7 Ways to Keep Your Health Club Clean and Inviting

Members rate facility hygiene as a high priority. Here are seven steps to make sure no detail is overlooked at your club.

This winter is one of the worst flu seasons in memory. According to the Centers for Disease Control, the flu has officially reached epidemic levels in the U.S., with vulnerable populations ending up in hospital emergency rooms and dozens of deaths reported. The latest influenza strains have also wreaked havoc overseas, as the U.K. and other countries deal with their own epidemics.

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This casual spread of bacterial and viral contamination isn’t news to anybody who operates a health club. Fitness facilities can be unforgiving incubators of communicable disease, especially on high-touch surfaces like cardio machine keyboards. Gyms also have to deal with fungal infections like athlete’s foot and MRSA, which tend to collect on exercise mats and microfiber floors.

A sick member is an absent member. And if a club continues to serve as a petri dish for disease, then that member will become an ex-member in no time. Why invest thousands of dollars in new cardio machines or locker room facilities if they keep getting your members ill? Cleanliness needs to be a priority for clubs.

Cleanliness doesn’t just help ensure the “health” part of the health club promise, it’s also a retention driver. According to an IHRSA report, 90% of members surveyed said they were more likely to renew their membership if their facility was clean. In fact, the report directly states: “A club’s cleanliness is a vital part of its operational, social, and financial success.”

The same IHRSA report found that cleanliness also affects non-dues revenue, as members cut their time short and don’t try new services if they’re concerned with facility hygiene. You don’t have to be a germaphobe to recoil at the sight of a pool of sweat on a treadmill, no matter how brand-new it is.

Sure, you didn’t get into fitness to be a janitor, but you need to take this seriously. Even if cleanliness isn’t on your radar, it is for your members.

“A sick member is an absent member. And if a club continues to serve as a petri dish for disease, then that member will become an ex-member in no time.”

Perception Is Reality

To keep a health club clean is no simple task. Your facility is full of people of varying personal habits running around with exposed skin, regularly discharging bodily floods in the form of sweat, spit, and other emissions (yuck, we know). Your cleaning staff has their work cut out for them. If your club has long hours, you may not have time to do much of deep cleaning. It’s a constant battle.

A lot of maintaining club cleanliness is common sense, but just in case you’re overlooking a detail, make sure you consider the following:

  • Offer equipment wipes. If it’s cost-feasible, offer presaturated, disposable equipment wipes for quick and efficient cleaning.
  • Set up non-alcohol-based hand-sanitizer dispensers. Key areas like the cardio room should have some accessible non-alcohol-based hand sanitizers. Just as you would look for non-alcohol-based cleaning and disinfecting wipes, you should be sure to offer non-alcohol-based sanitizers as well. Alcohol-based products can often degrade fitness equipment's plastic and rubber components, especially if used incorrectly.
  • Encourage cleanliness with posted reminders. Signage reminding sweaty exercisers to wipe down equipment can go a long way. It sends a message to members that you’re taking hygiene seriously.
  • Have employees monitor areas regularly. You don’t want employees using harsh cleansers while your members work out, but having staff periodically disinfect with disposable wipes will efficiently keep equipment healthy.
  • Don’t neglect the locker room. You don’t want to feel like you need a hazmat suit to enter your locker room. IHRSA’s report on cleanliness cites rest rooms and locker rooms as the locations where members judge you on your overall commitment to cleanliness. Don’t let it get out of hand.
  • Address complaints immediately. If there’s a sudden issue, make sure your staff attends to it right away. This also increases the perception that you give cleanliness a high priority.

While these measures help, they aren’t enough. And this is when you need to call in professionals who specialize in cleaning products and services for health clubs.

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The Value of Fitness Industry Experience

High-touch surfaces, like cardio keypads and weight handles, are notorious for resisting decontamination. For instance, terrycloth and paper towels can potentially cause more contamination by spreading germs or leaving soiled fibers behind. Laundered towels often don’t hit the temperature cycles to kill organisms and don’t get the job done.

Then there’s the cleaning products themselves. The aforementioned fungal viruses common in fitness environments need disinfectants powerful enough to eliminate them. Your standard janitorial products aren’t going to cut it. Common cleaning tools like mops used in offices and other public places also come up short in a club environment where space can be tight, such as in circuit training areas. Overall, club’s present unique challenges to traditional cleaning tools.

This is where a company like Athletix Products comes in. A division of Contec Inc., a corporation with 27 years of experience in cleaning products, Athletix has become a leader in offering products specifically tailored to today’s health clubs. Here are a few of them:

  • Athletix Equipment Cleaner Wipes. Alcohol-free and ammonia-free, these wipes are safe for repeated use and don’t spread contamination like cloth and paper towels can.
  • Athletix Guide Rod Wipes. These clean, protect, and lubricate guide rods, elliptical tracks, and seat slides.
  • PREMIRA Tight Quarters Mop. Conveniently sized mop for tight spaces.
  • Contec Mirror, Floor, & Mat Mop. Efficient telescoping mops for mirrors and floors. These can save a lot of time.
  • PREMIRA Large Floor Mop. Commercial-grade 48-inch mop for quick gym and studio room cleaning.
  • Wall-mounted and free-standing dispensers. These include stainless steel floor stands for dispensers. They can contain wipes or disinfectant, and should be placed in high-traffic areas.

For more information on these and other cleaning products exclusively developed for health clubs, visit the Athletix Products website or call 864-503-8333. If you’re attending IHRSA 2018 in San Diego on March 21-24, stop by the Athletix Trade Show booth 2731 to see their range of products.

Jim Schmaltz

Jim Schmaltz is a contributor to IHRSA.org