15 Ways to Keep Your Group Fitness Class Safe

Tricia Madden

A Seattle instructors viewpoint on simple changes to consider for your next fitness class:

In a matter of days our care-free world here in Seattle changed when the Corona Virus was first detected in our state. Up until that point, grey sky’s and the typical gloomy February were our biggest complaints as a community. Now, our lives are changed for good.

Maybe we should have been this diligent before? YES, the flu is dangerous, and how inconvenient is it to catch a cold? Think of all the times we could have prevented the passing of other gnarly viruses!

While we are in the thick of this epidemic here in the PNW, health clubs are open and most classes are taking place. They are smaller in size as we have convinced our community to stay home even if all they have is a sniffle. However; it’s not business as usual. We are not digging our heads in the sand and pretending nothing is happening. We are taking action as a community to protect our clients and students. The following suggestions are simple approaches to teaching my classes right now. This is how I hope to operate year round with or without a contagious virus moving around our community.

Keep in mind, my typical customer is healthy but some have weakened immune systems and they may have friends, parents or grandparents they care for at home. This is why it’s important not to downplay staying healthy in group fitness.

From everything I’ve read, these steps below could significantly reduce the possibility of the virus spreading in a fitness class:

  1. When clients arrive, have them wash their hands.
  2. Remind students to bring their own mats if they own them.
  3. Do not provide any hands-on assists. Test your verbal communication skills.
  4. Arrive prior to your students and cleanse any equipment you are utilizing in class. Clean weights, balls, etc. in advance. Make sure the cleanser you are using is known to kill the virus. Consider whether it needs to dry etc.
  5. Teach a bodyweight class. I have a class in Seattle where most of my clients are over 65 years old so for the time-being I am teaching body weight only.
  6. For goodness sake, NO circuit training!! HELLO!
  7. Have students’ clean mats and equipment both before and after using.
  8. When lying on the ground, have students keep hands face up.
  9. Remind students that even the smallest sickness should keep them from attending.
  10. Set up your students so they have 6 feet of space in front their body and as much space around them as possible. Clubs should limit attendance to accommodate.
  11. In Hot classes encourage students to wear Barre Sox for coverage. I am biased here as it’s the company I work for. barresox.com
  12. Remind students to not touch their faces and encourage them to wear their hair up as it will help them not touch their faces.
  13. No high fives, no hugs, no touching. This will be difficult for most of us.
  14. Ask your clients to wash their hands as they leave as well.
  15. It’s your class – Take control.

Let your students know you are serious about all of the above and if they don’t comply they will not be allowed to participate. I had a client in her early 70’s last week tell me she’s not worried when I asked her to clean her mat because “she doesn’t get these things.” My answer “well, other people do.” While we are still learning about this Virus, these are my simple go-to’s for doing what I can. I want citizens to continue exercising since we know exercise, great nutrition and rest are the best tools for combating any virus. Hopefully these ideas will help all of you. Please don’t wait until your part of the world is in crisis. Start healthy protocols now.

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Published by Tricia Madden