Sanitization of Facilities Operating During the Pandemic
By Brock Fritz
Modern fitness facilities have spent years politely asking customers to wipe down their equipment before and after each use. Many gyms have placed wipes, towels or sprays around the room, along with signage encouraging the use of cleaning equipment. The COVID-19 pandemic has taken away all casual prompts, however, as fitness facilities must meet health and safety guidelines in order to operate during the pandemic.
Wipes and disinfecting sprays can only be effective if they get used. GymValet, which was founded in 2006 by Dr. Bruce Sherman, attempts to increase the level of use by allowing facility operators to attach spray bottles and towels directly to strength training and cardio equipment.
"The sanitizing solution should be sprayed/applied to cover the full surface of the body-contacted parts of the equipment, left to sit for at least 10 seconds, and then wiped off," the GymValet website notes. "It is incumbent on fitness center owners and managers to optimize/maximize the possibility that regular equipment cleaning is achieved; give the human cleaners — members and/or staff — the best chance to sanitize the equipment by placing the cleaning supplies in direct proximity of the equipment. Every extra step that the human has to take to access the sanitizing supplies minimizes the chance that the equipment can or will be cleaned before and after use."
GymValet's website also notes that, while COVID-19 is an "enveloped" virus that sticks to surfaces, that also enables it to be killed by disinfectants that break down viruses chemically.
Similarly, CleanSpray Technologies' mission is to "use science and technology to provide efficient and effective methods for mitigating human exposure to harmful pathogens by cleaning the air we breathe, and the surfaces we touch."
CleanSpray's Bioesque™ Botanical Disinfectant Solution is a one-step cleaner that protects equipment against bacteria, viruses, tuberculosis and fungi.
Cleaning fitness facilities goes beyond the workout equipment. There may be pools, floors, walls or bathrooms that require attention, too.
Ramuc's Clean & Prep Solution removes all oils, debris and contaminants that form on those larger surfaces — from painted surfaces to plaster, concrete, gunite or fiberglass. The use of this product on pool surfaces before closing aquatic facilities ensures that the pool walls will be ready upon reopening.
Allied BioScience has developed antimicrobial-coating biotechnology that works 24/7. Needing just a single application to continuously protect surfaces, Allied BioScience's SurfaceWise™ coating has been approved by the EPA for use against COVID-19. The SurfaceWise™ non-toxic coating is applied via an electrostatic spray, with one gallon covering 4,000 square feet. Therefore, no matter how many times people touch a surface throughout the day, SurfaceWise™ will keep it disinfected.
Similarly, the Clorox® Total 360® Electrostatic Sprayer System leverages electrostatic technology to coat hard-to-reach surfaces with Clorox® disinfecting solution.
A facilities' cleanliness also depends on the air flowing through it. Synexis® LLC, founded by Jim Lee in 2001 as a direct response to a New York City project in the wake of the Sept. 11 tragedy, attempts to keep air clean by using a patented technology that takes oxygen and humidity from the air to create hydrogen peroxide gas or dry hydrogen peroxide (DHP™).
"Wherever air goes in an indoor facility, so too will DHP to safely reduce the presence of viruses, bacteria, mold, odors and insects," Synexis representatives say. "The Synexis® system is UL-certified to produce no ozone and works continuously without disruptions or changes in workflow.
"We designed Synexis® to be a safe, environmentally friendly system that provides continuous protection without disturbing normal work operations or workflow. Hydrogen peroxide is a natural component of human lung chemistry. And our DHP exists at concentrations well below those naturally maintained inside the lungs."
Once the Synexis® BioDefense System is installed, it works 24/7 in an attempt to ensure a building's occupants feel comfortable in the space.
WellAware has developed a way to remotely monitor air purification. The company states that PureAware™ uses four-layer filters to destroy up to 99.98 percent of airborne viruses, and filter 99.97 percent of PM0.3 particulate matter. Users can also customize their service for their space, as the PureAware Pro provides two times the airflow, and the PureAware Compact is intended for smaller spaces.
PureAware's mobile app also allows customers to scan a QR code to see filter status and air quality before entering a facility. That level of knowledge and comfort will be essential in returning businesses to pre-pandemic levels of use. WellAware automatically sends a new filter when it detects a replacement is needed.
Not going anywhere
While the race toward cleaner facilities has been accelerated by COVID-19, those within the industry don't expect the focus on sanitization to go anywhere.
"We do anticipate the focus on clean facilities to last after the current pandemic is over," Clorox representatives say. "The COVID-19 pandemic has brought a renewed focus on 'cleaning for health' and will likely have long-lasting effects on human behavior and standards. The cleanliness and safety of shared environments is top of mind for many people, and we don't expect that to change in the near future. We take our role in helping protect public health seriously and our priority will remain as such."
This article originally appeared in the October 2020 issue of Athletic Business with the title "Sanitization of Facilities Operating During the Pandemic." Athletic Business is a free magazine for professionals in the athletic, fitness and recreation industry.
Ensuring a healthy gym environment even after COVID-19
The COVID-19 outbreak has done immense harm, not just to affected individuals, but also to the many businesses that have been forced to shutter during mandated stay-at-home orders. Industries that depend on in-person interactions have been among those hardest hit: bars, restaurants, theaters, retailers and, yes, gyms and fitness centers.