Gym owners and managers can attract new clients with fancy machines, trendy group fitness classes and low membership rates. However, the condition of the gym matters just as much as its features. A commonly overlooked element of fitness centers is their cleanliness. Current and prospective gym members who see machines and equipment that aren't properly cared for will think less of the facility as well as its management and owner(s). Some will even terminate their membership if facility conditions are subpar. Prospective members won't take the facility's management seriously if machines are dirty, locker rooms are unkempt and sanitizer and towels are not present throughout the fitness center.
Cleanliness is an Important Competitive Advantage
Though keeping a gym spotless and germ-free might seem like a subtlety, it actually matters a great deal. According to a study conducted by the International Health, Racquet & Sportsclub Association (IHRSA), gym cleanliness is one of the most powerful tools to boost members satisfaction, retain members and catalyze revenue. The association's report states that those who perceive their health club to be extremely clean are quite likely to recommend the facility to friends and family. Those who perceive the club to be unclean are significantly less likely to recommend it to a friend, colleague or family member. The IHRSA reports that 10 percent of members who recently terminated a gym membership state that the facility's unclean environment played a role in their decision to quit.
It is clear that a clean gym that is free from grime, dirt and scattered sundries really does boost retention and inspire current members to tout the facility's merits in their social and family circles. In particular, new gym members and women are disproportionately inclined to value a clean workout and changing space. The moral of the story is your fitness facility should be just as clean, if not cleaner than your member's expectations for cleanliness and order. This standard of cleanliness is especially important for facilitates with high membership fees. Higher fees mean a raised standard for facility conditions.
How to Clean a Fitness Facility: Sweat the Small Stuff First
The manner in which you clean your gym is just as important as members' perception of cleanliness. Though it might seem prudent to have your facility cleaned late at night or early in the morning, such a cleaning schedule won't let your members observe your commitment to maintaining a pristine exercise facility. Keep in mind that members view the cleaning staff as the staff of your gym. These individuals should be visible, friendly and willing to accommodate reasonable member requests.
Of critical importance is an encouragement of proactive cleaning by members. This does not mean you should ask members to clean the entire facility. Rather, there should be trash bins spaced throughout the gym, ample towels and spray containers of sanitizer placed by machines in each room of the facility. Such convenient placement will increase the odds that members do their part to keep the facility clean by placing undesired items in garbage cans and wiping down machines after using them.
How to Clean Gym Equipment
Gym equipment is a magnet for bacteria and grime. These machines are used by one person after another. Add in the fact that gyms tend to be warm environments and it is easy to see why germs are seemingly omnipresent. Though it is not possible for the cleaning staff to wipe down machines after every single use, a consistent sanitizing of such equipment will reduce the quantity of harmful bacteria members come in contact with. Make use of disinfectant wet wipes to sanitize facility equipment several times per day. These wipes will help eliminate germs, grime and sweat left on the machines from facility members.
It is important to note that there is an important distinction between disinfecting and sanitizing. Wet wipes serve to disinfect, meaning their chemicals destroy bacteria and germs. This style of cleaning is essential as disinfectant is necessary for properly clean surfaces that are laden with body fluids like perspiration and saliva.
Your staff should use wipes in a nuanced manner. The full surface of the gym equipment should be thoroughly wiped. Let the machine completely dry before members are allowed to use it. This drying period will guarantee that the disinfectant has the chance to work its magic. Ideally, the disinfectant will be allowed to rest on the equipment for at least 2-3 minutes. If your cleaning staff is cleaning the facility late at night when few members are around or when the facility is closed, let the cleaning solution sit on the machines/equipment for 10 minutes or longer. This period of time allows the solution to completely destroy bacteria.
Cleaning Takes More Than Wipes
Wet wipes for disinfecting are only half the battle when it comes to gym cleanliness. Have your cleaning staff make use of spray bottles filled with ammonia solutions to boot. This disinfectant solution should be applied to machines on a regular basis. Do not hesitate to leave such spray bottles by popular machines along with disinfectant wet wipes, paper towels and hand sanitizer so members can clean gym machines to their liking.
