Matthew Gregson, Director of Operations at Fluid Hygiene discusses industry challenges and best practice in the sector.
This article appears in Gym Owners Monthly - June 2018
When customers go to the gym they are expecting to burn calories, increase their strength and improve their health and fitness. But if your gym hygiene lacks a lot to be desired they will leave the gym with a lot more than ripped abs! Gyms like many public places harbour bacteria, but gyms are a well-researched hotspot for germs which can produce illness or infection. Providing a clean environment for your gym or health club is a priority for your customers and will enhance member experience and satisfaction.
Gyms vary in size, but most have a number of different areas for members to use. All of them need to be kept clean, from spaces where people exercise, to other spaces such as changing and locker rooms or leisure spaces.
Gyms accumulate many germs due to the large number of people using the same machines on a constant basis. Over the course of a day, gym equipment is subject to sweaty hands, dirty shoes and sometimes literally, blood, sweat and maybe even a few tears! Every time someone uses a treadmill, they’re transferring dirt (and worse) from their trainers to the conveyor. After ten people, you can begin to see the dust and dirt accumulate on the track as well as the buttons and handles.
The fitness area can retain odours and unpleasant smells, and dangerous bacteria which can contribute to the spread of contagious diseases if the areas are not sanitised properly. Nasty odours can make the client experience very unpleasant, but they can easily be eliminated by using the correct cleaning procedures. Swimming pools, showers, toilets, steam rooms and saunas, are all ridden with germs on surfaces and floors.
At Fluid Hygiene we recognise that it is vital that your health club, workout areas, changing rooms, shower areas, kids' play areas, eating areas, tennis and squash courts all look clean, and professional for your gym members, visitors and your staff.
So how can you keep your gym clean? Here are just a few suggestions:
First impressions matter
The first impression of your facility is usually made or destroyed on entering the gym. It may be a sweat inducing environment, but no one wants to be reminded of that as they enter. Ensure your premises smell clean and fresh and not overly disinfected by using the right cleaning products. Give special attention to the entrance way, doors, windows, patio approach (if you have one) and most importantly the reception desk.
Don’t delegate cleaning to your customers
In many gyms it’s become an unwritten rule for customers to wipe down gym equipment after use. But if they use their own (often unwashed) towel this will just dry the sweat on the machine, it does very little to kill germs and can spread bacteria from one machine to another. Some gyms provide paper towels and hand sanitisers or sanitising sprays, and with correct usage this may help the spread of germs, but how often are customers actually using these? Although gym users can help you keep on top of machine cleaning, it’s obviously not their responsibility. Ensure that a member of staff cleans each machine on a regular basis and make sure you arrange periodic deep cleans of the entire facility. If your gym provides exercise mats for mat-based classes, it is important to ensure the mats are regularly sanitised. Don’t rely on customers using their (often sweat soaked) towels on the mats as an indication that mat cleaning is not required. Regular sanitising with cleaning fluids and tools which won’t damage your equipment ensures you keep your premises hygienically clean.
Pay attention to the floor
Gym floors are high traffic areas, whether people are walking around with shoes or with bare feet in a studio, changing room or floor area around a swimming pool, the floor is a breeding ground for germs and bacteria. Depending on the floor surface, you need to use the appropriate floor cleaners to maintain class studio floors, changing room floor and pool area. Regular maintenance of tiled, stone and wood surfaces in sauna rooms with cleaners that naturally deodorise, will leave surfaces clean and residue-free. If you have carpet in your gym, keeping the floor clean could be a challenge, particularly when you consider the inevitable spillages involving energy drinks and protein shakes. Arrange a carpet deep clean to ensure stubborn stains are removed and the carpet remains hygienically clean.
Keep communal areas clean
There’s more to keeping a gym clean than removing visible signs of dirt and grime. With so many people entering a gym each day and making use of the machines, keeping a workout environment clean can be a real challenge. High traffic in locker rooms presents a particular challenge in maintaining sparkling surfaces and controlling odour. Like any public restroom, those in a gym need to be cleaned regularly. When we consider how many sweaty people use gym restrooms and changing rooms on a daily basis, it’s easy to see why cleaning the area thoroughly is important. Introduce a cleaning schedule and ensure a member of staff checks on the restrooms and locker rooms on a regular basis to check standards are maintained. Then ensure you arrange periodic deep cleans to ensure the communal areas are as hygienically clean as possible.
Don’t just clean, make sure it smells clean too
A common mistake gym staff make when addressing odours is to just mask the smell rather than remove it. To fully tackle the problem, you need to remove the source and scrub away any odour-causing bacteria. A steam cleaner can be a fantastic tool for cleaning everything from bench presses to the treadmills. It can also be used to clean exercise balls, machine handles and even dumbbells. With the help of a steam cleaner, you’ll be able to remove sweat, grease and smells in a matter of seconds. Regular steam cleans of your facility will reduce the odour inducing bacteria and create a hygienically clean environment.
Do sweat the small stuff!
There are times when “don’t sweat the small stuff” applies, gym cleaning is not one of those! Free weights have been found to carry 362 times more germs than a toilet seat! You don’t need to think too hard to know how that statistic has come about. Ensure your weights are as clean as they can be by arranging deep cleans of all your hand-held gym equipment.
Ensuring your gym is hygienically clean
Health clubs and other fitness and leisure facilities can be extremely busy at certain times. People are using exercise equipment, dripping with sweat, moving from machine to machine, at all hours of the day and in some cases, at night. Your cleaners need to be able to work to a flexible schedule, get in and out quickly and work efficiently to ensure minimal disruption to your business. Any business needs to be careful about maintaining high standards of cleanliness. However, gyms need to be especially vigilant, as people are sharing spaces, using equipment one after the other and, of course, getting sweaty. There are some particular health risks that are important to fight against in a gym setting, including MRSA and various other bacteria. Good hygiene in your gym protects your members, your staff and your business. Gyms these days can accommodate a variety of uses such as gym classes like spinning, yoga, free weights and cross fit. Which means there will be a lot of spaces in your gym that need regular cleaning and spaces which would benefit from a periodic deep clean, e.g. around the swimming pool, high level windows, sound systems, ventilation and lighting. Enlisting a cleaning firm that can clean your gym from top to bottom will guarantee that all these areas and more are taken care of. A comprehensive clean of your gym on a daily or weekly basis will ensure that every time you open your gym, your customers are given a fresh smelling and clean environment to train in. Using an experienced cleaning contractor rather than an inhouse team will help you maintain a clean and hygienic environment for your clients and employees and are guaranteed to leave your premises at the highest level of cleanliness.
Providing peace of mind
Fluid Hygiene has been the cleaning contractor of choice for gym and leisure businesses for over 20 years. We provide high standards of cleaning, quick and effective daily contract cleaning and periodic dep cleans to meet business needs and ensure continuity. Our cleaning programs are customised to meet the challenges of your individual site. We understand in this competitive environment value for money is of paramount importance to our clients and we pride ourselves on delivering hygienically clean solutions, optimal service and value.
For more information about our Gym and Leisure Cleaning service visit Gym & Leisure Cleaning