How to Protect Your Centers and Members
As a marketing writer, I love Nyquil’s commercial: “Dads don’t take sick days. Dads take Nyquil.”1 (And Moms, too). As a person trying to stay well, I want people to take sick days when they’re sick.
Much of the United States just experienced a warm spell, and while March is right around the corner and spring may feel near, we’re far from the end of cold and flu season. According to Shape Magazine, the flu may not even have reached its peak yet. How’s that for a dismal thought? Looks like March may roll in like a lion and out like body shakes and congestion.
All jesting aside, the flu, in particular, can be devastating, especially for the very young, elderly and those with compromised immune systems. Thousands of people in the U.S. die every year from the flu. Even more actually do miss work, school and activities (like your classes!) due to additional colds and viruses lasting anywhere from 4 to 21 days.
As a community organization focused on health and wellness, it’s imperative that you go over and above when it comes to protecting your members from the spread of illness in your centers. While these germs are impossible to eliminate, there are some tried and true ways of cutting down on the bugs in your buildings.
Office and Facility Wellness Tactics
1. Enforce a “wipe down” policy before AND after equipment use
Ask members to please wipe down their stations and equipment with safe, disinfecting materials. One health study found that the rhinovirus, responsible for the common cold, is found on 63% of gym equipment. To keep it at bay, post reminders for members, make cleaning materials available at every turn, and double your staff efforts at sanitizing your space. Don’t forget water fountains. They may have more germs than toilets thanks to their proximity to saliva and germs in the air. And focus on the showers. They’ve been found to have the most concentration of germs out of any other gym space.
2. Install antibacterial dispensers for members.
Washing your hands between activities is one of the best way to cut down on germs. We hope members are washing their hands regularly, but let’s provide a helpful reminder by installing sanitizing stations throughout our buildings.
3. Encourage sick members (and staff) to stay home.
This goes particularly for any centers with child care. You must enforce a stringent policy, with articulated rules and symptoms that parents understand are not permitted in your center. Sleep is considered to be the #1 weapon against fighting illness. You could post funny and friendly posters throughout the building that read: “Feeling sick? Skip the workout and take a nap. You have our permission! We’ll be here for you when you’re feeling better.” Include a stat about sleep and illness prevention with a few other helpful reminders.
4. Post other wellness reminders.
Include the above suggestions like hand washing and wipe down guidelines and add the following suggestions:
- Towels are your friends. Use them on mats, benches, the floor and anywhere else with frequent touching
- Bring personal water bottles.
- Wash your gym clothes EVERY time.
- Keep your shoes and socks on in public spaces
No one wants to get sick, and no one wants to worry about getting ill at your center. Keeping a tightly run hygiene plan in your center will only protect your members and keep them coming back. We can’t protect community spaces completely, but we must do what we can during cold and flu season to keep our centers and members healthy. After all, that’s what we’re all about!