” to ensure members are also doing their part to create a healthy workout environment. Encouraging members to sanitize equipment before and after use is important. This, in addition to the staffs’ thorough sanitization procedures, means that Planet Fitness locations should be cleaner than most public spaces visited on the regular.
A touchless check-in app has been implemented to limit any unnecessary human contact. It involves downloading the Planet Fitness app in advance and scanning it upon arrival at the Planet Fitness location.
Increased sanitization stations will be available throughout the gym floor, indicated by yellow flags.
PE@PF — a Planet Fitness perk that provides members with certified trainers to provide instruction if required and who also facilitate small group training sessions — will be temporarily modified to solely focus on individual “Design Your Own Program” (DYOP) sessions.
Before each shift, Planet Fitness team members will each receive temperature checks.
All Planet Fitness locations will be run at limited capacity, however due to the sizeable nature of most locations, it hasn’t been necessary for members to book or reserve time slots.
The fitness club launched the “United We Move” work-ins in the wake of COVID-19 and continue to provide its members with over 500 workout programs available through the Planet Fitness app.
Canadian-based GoodLife Fitness is quickly reopening locations across the country — with the exception of Ontario locations — and is allocating time slots for its members. So far it appears to be working well, with over 200,000 requests for visits since opening it’s first location in Prince Edward Island on June 15.
The higher-end gyms such as Orange Theory are also back in business in certain provinces, operating at reduced capacity and cutting the length of classes by 15 minutes to allocate time for cleaning. Orange Theory, being a HIIT workout that operates on a rotational structure with groups of people continuouslly moving from station to station, is taking its time in reopening across the country, making sure to get it right for the safety of its members.
Isaac Bogoch, an infectious disease specialist at Toronto General Hospital, previously stated that he believed gyms will be some of the toughest facilities to reopen while COVID-19 is still a threat, provinces like Alberta seem to be proving that theory wrong, since bumping the reopening of indoor recreation and fitness centres forward from Stage 3 to Stage 2 at the beginning of June.