In terms of the spray bottle ammonia's mixture, it should be quarternary ammonia combined with regular tap water. Quarternary ammonia is the agent within the cleaner that is specifically designed to destroy germs. If you are particularly fearful of Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus Aureus (MRSA), opt for a cleaning product that is specific to MRSA. Check the label for such information. A quarternary ammonia solution is perfectly safe to spray on surfaces members touch. Such a mixture does an excellent job of eliminating germs that commonly plague fitness center equipment. Just make sure your cleaning staff is aware that the solution should sit on the machines for a few moments before being wiped down. Otherwise, the germs won't be fully removed.
If you don't want to purchase a pre-made ammonia solution, you can take the DIY route and make your own. Combine half a cup of ammonia with half a gallon of water and you will have a highly effective spray cleaner at your disposal. It is also possible to combine dish soap, tap water and vinegar for an all natural gym sanitizing solution. The specifications of such a solution are as follows: one part dish soap should be combined with two parts vinegar. Any style of dish soap will suffice though one with a refreshing scent will certainly put members in a good mood. This mixture is perfect for resistance balls and dumbbells as it does not wear away at their neoprene surface coatings. You can even use such a cleaning spray to clean and deodorize your facility's yoga mats to boot.
How to Select the Proper Cleaning Solution
The extent of the cleaning process hinges on your unique preferences. If you want to cover all your bases, have your cleaning staff make use of a product that is EPA-registered as antibacterial. An antibacterial cleaner will disinfect, meaning it will destroy the majority of viruses and germs found in fitness centers. Keep in mind that disinfectants have unique chemical combinations. Some are environmentally friendly with chemical agents sourced from citrus oils etc. Some are phenol-based while others are alcohol-based and pose a threat to machines. Avoid these styles of cleaners as they are likely to corrode your expensive equipment.
Beware of drying chemicals as they have the potential to cause premature wear, cracking and aging of plastics and vinyls. As noted above, quarternary ammonia is ideal as it doesn't pose a risk to humans or machines. However, some quarternary ammonia solutions require a wet surface for upwards of 10 minutes in order for disinfection to occur. Some of the newer versions of quarternary ammonia disinfect in as little as a couple minutes.
Take care to avoid cleaners that pose a threat to human health. Bleach certainly kills germs yet it can harm skin, lungs and clothing. Also, avoid hydrogen peroxide as it has the potential to result in rashes and a severe irritation of the skin.
In the end, the cleaning solutions you select should be safe for the cleaning staff, gym members and the machines they are meant to clean. When in doubt, read cleaning products' labels, get a gauge of their limitations and clean as frequently as possible.
Cleaning Beyond Disinfectants and Sanitizers
Aside from spraying down machines with cleaning solutions, it is also necessary to vacuum around equipment. A thorough vacuuming every couple of days or even every night will collect all debris and dust scattered around the machines. Have your cleaning staff dust off all cardio equipment, weight machines and weights to boot. Make sure the outlets, plugs and wires are completely free of dust. Wipe the facility's windows, clean off all door handles and perform a thorough cleaning of the lockers rooms, showers and bathrooms.
When in Doubt, Clean It!
Though it is impossible to clean every square inch of your facility, anything members come into contact with should be cleaned on a regular basis. Do not make the mistake of merely cleaning the most popular machines only to leave other equipment and spaces rife with germs, bodily fluids, allergens and grime.
Yoga mats, dumbbells, kettle bells, machines, exercise balls and all cardio equipment should be cleaned several times per week. It does not matter if few members use certain machines or weights. All it takes is one sick or unhygienic member to use a specific piece of gym equipment to compromise its integrity and spread sickness to your members.
- Gym Wipes vs. Spray Botttles
- Alcohol-Based Vs. Alcohol-Free Hand Sanitizers
- Cleaning Supply Checklist for Fitness Facilities