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Fitness and Air Quality

by Toby Schoonover on December 15, 2020  in air qualityfitnessgymsindoor air quality

Airflow in Fitness: How a Fitness Facility Fan Can Achieve Optimum Gym Ventilation

When lockdown hit, one of the main day to day activities that was missed by so many was being able to go to the gym. It is reported that there are in excess of 64 million people in the US with a gym membership and the health and fitness club industry is worth over $35 billion; that means that gyms being shut due to potential Coronavirus risks, is a pretty big deal.

The main issue when it comes to protecting gym-goers from exposure to COVID-19 and other contagious illnesses, is that the very nature of attending a gym results in frequent movement and the potential spreading of germs from place to place - and therefore, person to person.

In addition to the immediately apparently sweating, heavy breathing and sharing of equipment, there are many other hidden factors to consider when safeguarding the fitness fanatics among us. And, whilst gyms are still said to be significantly safer during these times than schools, bars and clubs, there are further measures that can – and should – be taken, to ensure that transmission rates and the risk of infection is kept as low as possible in our fitness facilities.

Why Gym Ventilation is Important

Ventilation is obviously one of the main ways that gyms and health clubs can tackle the risk of having contaminated air floating around their facilities. Even without the challenges brought about by the Coronavirus, gyms are premises’ where your exposure to polluted air is higher than what it is in many other places due to increased activity levels from large numbers of people in an enclosed space.

As we exercise, we breathe more heavily and this results in higher levels of carbon dioxide being released into the air around us. Without adequate gym ventilation, the lack of oxygen in the air we’re trying to breathe means that we’re likely to get breathless more quickly, and therefore become far more tired – and in some cases nauseous – a lot quicker than we would if exercising in a well-ventilated facility. If we’re tired, we’re more likely to become disillusioned by exercising and, without pointing out the obvious, people that don’t want to exercise don’t really need gym memberships. Getting your gym ventilation right is protecting your business’s revenue.

One Size Doesn’t Fit All

When you think of the types of heating, ventilation or air conditioning (HVAC) systems you might find in a gym or health club, your mind would probably steer clear of the “heating” option - unless in a sauna or steam room, of course. The real heavyweights for the fitness industry are air conditioning units and fans, but we can’t expect to choose one type of equipment and have it service the entire facility.

Whilst main exercise rooms could largely get by with air conditioning units, set at one temperature for the whole room, the same can’t be said when looking at rooms of varying sizes which may also be expected to hold different numbers of people, exercising for various lengths of time. A free-weights room, for example, is likely to operate at a far different people-density than what a spinning or yoga studio would. A fitness facility fan is a flexible option for regulating the air flow in these rooms, and keeping them ventilated, as and when they are in use.

There are then the washing and changing facilities, inclusive of showers, which also contribute further different contaminants to the air within the building. It’s unlikely that you’d choose have some sort of large, portable gym fan sat on the floor of a changing room, but it’s worth considering a ventilation extraction system for these areas. This type of unit helps to remove excess humidity from the air, which in turn reduces the likelihood of bacteria building up in the form of mould or mildew.

If we take a look at the impact that mould can have on our health, the symptoms should be more than enough to encourage you to focus on some sort of fitness facility fan or ventilation system, when considering the wellbeing of your customers. Symptoms of mould exposure can include:

  • Coughing, sneezing or postnasal drip
  • A runny or stuffy nose
  • Itchy, watery or sore eyes, nose and/or throat
  • Fatigue
  • Dry, scaly skin

Not the sort of issues you want to be dealing with when trying to put in a personal best on your deadlift.

Cleaning

Many fitness industry business owners attribute the low transmission rates to the increased cleaning processes, including more frequent cleaning, as well as using stronger products – and a lot more of them.

As we’ve mentioned previously, cleaning products contain many harmful chemicals which can also have a detrimental impact on people’s health. So, whilst it’s great to see so many gyms taking cleanliness even more seriously than they usually do, it’s even more important to ensure that adequate ventilation is in place to help dilute any contaminated air particles. This is not just important for the millions of members, but perhaps even more so for the 713,000 health and fitness club employees in the USA, too.

Social Distancing

In addition to great ventilation and frequent cleaning, it is still very much advised that social distancing is still practiced and, where possible, those who decide to get back into the gym are wearing masks when they can.

But of course, with mask-wearing comes those who declare that they find it more difficult to breathe when having to wear one. So if it wasn’t already imperative to ensure that you’re achieving maximum gym ventilation in your establishment, increasing your customer’s chances of exercising behind a mask, comfortably, is certainly one way to safeguard your business – and the wellbeing of your visitors – as we continue to navigate life with COVD-19.

And remember: 12% of new joiners to a gym, sign-up in January. So there’s still time to get your ventilation in order before your first post-COVID peak hits. Get in touch with us today to find out how we can help.


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