What Clean Means in Health Clubs Now

The concept of “clean” has shifted dramatically.

Cleanliness and sanitization have undergone a true sea change in the club environment.

While both were a constant part of the pandemic, many of the steps taken to protect members at the time have become permanent standards. Two years ago, it might have been hard to imagine the physical presence of hand-sanitizing or individual cleaning stations, but they’re now ubiquitous. Technology has also been accelerated, as touchless check-in and crowd meters to gauge member traffic are now common features in club apps.

In fact, what was once common cleaning methodologies are now protocols, and maximum, deep cleanliness even has its own language:

  • Cleaning removes germs, dirt, and impurities from surfaces or objects. Cleaning works by using soap (or detergent) and water to physically remove germs from surfaces. This process does not necessarily kill germs, but removing them lowers their numbers and the risk of spreading infection.
  • Disinfecting means using chemicals to kill germs on surfaces or objects. This process does not necessarily clean dirty surfaces or remove germs, but by killing germs on a surface after cleaning, it can further lower the risk of spreading infection.
  • Deep cleaning is a general term for an exceptionally intense cleaning process often including areas that are not highly trafficked, such as behind appliances.
  • EPA-registered disinfectants are products that meet the United States Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) criteria. It has identified a number of disinfectants for use against SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.
  • Sanitizing lowers the number of germs on surfaces or objects to a safe level, as judged by public health standards or requirements. This process works by either cleaning or disinfecting surfaces or objects to lower the risk of spreading infection.
  • Sterilizing is the process of making something free from bacteria or other living microorganisms by bringing it to a high temperature with steam, dry heat, or boiling liquids.

Driven by consumer expectations, those heightened cleaning protocols are now standard operating procedures. In a recent article, Lauren McAlister, manager of marketing content at MindBody, wrote that a massive “92% of consumers are most concerned with rigorous cleaning guidelines in their decision to return to the health club.”

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Setting Standards

That message is clearly getting through to health club operators.

Planet Fitness CEO Chris Rondeau, for example, recently set the bar for “clean” in the fitness industry, if not all business sectors. Planet Fitness recently became the first fitness brand to achieve a WELL Health & Safety Rating by the International WELL Building Institute (IWBI). The IWBI validation puts Planet Fitness in the enviable position of being able to market its facilities as safe, clean, and healthy environments in which to work out.

Focused on operational policies, maintenance protocols, and emergency plans, the WELL Health-Safety Rating includes protocols geared to keeping spaces clean and sanitized; providing essential health benefits and services; communicating health and safety efforts; preparing for an emergency; assessing air and water quality; and more.

Fitwell is another organization that offers a similar type of certification.

Making Clean Easier

“The new standard of clean means your facility has a sustainable, safe, and healthy infrastructure, clean floors and surfaces, and excellent indoor air quality,” says Brad Schupp, founder of SPORTSMITH. “In short, it’s an environment that minimizes health risks and makes for pursuing a healthy lifestyle. The industry has also evolved in being more environmentally aware and considering its impact on society and the environment.”

Beyond redefining clean, Schupp notes, there’s also been a push to make it a more transparent process. Transparency—that is, having members consistently see the club being cleaned throughout the day—fosters greater trust in the safety of your facility.

“With elevated cleaning protocols, it’s all the more reason for chemical-free, sustainable cleaners, sanitizers, and disinfectants to be incorporated,” says Schupp. “New technology and products make cleaning faster, safer, and more efficient. They also keep your facility free of volatile organic compounds, or VOCs (gases that are emitted into the air from products or processes), and hazardous harmful chemical toxins sometimes found in cleaners.”

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To meet that need, Schupp says, NexGenAire offers Tersano SAO, a proven technology that takes ordinary tap water, restructures it on a molecular level, and transforms it into an all-in-one sanitizer/deodorizer. It’s stronger than bleach and as safe to use as water.

Tersano SAO’s unique solution sanitizes virtually everything, from hardwood floors, including rubber, tile, and vinyl; exercise equipment, including touchscreens and keypads; yoga and exercise mats; windows and mirrors; and a range of surfaces in showers and locker rooms—it’s even safe for use in food-service areas.

The Tersano system is on-demand and compact enough to fit in a janitor’s closet or utility room. It eliminates the need to purchase, transport, distribute, store, and restock multiple cleaning products. It’s also patent-protected and approved for sanitizing for up to 24 hours and cleaning for six days.

“We know it works,” Schupp says. “Just ask folks at the East Bank Club, Fitness Formula, F45, and Midtown Athletic, to name a few. The new standard for clean is here to stay, and we’re here to help clubs attain it.”

Visit NexGenAire and learn how you can save an average 25% ROI and get a $250 introductory offer to make Tersano SAO a key component of your sustainable infrastructure.

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Jon Feld

Jon Feld is a contributor to HealthandFitness.org.