Cleanliness Protocols Prove Costly for Gym Owners, But Necessary, Nationwide Poll Shows

December 8, 2020 by
Credit: Motiv Fitness
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Part of the charm of the early CrossFit gyms was that they lacked the bells and whistles and shiny equipment of the Globo gym. Often housed in rugged home garages, few expected them to be clean. In fact, the humble, even grungy garage-feel, was at least part of what drew members to the CrossFit culture. And while this has changed over the years — many gym owners have become more fastidious when it comes to cleanliness — it’s also clear that the global pandemic has changed expectations about how clean a gym should be.

One big thing: According to a new Morning Chalk Up/Triib/TrueCoach nationwide poll of CrossFit athletes and gym owners, there’s a sizable gap between how clean gym owners think their gyms are and individual members’ perspectives. 

  • 86.7 percent of affiliate owners surveyed said they’re doing a “very good” job with cleanliness, health and safety. Only 62.9 percent of members agree. 

Going deeper: Though there’s a gap in perception, gym owners are taking their members’ expectations seriously and are investing time and money — hundreds, even thousands of additional dollars, each month — in cleaning supplies and equipment, doing laundry, and hiring professional cleaners, to comply with the new standard. For many, the additional cost is especially significant as business revenue is down in many cases due to COVID-19.

  • George Dobbins, the owner of CrossFit Dover in DE, is currently spending almost $400 a month extra on paper towels alone, while Casey Anderson, the owner of Flagler Village CrossFit in Fort Lauderdale, FL, is spending an extra $400 a month for a cleaning company to do a disinfectant deep clean each weekend. Meanwhile, Andres Schwartz’ cleaning bill has doubled. 
  • “Supplies and paying cleaning personnel account for that increase,” said Schwartz, the owner of FTX CrossFit in Wheaton, IL.
  • Even more extreme, Lawrence Jacobs, the owner of CrossFit Park Ridge in Chicago, IL., said his cleaning expenses have increased by $1,000 to $1,500 each month, and Adam Coyne, the owner of Seismic CrossFit in Rohnert Park, CA has invested “several thousand dollars” on making sure his gym is clean enough.
  • Finally, others like CrossFit Games veteran and CrossFit Strongman Rob Orlando, teamed up with Purifly, a professional grade cleaning company with years of experience in the janitorial and sanitation industry, to help create a cleaning programs specifically designed for individual affiliate owners. 

The big picture: There’s a newfound expectation that anything you touch — be it a medicine ball, a box, a barbell or even a foam roller — must be thoroughly wiped down and sanitized before anyone else can get their hands on it. In fact, 84 percent of those surveyed in the poll said wiping all equipment down has become commonplace at their gym, which was certainly not the case prior to the pandemic. Only 25 percent said this was common prior to the pandemic. And it’s safe to say this new cleaning standard, and the ensuing time and financial costs for the gym owner, likely won’t subside any time soon, pandemic or not. 

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