The fitness and leisure sector has been badly hit by this crisis, and as we approach the end of lockdown there is still no set date for when it can properly reopen in England. With new regulations set to increase workforce health & safety measures and a razor-sharp focus on compliance impending, gyms need to use this extra time ahead of reopening to reflect and adopt new technologies to put them in a position where they can reopen.
Currently the world has got used to a ‘GFH’ model- ‘Gym from Home’. With hygiene concerns and money spent on home equipment at the start of lockdown, many will be reluctant to return to the old ways of working out.
As it stands, frontline gym workers are facing an uphill battle with limited resources. As COVID-19 is set to impact our lives for the foreseeable future, now is the time for gym owners to implement new technologies to bring them up to “COVID code” and also offer the best experience for users possible.
So where should gym owners start on their digital transformation journey?
Beefing up on Hygiene
Hygiene is going to be the number one issue to address. Using simple technology such as NFC sensors at key locations, paired with a monitoring app, allows gym managers to flag specific cleaning tasks for workers in the vicinity. With sensors it is possible to have an overview of what staff are dealing with and what jobs have been dealt with, giving you a clear audit trail on all hygiene procedures. Using smart tech, gym owners can enable their frontline workforce to tackle cleaning operations by providing them with detailed checklists and guides on a device they can carry in their pockets.
Digitising Social Distancing
Gyms are now dealing with new challenges regarding machine placements, perspex shields and scheduling equipment. Technology can play a key role in adhering to social distancing guidelines, for the safety of both the public and of staff. Again, sensors can effectively people-count by processing things as simple as mobile phone signals- By monitoring how many Bluetooth/Wi-Fi signals are in a given area, the sensors can map out where people are located, alerting managers if areas become congested and allowing them to take action.
Heatmapping Hot Spots
Smart technology provides gym managers with a digital map of the leisure centre. By using sensors to zone areas of the leisure centre, managers can manage any ‘hot spots’ that have the potential for congestion such as changing rooms, steam rooms and bathrooms. Using maps, staff can be assigned to monitor their zones, whilst tasks at specific NFC sensors can be scheduled and staggered to prevent congestion. Keeping the public safe and physically distant can be a challenge, but simple door sensors can notify the control room if a specific door has been frequently opened over a short period of time, allowing managers to send a member of staff to deal with any overcrowding.
Leaving lockdown requires strict data management to make sure that anybody who could potentially have come into contact with COVID-19 is quickly identified and asked to self-isolate. Digital transformation of a gym’s frontline workers can help with contact tracing through monitoring which rooms staff are working in and at what times. If a staff member then begins to show symptoms of COVID-19, data from simple handheld devices and sensors around the gym venue can show who they came into contact with and alert them to self-isolate.
Digitising an entire leisure centre can seem like an overwhelming task, particularly at a time when resources are already stretched. However, setting up a digital operational solution can be done in a very short period of time and is fairly inexpensive. Using the most basic of sensors, an NFC tag placed in various locations around a leisure centre for example, eliminates paper-based processes and completely digitises frontline operations. Placing a sensor and programming can be done within hours and has a lasting positive impact on day-to-day operations.
When we think of the impact of COVID-19 it’s hard to look at anything but the negatives. However, it has presented the world with an opportunity to change. Rather than retreating into the new ‘normal’ we can instead challenge ourselves to embrace a ‘new beginning’ and digitise operations to provide the public with a safe, clean environment to enjoy, whilst empowering and enabling frontline workers with the technology they need to efficiently and safely do their jobs. Of course, some will choose to continue with their GFH routines, but for those who don’t: An exciting new gym is waiting for them.