Things seem to be moving in the right direction, but a lot is still up in the air. Even where things are as certain as they can be – like the effectiveness of new vaccines and of wearing masks – some aren’t comfortable or are downright opposed to these measures. Until we come to a safer place in the pandemic, it can seem like things are as bad, or worse, than when we first learned of the coronavirus.
It sure sounds awfully dismal when we put it that way , doesn’t it? Well, let us get to the GOOD NEWS.
The good news for you is that there are things you can do for your community, specifically your amenity fitness spaces. Right now, you can take steps to offer the best and safest environment for your residents/users in your fitness spaces – and even offer wellness and covid protections at the same time. And we’re not talking about any major capital invest-type money.
In this article we’ll give you steps you can take and services you can use to give your residents a new sense of normalcy; get them back to their favorite routines, and bring back some of their mental, as well as physical, wellbeing.
Here are the simple, low- or no-cost upgrades or changes you can make almost instantly. Add more gym wipe dispensers and more hand sanitizing stations. We recommend two for each grouping/area of equipment; one at each end. use signage (more) to indicate social distances but also for one-way traffic and where it’s okay to wait for equipment to discourage close groupings of people. This type of signage is readily available online (look for free downloadables; there are tons of them) and at sign shops (FedEx/Kinkos already has a wide range of signage you can choose from).
It is important to keep your community informed. Even though we are all inundated with news and statistics and advice for best practices and so much more, even with all that, your residents need to hear from you. You need to provide them with information about 1) your understanding about what is safe and what is not, and 2) everything you have done and will do to make the common areas in your community safe and bring them up-to-date. You should be inviting them to come and see for themselves. Try this: Host a walk-though – taking all the necessary safety steps. You might even make it a fun chance to “mingle” with other residents while they see what’s been happening at the fitness center. (More on that below.)
The next level of steps you can take involves just a bit more from you. Now, even some of your biggest fitness devotees may be reluctant to come back to your open facility. Whether it’s unreasonable fears from misinformation or just an especially cautious one who wants to wait it out a bit longer. Getting some of them to comeback would be quite a coup, signaling to others that it is time to get back to getting fit. So, bring them in with some new sizzle! The biggest thing going since shortly after the pandemic started is virtual fitness. It comes in all shapes, size and formats. And so much of it is free or low cost.
Now, anyone who has even thought about exercising on their own these last 10 months has found an online fitness source they can use. And many of them found one they love! But giving them that programming isn’t what will bring them back. It’s not what they’re looking for from you. You can give them their old lifestyle back… well, a piece of it anyway. It’s the people (isn’t it always?) they miss. The friends they met at the fitness center every time they worked out. The “sweat sister” who gently urged her to come an extra day to workout with her; it’s that guy from his building who he’d never met and now sees every other Tuesday to get some extra leg work in. These are connections that would have never been made had it not been for your fitness center. Obvious Fact: The more people a resident knows in their community, the longer they will stay. Say it with me – it’s community they’ve been missing. And your job has been building community all along.
With that said, every property manager, every lifestyle director and all of you who have even just a hand in keeping your amenities current, attractive and vital, you now likely have at least a dozen ideas of how to open your fitness spaces and other amenity spaces and welcome your community back in. Show them that you’ve worked to make them safe – and make them feel safe – throughout your community. You certainly don’t need to know fitness to know how to do that.
So, here are a few things you may not know that can help you.
Offer Space. For social distancing while exercising, the minimum amount of clear space per person is 250 sq. ft. That means 5 feet to either side and in front and back of a single person. For 3 people, that’s 400 sq. ft. which is a room slightly bigger than 20’ x 20’.
Invite people to come use whatever space you have that’s big enough for more than one person. Encourage them to invite their usual workout buddies. They bring whatever they use at home to get their fitness on! Resistance bands, free weights, form rollers, a jump rope – whatever they want. You can provide them a written exercise to follow, music, water, anything. Or nothing. They will come for the opportunity to get out of their home and get together with their fitness friends.
Virtual fitness. It’s mainstream now. Look around and you’ll easily find all sorts of fitness equipment with virtual fitness trainers and coaches, exotic locations and fitness courses – a connection to a worldwide community and a lot more. A single piece of new equipment with VR can attract even casual exercisers in droves. And while they are waiting to use that machine, there able to check out how nice, open and safe the facility is. They won’t forget. And even if the novelty of the virtual reality wears off on them, they’ll be back because now they know what you’re offering. A safe place to get back to working out regularly.
Of course, there’s a lot more than we’ve presented here. Do a little research on your own. Talk to some of your residents/members who you know are a big proponent of your fitness center; find out what they would like to see. Then talk to some experts. It doesn’t cost you anything. But be prepared for some surprises and some more good news.