Gyms are perhaps one of the most difficult and challenging facilities to clean. They witness high footfall, intensive workouts and so much more. Naturally, the chances of spreading germs inside a gym are much higher. With the rise of the pandemic, gym hygiene has come under the scanner. So this month, we speak to Loren Holland, the CEO of GymNation, about how the brand ensures guest and staff safety, the cleaning schedules followed at the gym, and a lot more!
How important are cleanliness and hygiene for you?
I think even before COVID-19, cleanliness, and hygiene were important in a gym. They are the main factors consumers look for while choosing a gym. If you are a high-volume gym with nearly 2,000 people coming throughout the day, it can be a challenge to maintain hygienic gym floors. However, it’s not just the gym floors that need to be taken care of. It is also the restrooms, equipment, changing rooms, etc.
So from day 1 when we set up GymNation, we were very conscious about cleanliness and hygiene. This was one area we were not ready to compromise on. We wanted to set leading standards when it came to these two factors because the concept of cleaning and hygiene has always been of paramount importance to us, even before COVID-19. When the pandemic began, hygiene became our top priority. I believe it is our duty to maintain the safety of our members by meeting the hygiene regulations and guidelines. I think we were among the first gyms in Dubai to start a sanitization program by daily fogging all of our facilities, all of our equipment, and all the touch-points of the gym. This activity will continue throughout the COVID-19 period and after.
How do you ensure that your guests and staff are safe during these times?
First of all, we have increased the manpower of our cleaning staff. We made sure that we have sufficient cleaners onsite at all times, particularly during peak times when we have more customers and high footfall volumes. We also purchased additional equipment. Each gym has generally 2 sanitization fogging machines. Our cleaning is actually provided by third parties as well. We collaborated with Dubai Municipality for all our sanitization and fogging services. All of our chemicals and cleaning procedures are Dubai Municipality approved.
How stringent is your cleaning schedule?
Our cleaning schedule is very elaborate and detailed. Apart from increased cleaning manpower, we have also taken on additional licensed software to help manage all our cleaners. This software comes from a company in the United States, which enables all of our equipment and all of our different training zones to be scanned and checked as they are cleaned. Anything that requires attention is cleaned and rectified there and then. The cleaner then takes pictures to show the rectification work. This helps manage at a more granular level and also streamlines scheduling. In the spin studio, for instance, each spin bike will be scanned, and it will be demonstrated that it’s been cleaned.
Training programs for the cleaning staff
All our cleaning staff, as I mentioned before, are managed by a third party. So they are open to undergoing training through this third party. As soon as they come into the gym environment, they undertake their own separate training. This training covers how to operate in a gym facility. So this way, they undergo different training programs before they are actually deployed in one of our gyms.
Tell us about your infection control policies.
We’ve been thoroughly following all the guidelines set by the authorities this time. We’re using all the correct chemicals and procedures. We also have a new way of working now operationally. So we are constantly ensuring that the gym is fogged on a regular basis, ensuring that every piece of equipment is cleaned after it has been used by someone, and also ensuring that it is ready for the next person in time. I believe that having new policies and procedures for infection control is paramount. So we adhere to the guidelines set by the authorities.
How do you ensure that gym equipment remains clean all the time?
There is a two-fold approach to this. One, it is the responsibility of all the members. We have sanitization stations across all our gyms and we have placed sanitizer sprays very strategically across the gyms along with cleaning wipes. It is encouraged to clean a bench or equipment before or after you use them yourselves. We also have cleaners roaming around the gym at all times. If a member does not want to clean their equipment themselves, they can always ask the cleaners to do it for them.
After any class (and we have 20-30 people in every class), the floor is cleaned. So, this is pre-scheduled so that as soon as the class is over, the staff can do 15-30 minutes of thorough cleaning before the next class begins.
How do you ensure indoor air quality?
Our contractors and consultants conduct detailed studies to ensure that with the set of people we expect during the peak gym hours, we’ve got enough fresh air. Our facilities are designed in a way that they can host a certain number of people without compromising the quality of air. As a gym, I would say that is absolutely essential. People are training very hard and if the air quality is poor, then they might not be able to work as per their peak physical performance. And once we open the doors, it’s all about maintenance.
What checklists do you follow in doing gym cleaning?
Different checklists are followed for different areas of the gym depending on what cleaning is required for that area. For instance, restrooms will have a completely different checklist than the gym floor. What’s common is that the cleaner will scan that he has entered a particular zone and he’ll scan when he has come out of it.
Overall, what challenges did you face during the pandemic, and how did you overcome them?
I think one of the main challenges was being such a high-volume gym. Some GymNation sites have more than 10,000 members. What comes with that is very high footfall. Some of our sites used to witness around 2,000 people a day. That number has lowered now because of the COVID-19 restrictions. The challenge is to maintain the highest cleaning standard with such a high number of people. All of the above-mentioned measures have been extremely efficient in combating this challenge. The software, in particular, has improved our efficiency multifold.