Updated: May 25
Okay. Your gym (or fitness center) is the pride of your life: It’s well-situated; it’s spacious, well-lit and comfortable. You have the most up-to-date equipment and well-trained, motivated instructors. Plus, you have all the amenities your customers think are necessary for a hip workout place.
And, of course, you have your most precious assets: your customers. Or, if you prefer, your clients.
Unfortunately, those “assets” can also be a liability when it comes to keeping your gym or fitness center clean and hygienic. According to a recent study by Nuffield Health, Britain’s largest not-for-profit healthcare provider, it turns out that:
Half of gym users admit to secretly using a towel, toiletry or drink that belonged to someone else.
And there's more:
At least 20% of Nuffield’s clients admitted that they had gone to the gym when they were sick, some with colds, others with flu, still others with communicable viruses.
1 out of 4 gym goers revealed that, in at least one instance, they hadn’t laundered their workout clothes between exercise sessions.
At least 75% said they had seen other gym users commit hygiene offenses such as discarding dirty clothes, not wiping down sweat-covered exercise machines after use, or leaving soiled towels in the shower.
What's the takeaway? As gym-owners the impetus is on us to keep our fitness centers clean and safe for all of our clients, even those that have some pretty nasty habits.
To help you do this, I've made a list of tips to help you keep your fitness center clean, sanitized and safe.
(Gently) Give Your Customers a Few Hygiene Tips
Now, if you post a list of hygiene ‘must-dos’ or cleanliness rules in your gym you’re bound to offend someone. Some customers will regard such instructions as intrusive or dictatorial or, quite possibly, an invasion of privacy. You may even lose some gym users.
So, how do you avoid this?
Try a little humor. Instead of calling your rules directives or regulations, instead call them “suggestions.” And don’t make them sound too serious. Insert some wit. If you do, you’ll find that your suggestions probably have more of an impact ̶ and people will remember them more easily! Here are a few examples:
1. Danger. Piranha.
Got an open wound or infection? Best to skip the pool. The piranha will get you. They’re not fussy eaters! (Open wounds or broken skin/lesions can attract the kid of bacteria that lurks in swimming pools. Very important gym hygiene tip for your customers.)
2. Do not use flame throwers to sterilize gym equipment after use.
Try a sanitized wipe or a clean hand towel. Don’t leave a puddle of sweat on the seat. People might think it’s something else! (Bacterial and viral infections spread easily on gym equipment. Suggest that wiping down every machine after use to reduce such risks.)
3. Please don’t wear high heels, UGGs, wedges or Wellington boots in the showers.
You’ll fall over and sue us, probably. And the UGGs will get soggy! (Tell your customers that wearing flip-flops or shower shoes will greatly reduce the risk of their getting athlete’s foot, warts or other fungal spores.)
4. Sick? Mentally, we can’t help. Physically, we can try.
If you are ill, you’ll feel much better at home, in bed, with some chicken soup. Your mom would agree. And your fellow gym users will thank you! (Alert your customers to the fact that working out while sick not only threatens the health of their fellow gym-goers, but their impaired immune systems will make them susceptible to further infection.)
5. If you must kill your fellow gym-goer, the rule is that you have to eat them afterwards.
No exceptions. So, be civil. Be polite. If you’re tempted to be rude to your less-than-considerate gym-goers, don’t! We’ll tell your mother and she’ll ground you, for sure! (Find a nice way to let your customers know that courtesy and good manners go a long way ̶ especially if you have regulars who hog the machines, “save” equipment for later or for soon-to-arrive friends, or grunt their way loudly through a workout).
6. My. Aren’t we the flexible one? But did you chant your yoga mat into nothingness?
We love to see you imitate a twisty pretzel, or put your ankles behind your neck without saying “ouch”, but bring an exercise mat of your own. It’s only fair. And BTW, we really do hate the fact that you can “do” those positions. P.S. It’s called jealousy. (This is one of those rules that most people will see the sense of, maybe. But you can always push the hygiene thing.)
7. Members of IWSOWMC Anonymous not welcome!
If you are a member of “I-Won’t-Shower-Or-Wash-My-Clothes Anonymous” there’s a very good chance people are saying things behind your back. And they’re not very nice! (There may be no good way to way say this to someone’s face, so this is your first test!)
Beating a Dead Horse
Not a nice image, is it? But it got your attention, right? I use that subhead here because I’m going to drive home the importance of these rules by quoting more statistics. And these will stick with you, I think.
In its Guide to Health Club Cleanliness, the International Health, Racquet & Sportsclub Association (IHRSA) found that, “research has shown just how costly poor hygiene (or perceived poor hygiene) can be to a gym, which includes the following statistics:
56% of gym members surveyed expected their gym to be free of germs.
Gyms that spent approx 4% of their budget on housekeeping made more profit and had higher customer retention rates than those who spent only 3%.
If a gym was perceived to be unclean, customer satisfaction ratings fell from 83% to 43% and retention rates fell from 90% to 52%.”
When Pigs Fly
Actually, this section has nothing to do with pigs. Or flight. Or anything having to do with the cost of bacon! This is just a small suggestion to treat your gym with a disinfectant spray that is nonresidual and can be used on (almost) any surface. There's only one that's EPA-approved and it’s perfect for use in your cleaning your fitness center.
Is convenient to use and doesn’t stain
Has no added perfume or unpleasant odor
Is fast-drying and crystal clear
Doesn’t harm fabrics or carpets
Can be used safely on mattresses and upholstered furniture
Why not give it a try? It's cheaper than getting a rap as having a dirty gym.
(You'll thank me.)