Gyms across the country are cleaning up and beginning preparations to make a Covid-19 secure workout environment, so we went to see what changes were being made.

Anytime Fitness in Croxley Business Park, which opened in January 2019, is cautious that many of their members will not flock to gyms at once when they reopen on July 25, but the owner of the gym is affirming that gyms will be as safe as possible.

While preparations are still ongoing and the new layout of equipment has not been finalised, the gym is expecting to have everything ready this week.

Peter Chapman, owner of the business park branch, is hoping that members will quickly adjust to the new safety measures in place.

Spaced out equipment

Regular goers to the gym will have to get used to a new layout, for example the weights room will be transformed from two bays to three bays.

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Floor markings will be adjusted to have three bays - equipment being 1.5m apart

During the early period of the lockdown, some changes were made to keep equipment two metres apart.

But with changed government guidance, the equipment in the venue will be rearranged again to be a minimum of 1.5 metres to 2 metres apart.

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Equipment is being rearranged after it was made two metres apart following previous guidance

Other venues may have to remove equipment to assure social distancing, but this will mainly not be the case at the Croxley Business Park branch.

Mr Chapman said: “We are lucky to some extent, we only opened last year, and we didn’t put in a full set of kit, so we only put in like 75 to 80 per cent.”

However, exercise bikes in one of the studio rooms will be reduced from eight bikes to around six or seven.

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The equipment will be positioned to make sure everyone is facing the same way to reduce face-to-face contact and floor markings around the venue will enforce bays so that people have their own space.

Personal trainers will also have to adapt in teaching techniques while social distancing - as they are being asked to demonstrate the movements with separate equipment, and making their trainees mimic them.

As such, personal trainers cannot come up close and help correct the form of a person training.

Regular cleaning

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The gym is undergoing deep cleaning at the moment

During the tour, the gym was undergoing a deep clean to assure the surfaces are Covid-19 free.

But once gyms have reopened, gym goers will be asked to proactively clean surfaces and equipment after use.

Mr Chapman said: “We’re going to encourage, rather than enforce.

“There’s going to be loads of decals and cleaning stations so people will have the ability to take sprays and paper to clean the equipment themselves before and after use.

“The gym staff will be doing that as well, but we want to encourage members and not only our gym staff.

“It’s not an ingrained habit for everyone to clean equipment after using, so everyone’s going to have to learn that. We see out as a dialogue with our members to keep them safe, to keep us safe, to keep everyone else safe.”

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Staff will be cleaning high touch points every hour, and there will be regular cleaning around the general venue throughout the day.

Anytime Fitness branches across the country will also have regular maintenance with the ventilation system to keep it clean.


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Members will be asked to not use the showers and changing rooms if possible

The branch uses a unisex shower system - one which members will be asked to avoid using as much as possible during the reopening period.

Members will be asked to come pre-dressed in gym attire if they can, and to shower elsewhere than the gym.

While changing rooms and showers will still be accessible, reducing its use will mean less cross-contamination.

However, Mr Chapman acknowledges that since the gym is based in a business park, some people will most likely need to use the shower before a meeting.

He said: “If we can half the people who normally shower, we’re down to far fewer people in here during the day and with the regular cleaning, it should be fine.

“It’s a strange balance, we want people to learn the new routine of cleaning after themselves and cleaning for themselves and not lounging for hours - we want people to come in use the gym and go.”

Some things have changed less-so

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Following current government guidance, staff and gym members do not have to wear a face mask or covering.

However, anyone can wear one inside the gym if they feel more comfortable with it on.

Classes will have a lighter and less regular schedule, as the gym anticipates less people will come in during the reopening period.

And for those wishing to quench their thirst in between workouts, the water fountain will be out of use for people to drink from, but they can refill their water bottles.

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The water fountain will be restricted too

But the 24-hour gym will have reduced opening hours due to concerns of monitoring social distancing during this time.

Reopening expectations

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Anytime Fitness, Croxley Business Park

Mr Chapman believes that while the gym might not be the busiest during the initial reopening, members will slowly feel comfortable in returning to the gyms.

He said: “We think somewhere about three quarters of members will come back on the first week. Probably about a quarter of them are either shielding, working from home, and some are worried about contracting something from the gym.”

The owner estimates that around two-thirds of members are from workers at the business park, and roughly a third of them are people who live locally.

While some offices have reopened at Croxley Business Park, many are operating with irregular shift patterns and others remain closed as people continue to work from home.

He continued: “I think we’ll be affected heavily across July and August from people working from home, there’s a fair number of business park offices that won’t open until September or later.

“It was a premise of the business plan that I never thought would be at risk.”

Mr Chapman added: “Our mission is to make this is the cleanest gym they’ve (members) ever seen, reassure them with actual cleanliness, but also visibly with cleaning stations, hand soap topped up, signs - so it’s visible reassurance as well as tangible reassurance.”

And what about the future?

Anytime Fitness will continue to follow government guidance to make sure that the venues are operating safely, but in the most productive way possible.

Many offices are beginning to welcome the idea to make working from home a permanent option to many workers, even past the coronavirus pandemic.

Mr Chapman admitted he is unsure what to expect if offices at the business park do follow-suit as he said: “It is a concern, it’s hard to articulate how big of a concern right now, more people will work from home and if they only come twice a month why would they buy a pass here?”

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One of the signs on display before lockdown

But Mr Chapman believes that since obesity can be a contributing factor to suffering with Covid-19 patients, many people will still be inclined to work out and stay healthy.

If track-and-tracing identifies a member of the gym with coronavirus who attended the site recently, Mr Chapman said he is prepared to shut down the gym for deep cleaning if need be.

But he said: “We know that it does not transmit through sweat, but then people might wipe their face. It does come through mouth and your breath.

“Sweat itself isn’t a transmitter, and the public generally don’t get that.”