Sam Greaves, managing director of the Cleenol Group, considers the impact of demand for fitness facilities on the cleaning products market following the pandemic.
In the early days of the Covid-19 pandemic we saw a rapid increase in the use of cleaning and disinfection products as individuals and organisations stepped up hygiene practices to prevent the spread of the virus. According to a YouGov poll, in Spring 2020, 77 per cent of people reported improving their personal hygiene, such as washing their hands more frequently or using hand sanitiser.
While the UK government has recently removed the Covid-19 prevention restrictions and taken the approach to live with the virus, improved personal hygiene still remains a priority for many. In fact, 36 per cent of people in the UK continue to live by improved personal hygiene standards as of January 2022
Upsurge in health and fitness enthusiasts
With such unprecedented changes to people’s lives brought about by the virus, other habits changed too. A year into the pandemic, for many people, health and fitness became a priority. In May 2021, a survey carried out by the British Heart Foundation found that the pandemic was expected to lead to a surge in health and fitness enthusiasts.
Of course, during the peak of the pandemic, health and fitness venues were forced to close, however as the industry gradually recovers, a significant number of people, who are not currently members of gyms and sports facilities have considered joining one.
According to the survey, 16 per cent who do not currently have a gym membership are now considering getting one. But what are they looking for when choosing a gym or leisure centre?
Cleanliness a priority
Whilst cost, location and equipment type rank highly in people’s priorities when considering which leisure centre to join, the cleanliness of the venue is also a key consideration. The survey found that 44 per cent of those thinking about joining a fitness centre who did not currently have a membership, considered cleanliness to be a top priority. Compare that to other considerations such as variety of classes available (a priority for 19 per cent) and a café or refreshments provided (a priority for 6 per cent), it’s clear that gyms and fitness venues need to ensure that hygiene and cleanliness is up to scratch, if they are going to attract new members.
The YouGov poll also demonstrates that the level of personal hygiene that was adopted during the initial phases of the pandemic are dropping back both as we learn to live with the virus and as restrictions are lifted, so the challenge is now in the hands of the gym operators to finely balance those best practises that were implemented with those that add operational costs without a significant change in a member’s perception of hygiene. So, the question becomes one of how the highest standards of hygiene and cleanliness can be maintained?
Keeping one-way systems, contactless entry and exit and distancing guidance once in place is easy to keep there – after all, we are creatures of habit. Increased cleaning of equipment between use and during the day is good practise, and with the right products not only ensures cleanliness but extends the life of the equipment, keeping ventilation systems at maximum airflow would also improve the quality of the air that members are breathing and providing more hygiene stations will help encourage many to maintain those personal hygiene habits.
Understanding the importance of maintaining high standards of hygiene and cleanliness in these venues to protect the health and safety of staff and customers, maintain the performance of equipment, and to provide a pleasant environment for those who work at or use the venue remains key to any operator and the lessons learned from the last 2 years cannot be forgotten in a hurry.