Are Gyms Safe? Is GHF Safe?
There are stories out there about gyms being a source of COVID-19 virus transmission. After reading the articles and emails, looking at survey methods, and interacting with hundreds of gyms across the country that are part of our large fitness industry association, there is nothing to indicate outbreaks are connected to fitness centers. Reading the articles carefully indicates a presumption of virus spread under certain conditions, but lack definitive data proving gyms are a hot spot.
We are committed not only to the health of our staff and members, but also the Gainesville community. We are local, just like you, and realize we must do everything in our power to contain the virus while helping people exercise and remain healthy during the pandemic and beyond.
Here’s what we are doing.
Gyms Are Designed To Prevent Spread Of Germs And Viruses
People have been sweating and breathing hard in health clubs forever so this has always been taken into consideration with the design of facilities starting with air quality. This design feature is critical during the pandemic.
There are two things that are of concern. One is the exchange rate of the air meaning how often fresh air from the outside is pulled into the environment. We’ve had our systems thoroughly checked. We exchange the air in our center every 6 minutes. The second component is humidity. What makes the outdoors safe is the humidity levels. The humidity is what stops droplets from traveling long distances. The ideal level of humidity is 40 to 60 percent. Ours is 57 percent.
GHF Proven To Be COVID-19 Free
We’ve always had to create the safest environment possible – pandemic or not. I understand you can read what I’m saying and believe I may be prejudice about our centers so I want to give you proof we have created The Healthiest Place in Gainesville.
Over the last several months we’ve been part of a study by the University Of Florida Engineering School Of Sustainable Infrastructure and Environment and the Department of Environmental Engineering Sciences. Chang-Yu Wu, Ph.D. Professor and Department Chair came to me with a proposal to test our environment for and evidence of the virus in our center. Knowing the cleaning and safety protocols we've had in place since re-opening, I felt completely secure in allowing him to do so. Dr. Wu and his team performed multiple tests, each over a 4-hour period, during our busiest times.
The findings report by Dr. Chang Yu: No COVID virus was detected.
The Quest To Be The Healthiest Place In Gainesville
When we were closed back in March we immediately began implementing every known means of stemming the virus in our centers. We checked out NASA and hospital surgery centers to learn how they keep their environments germ-free.
· We learned Ultraviolet Light was the best means to kill any viruses before they went through the AC system so we had UV lighting installed throughout our systems.
· We were aware of fans that pushed air through UV lighting and had multiple units installed throughout our centers as added protection.
· We purchased electrostatic cleaners to protect all of our equipment surfaces from transfer through touch.
· We doubled the number of hand sanitizers throughout the clubs.
· Our largest fans were placed in reverse.
· All of our door handles were covered with a product called Nanoseptic Door Handle Covers to kill all germs on contact.
· Everyone is required to wear masks as they enter and walk around the centers.
· Temperature checks are done on every person entering our clubs.
· Equipment is placed 6 feet apart.
· Cleaning and sanitizing of the equipment is done throughout the day by our staff as well as our members.
· Everything needed for cleaning our equipment is available to everyone.
We feel 100 percent comfortable that all the actions we have taken have produced the results we been hoping and planning for. Though all the steps we’ve implemented give us the healthiest environment from a facility stand point and allow us to successfully exist, it’s not the reason we do exist.
Exercise Fights Disease Including COVID-19
As everyone has learned, people with the strongest immune systems survive this virus at an extremely high level. Though we can’t control all aspects of a person’s health we can dramatically impact the exercise and stress reduction components of a person’s life. We have the ability to impact the young and the not so young. We have equipment and programming that cannot be replicated with outdoor training. We have staff that are ready to help individuals move toward their fitness goals and build their immune systems.
There are countless stories of our aging population who, upon their return to the gym, tell us they were living in pain while the quality of their lives continued to decrease. For them, exercise is the difference between life and death. And with the profound effect exercise has on mental health, the gym is a form of therapy to manage stress during the pandemic.
Thank you for giving us the opportunity to share this information with you so you may be informed on the highest level of cleanliness and safety.
Founder and Owner
Sanitizing And Safety Protocols
We researched how the best, hospitals and NASA, handled air quality to kill germs in the air and added UV light features to fans and AC ducts. We instituted physical distancing in our facilities: Our equipment is spaced 6 feet apart, our GroupFit Studios are spaced to give members an 8x8 space, our employees wear masks, the members wear masks when not actively engaged in exercise, and there is limited capacity in the sauna, steam, and hot tub.
We also instituted several sanitizing protocols as well as asking our members to adhere to mask, distancing, and wiping down equipment after use. Together we can continue to keep GHF the healthiest place in Gainesville.
- Increased the number of Purell hand sanitizer units throughout the gyms.
- Provide Wash Guard, a new hand sanitizer foam that will give you up to 4 hours of protection. Located at each main entrance.
- Added more gym wipe canisters (anti-bacterial/virus wipes) and made them available everywhere. One wipe will clean 5 machines (we don't want to waste them).
- Installed new Air Pear fans with a sanitizing UV light that kills 99% of all airborne germs.
- Added UV light feature to major AC ducts to kill germs and viruses.
- Added Electrostatic Surface Cleaner to kill 99% of germs for up to 21 days. We will spray on all gym equipment and facility surfaces every 14 days
- Note: The humidity of the gyms is 40-50% which is ideal for killing the virus.
