We always want to do business with a clean conscience. The best way to achieve that is by adopting consumer-friendly practices. That certainly means following local, state, and national guidelines for gyms as they re-open during this pandemic. We are going to discuss the other things that we do to make this a place that protects people from coronavirus and all harmful microorganisms.

Relentlessly cleaning away coronavirus, cold and flu viruses, and everything else

Years ago we paid a janitorial consultant who wrote an 85-page report about how to keep our facility clean. It described a set of guidelines known as the “5 Levels of Cleaning.” The levels range from Level 1—“Orderly Spotlessness”—down to Level 5—“Unkempt Neglect.” Those guidelines were originally adopted by higher-education facilities in 1992 and are now followed by serious cleaning and maintenance managers of schools, museums, and public buildings.  

We have maintained the Level 1 standard from the first day we opened, 10 years ago. Here’s the description for Level 1: “Level 1 establishes cleaning at the highest level. It was developed for the corporate suite, the donated building or the historical focal point. This is show-quality cleaning for the prime facility.”

That perfectly describes us.

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We have a GymValet on virtually every piece of equipment and over 45 spray bottles and towels throughout the facility. Each GymValet holds a spray bottle and microfiber rag. Spray bottles may be filled with HDQ Neutral, which is a hospital disinfectant and detergent that destroys human Coronavirus. They may also be filled with Oxivir Tb, which is a disinfectant that is especially good for electronics. Other bottles may be filled with SD-20, which dissolves the fat envelope around coronavirus and helps disassemble the virus, thereby making it inactive.

Every member has the right-at-hand convenience of a bottle and rag to clean before and after using the equipment. We also have best-in-class washing and drying machines that are solely here for us to continuously wash and dry the rags from the machines.

There are two hand-sanitizing stations on the workout floor. We have a total of four plumbed sinks to be used for handwashing.

Any day that we’re open for business, a company cleans all floors, removes dust and dirt from all other surfaces, makes every bathroom gleam, empties all trash, and cleans all of the aerobic and strength machines.

But now we have to do more

Human coronavirus’ spread through the world means that we have to think and act like commercial contract cleaners while giving members everything they need to train their way.

Contract cleaners use the term ‘clean’ in a quantitative way. Their definitions vary. Our gym has adopted this definition: when 30 or fewer microbes are present, when measured using an ATP meter, a surface is clean. Up to 30 is considered ‘food safe.’ We really want 0 microbes present after cleaning and disinfecting but will accept the ‘food safe’ level as a minimum standard.

Contagious people spread the virus through droplets produced by sneezing, coughing, spitting, and talking. The droplets are heavy enough that gravity pulls them down to surfaces below. People touch those surfaces and then touch their faces and from there the virus can enter through the eyes, mouth, and nose.

Our mission is to completely remove the viruses on the surfaces of cardio equipment and strength equipment, each door, each locker, each bathroom, each shower room, each changing room, and the main walls. Every day.

That includes scrubbing seventy-eight dumbbells and twenty kettlebells, fifteen barbells, one landmine, eight tubes, ten bands, three physio balls, seven medicine balls, eighteen spring clips, one sled, one set of monkey bars, two rings, one TRX, ten foam rollers and balls, fifteen mats, ten yoga blocks, one Bosu ball, one slide board, twenty-four lockers, dozens of miscellaneous accessories, and one-hundred ninety weight plates.

It’s a scientific plan. We’re timing how long it takes to scrub everything. We’re filming as we’re cleaning so that we can learn how to clean more thoroughly. We record and analyze all our data.

We shared the data with the training manager at an industry-leading janitorial and cleaning supply company that also offers state of the art training. He used it to write our new plan for keeping The Training Station cleaned and disinfected during the pandemic. He is a CMI  Certified Professional Trainer, ISSA Certification Expert, and helps companies earn CIMS and CIMS-Green Building utilizing  LEED: EB O&M green-cleaning criteria.

A breath of fresh air

The CDC says that airborne transmission from person-to-person in close proximity is uncertain and that it is unlikely over long distances. Nonetheless, we think it’s important to treat the air inside the gym.

Our ventilation system changes the gym’s air every 5 minutes. That rate was the requirement for hospitals for many years. The system also draws in outside air and at such a rate that it fills the entire air space a few times per day.

All of that air passes through filters. Different air filters have different ratings. There are a couple of different rating systems but what they have in common is that they assign a number to each filter and the bigger the number, the more efficient it is at filtering air particles from the air passing through the filter.

We use filters with a Filter Performance Rating of 10 (also called ‘FPR 10’), which is the highest rating for that particular rating system. FPR 10 will filter out bacteria and particles that can carry viruses. We replace filters three times more frequently than the manufacturer recommends.

Members are helping in the fight

We are fortunate to have conscientious members. We regularly see them using the spray bottles and rags, and using the hand sanitizer.

To encourage them, we have placed four handwashing sinks on the workout floor. Entering the gym members are required to wash their hands with soap and water for 20 or more seconds as we time them. They are also required to put their belongings in a special drop-off area. We clean and disinfect the items and then put them in a pick-up area.

We believe that much of the struggle to keep out coronavirus happens at the front door. It’s a fight that we will win with soap and water, cleaners and disinfectants, and an infrared thermometer.

Coronavirus loves crowds, we don’t

We have always been against a crowded gym and have always limited our membership. We stood ready to use a waitlist when necessary. There were typically between two and twenty members here at any one time.

We don’t have classes because our spaces are not big enough to give adequate square footage per exerciser.

We never used locker rooms. Instead, we have a series of private bathrooms, shower rooms, and changing rooms. Only one person at a time can use any of those rooms.

We now require members to schedule their workout times. It’s a simple process that they can finish in seconds via our website.

We know that an individual can’t create and maintain distance if there’s a lot of people around him or her. We therefore limit the number of people in the gym at one time. By controlling the number of bookings that can be made at any time and on any day, we achieve our objective of 15 or fewer people at the gym at any time. That number will be revised according to current local, state, and federal guidelines.

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We always made a serious effort to provide a clean workout space. We are now doing even more. Our members are doing the things that they are supposed to do. Together we make the Training Station Gym one of the safest places to exercise for fitness and, these days more importantly, for health.