Gym Safety Precautions Serve Many Purposes, Affiliate Owners Say

May 24, 2020 by
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From sanitation caddies to banning AirBikes and shirtless WODs, to mandatory masks and even temperature checks, affiliate culture today is much different from two to three months ago.

Though most affiliates are complying with the new way of conducting their business, many find differing motivations for doing so.

They’re taking action for three reasons:

1. To appease government authorities.
2. So members and the public can see they’re taking action.
3. To ease clients fears:

  • “Personally, I have minimal fears for our clients. The numbers just don’t meet the response in our area…(but) professionally we will be meeting the guidelines that are mandated by the state when we reopen June 1,” said Craig Davis, the owner of CrossFit Cask Strength in Bardstown, KY.
  • “On a personal note, I think the whole thing is a crock. People should be allowed to live their lives freely. If they feel it’s a legit risk situation then they should take the appropriate measures for themselves,” said Brian Stoneking, the owner of a CrossFit School of Sweat, a small garage gym affiliate in Temescal Valley, CA.

Despite his personal opinion, Stoneking is capping classes at three and has created three equally-sized stations, each equipped with its own equipment.

  • “I’m doing all of this basically because of what I anticipate the government to be dictating to us in the future and I’m trying to get a jump on it,” he said, adding that he is also concerned about what prospective clients might perceive his gym.
  • “I want the public to see the appropriate measures being taken,” he added.

A coach of eight years in British Columbia, who did not want to reveal his name added:

  • “It’s social currency. That’s it. It’s way more about the view from the outside and letting people know you have created a plan than about any fears of the virus,” he said.

Some owners have even been personally accused of not taking the virus seriously, and are being extra vigilant because of this.

  • “This virus is serious and dangerous for certain sectors of the population and I don’t want the general public to have some misbegotten belief that we aren’t taking this seriously. I have been accused of wanting my members to die because I want to reopen. I want to be able to demonstrate that we are taking this seriously, while not giving in to the emotional irrationality that has governed some people’s response to where we are,” said Angi Bowman Halvorson, the owner of Carlisle CrossFit in PA.

Hoping to put clients at ease: Chase Tolleson, the owner of CrossFit Algonquin in IL, is going so far as looking into touchless thermometers to take temperatures upon arrival, not because he thinks they’re necessary, but to help his clients feel comfortable.

  • “I am not personally worried about my clients’ safety. I feel they’ll do what they see fit in their best interest…I’m putting (measure) in place for my clients’ comfort, not for any fears of my own,” Tollson said.

Finally, others say they do have some concern about the virus hitting their gym, but this fear is still at the bottom of their list.

  • “(The) number one reason is definitely to appease the government. Worried members as a very close second. Real safety and health concerns third…(but) I know we can really provide a safe setting, said Willem Hilberdink, who has been running small classes outside in his 30,000 square foot parking lot in the Netherlands.
  • “I sit in a combination of those reasons. I want to protect my clients, but I also want to protect my gym from nosey social media neighborhood watch that will take a picture of my members working out and complain to the City about social distancing if there’s no visual proof,” said Chris Williams, the owner of Altamont Performance Lab in Tracy, CA.
  • “So we’re playing the game and also taking clients’ safety and psychology into account,” said Williams.

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