"GHF Is COVID Free" says UF Scientist
A team of UF researchers, led by John Lednicky, Ph.D., and Chang-Yu Wu, Ph.D. are able to test the air for the virus that causes COVID-19. They use a unique virus aerosol sampler, co-developed with Aerosol Dynamics Inc., that gently collects airborne viruses and preserves their viability (device shown in video). The sampler uses water vapor condensation-based technology to efficiently collect virus aerosols, accomplishing a task not possible using other devices.
"Aerosol sampling is a noninvasive and effective technique for collecting airborne respiratory viruses, and thus has many important and practical uses,” Wu said.
Their initial study using the sampler device was performed at a hospital where researchers collected air samples that contained culturable SARS-CoV-2 from the air of a hospital room with COVID-19 patients. They were able to obtain viable viruses more than 15 feet away from the patient, contained within the room, and they matched the virus in the air to that in a nasal swab from that patient. Once the samples were collected, Lednicky, an expert virologist and aerobiologist, was able to isolate the virus in cell cultures, resolving the long-standing question of whether SARS-CoV-2 can remain viable in aerosols. Click here for the article.
The researchers brought the device to GHF Main on three of the busiest days to test the air for SARS-CoV-2.
The findings at GHF reported by Dr. Chang-Yu Wu:
No SARS-CoV-2 virus detected for 8/31 samples.
Analysis results show negative detection for 09/08 samples.
9/14 samples yielded negative detection of SARS-CoV-2.
Additional samples on 10/5 and 11/2 yielded negative detection of the COVID-19 virus.
How Gyms Are Designed Matters - The Importance Of High Air Quality
We also reached out to renowned architect Rudy Fabiano who designed our gyms and did so with air quality and safety in mind.
Rudy Fabiano, founding architect of Fabiano Designs, a full-service architecture and interior design firm, speaks out on the design of health clubs to optimize air quality.
He has designed over 900 gyms worldwide focusing on the user experience. His designs maximize safety through air quality and spatial features, such as large open areas, proper equipment spacings, and overall attention to the human movements through space.
He speaks on the architectural design that makes gyms as safe as the outdoors. Gainesville Health & Fitness is one of the gyms he has completely renovated over the past few years which includes these air quality features.
The Truth About Gym Safety During Covid
A Letter From Joe Cirulli
Over the last few months, national news articles have come out talking about health clubs being dangerous places. This claim started with an article about a South Korean group exercise studio having a large number of people contracting viruses. What was never revealed was the fact that there were 5-22 people in a 645 sq. ft. room. That’s about ¾ the size of a racquetball court.
This article convinced everyone all fitness centers were not safe. And though we have data in our industry showing the risk is minimal, the media is saying it’s not valid research, however, they were so quick to publish South Korean story without knowing the facts.
The Facts About Air Quality And Design Of Gyms To Optimize it
Somehow, gyms have been put in the same category as bars. Is this valid? Some believe that just because people sweat and breathe heavily, it must be dangerous. The truth is people have been sweating and breathing hard in gyms for decades. And the design of gyms have always had to take this into consideration. People believe it’s only safe to exercise outdoors and not inside because the general population is not aware our AC units pull in outside air and recirculate it several times per hour. In addition, we went well above and beyond the AC units pulling in outside air by studying what hospital operating rooms and NASA does for air quality. We found UV lighting in AC ducts would increase the safety of any air going through the system by killing germs and viruses. And we didn’t stop there. We added special fans with UV lighting in our studios like GroupFit, Tribe, Personal Training, Cycle and other areas of the gym including the locker rooms.
Other Safety & Sanitizing Features
Since people were concerned about germs on surfaces and equipment, we bought enough electrostatic solution to last us over a year. As well as having many cleaning and sanitizing products available throughout centers.
We added hand sanitizers everywhere, separated all equipment 6 ft apart, and require masks while walking around centers and while not actively exercising. We adhere to the physical distancing guidelines. We take our employees' temperatures when they come to work.
Assaults on health clubs have to be addressed. Are there some gyms not doing the right things? Yes. But be assured GHF is not one of them.
For those of you who are still at home, afraid to come to the gym: Our main concern is your health.
We’ve heard many say they are walking for exercise. Let’s imagine you’ve been bedridden for 6 months, once you get up and start to walk, it will be high-intensity exercise and your body will improve. As you get stronger, you’ll be able to walk further and further to the point where there’s no effort. And therefore, no improvement. Eventually, you could walk across American and except for sore feet, there will be no improvement. People believe this will help their cardiovascular system, which it may help slightly.
The physical challenges that occur as we age, are not only connected to the cardiovascular system (although there are some issues), but the bigger challenges have to do with the muscular system.
Our muscular system affects our balance, sugar levels, diabetes, and simple things like being able to stand up after sitting. Yes, you can go out for a walk without a gym or treadmill (weather permitting), but most people do not have the equipment to build the muscular system. And that’s why it's so important, especially for older people, to get back to the gym.
The incidence of viruses in gyms is almost nonexistent and it's a much safer place to be than other destinations.
Here’s another component that most people don’t think of. We don’t have customers, we have members who have a vested interest in the gym being a safe and viable place to be. Remember, our members want the gym to stay open too. We have the opportunity to regularly converse with them for the latest news about staying safe.
Our biggest concern is the health of our members, staff, and the community. We want this information to get out because we believe that the number of people who have become fearful of coming to the gym and in the process are losing their health, need to know that we have created the healthiest environment possible.