12 Tips on Re-opening of Yoga and Pilates Studios in a Safe COVID Environment
Believe in good times ahead as your yoga studios are reopening after restrictions due to the pandemic of COVID19. As a yoga teacher or yoga studio owner or any fitness yoga class instructor what you need to remember is that COVID 19 is not yet completely gone and you need to take extra precaution and know the safe COVID environment. Here are some of the tips on the re-opening of Yoga studios in a safe COVID environment. These tips follow the guidelines of the Australian health department.
1. Increase cleaning
Though I know you all tend to make your environment clean but now you need to make this activity in a more enhanced way.
This means you need to increase cleaning on daily basis.
- Make hand sanitizers available to all entering your yoga studio or yoga class. Be it your yoga teacher, student or any staff you want to encourage them to use sanitizer at all times. If you cannot afford so many hand sanitizers then best is to keep soap and water solution or any other such handwash to clean the hands.
- Secondly, avoid taking cash for bookings. In fact using an online booking system allows you to transact online for your payments, otherwise, also cash should not be handled physically.
- PPE to be made available for all staff and teachers including masks, sanitizers, and gloves. Gloves be it disposable gloves or cloth gloves are to be encouraged when touching yoga equipment or yoga mats. Even yoga teachers should use a glove when handling yoga students to teach a particular yoga asana. Remember to discard your disposable gloves once used. Cloth gloves should be washed regularly with a disinfectant soap and dried under the sun.
- At your yoga reception counter regularly clean and disinfect telephones, keyboards, receptions desks, and anything that staff or yoga students commonly touch.
- Flooring, couches, and other furniture used at yoga studios should be regularly cleaned.
- Provide clear instructions to staff and teachers on what is expected in terms of hygiene and distancing practices at the facility
- It is good practice to routinely clean frequently touched surfaces with a detergent solution and Clean general surfaces and fittings when visibly soiled and immediately after any spillage.
2. Yoga mats and props BYO policy
Yoga mats should be cleaned and disinfected as well. Encourage Bring Your Own Mat policy for all students as well as teachers. The mats brought by students should be dust free and cleaned thoroughly. In fact, the yoga mats should be covered with a towel or sheet if possible to use barriers if the studio provides them so that there is less chance of them being dirty. You can clean the covers and sheets on a daily basis after use. This means you need to clean the mats and props, vacuum them, disinfect after each use and allow to dry. Remember cleaning reduces the soil load, allowing the disinfectant to work.
It’s better to provide antibacterial wipes to all at the yoga studio or fitness center. You can post a sign in the washroom reminding each to wash hands. Clean all surfaces in your studio multiple times a day and reduce the number of props in your studio. If you offer tea or water in your studio use disposable cups or even better, ask people to bring their own.
3. No shared equipment unless disinfected between uses
At yoga studios especially the Pilates and fitness centers where you need to use various equipment and handle different machines at gyms, you need to be extra safe. Choose places where there is limited sharing of items and where any items that are shared are thoroughly cleaned and disinfected between uses. You can also choose to visit places that share, post, or announce that they have increased cleaning and disinfection to protect others from COVID-19.
Ensure that all the equipment is clean and disinfected. Wipe down machines and equipment with disinfecting wipes and use hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol before using machines. Do not share items that cannot be cleaned, sanitized, or disinfected between use, such as resistance bands and weightlifting belts. Don’t shake hands, give high-fives, do elbow bumps, or touch others because close contact increases the risk of acquiring COVID-19.
4. Safety Measures
There are several safety measures to follow as per the guidelines of NSW government:
- As community becomes more active and gets back to business, it’s important that you follow the rules about gatherings, self-isolation and quarantine
- Maintain a physical distance of at least 1.5 metres from others
- Practise good hand hygiene
- Stay active and healthy
- Take extra care if you’re around vulnerable people
- Get tested if you have any symptoms, even if they are only mild
- Follow NSW Health advice about staying home while you are waiting for test results.
Take certain precautions when handling students. Send an email to your students reminding them to stay home if they are unwell. Post a notice on the door requesting students not enter if they are unwell. Remind students of cough and sneeze etiquette before each class. Encourage everyone to look out for each other and be understanding and kind.
Monitor reports from government organizations regularly. The information is changing daily. Also, ensure that your sick leave policies are flexible and consistent with public health guidance.
Encourage staff to take the day off if they are sick and communicate with your staff and keep them updated on what is happening in the studio. Also manage confidentiality for those who have contracted the coronavirus.
Yoga teachers should follow certain safety measures too. If you are not well don’t teach, avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth. Seek support from your friends and community and avoid doing partner work in your classes
5. Hygiene stations
As far cleaning is necessary have a Hygiene Station where there is available disinfectant and paper towel, or wipes for cleaning hand sanitiser If the space has two doors, and back to back classes, designate one “Entry” and the other “Exit” to facilitate social distancing .
Ensure time is allocated between classes for appropriate cleaning of the teaching space. Clean teaching space after each class including floors, doors and chairs etc used for yoga. Ensure staff and teachers do not attend the facility if they show symptoms of Covid19.
Empower staff and teachers to ask yoga students to not practice if they are showing symptoms. Cordon off of any common areas and seating where students, staff and teachers would normally congregate.
6. Staff should undertake Australian Government training modules on COVID-19
As a yoga studio owner, your staff should have undertaken Australian Government training modules on COVID-19. The module completion certificate should be a requirement for relevant support staff before returning on site to training facilities which include yoga studios and fitness centres. This module provides education material to promote required behaviors (e.g. regular and thorough handwashing, covering mouth and nose with a tissue or sleeve during coughing/sneezing).
Advice for people at risk of coronavirus (COVID-19) and display appropriate education material within sporting environments and facilities. Suggested Australian Government and WHO resources ask for good hygiene practices posters for businesses, hand washing guidance, avoiding sharing of drink bottles, and towels. Also avoid sharing mats, or equipment without an appropriate cleaning protocol, in between training sessions. Recommend high performance/professional athletes and other personnel download the Australian Government COVID-19 contact tracking app (COVIDSafe), to reduce the risk of COVID-19 spread to the community.
7. Cash-free purchases
As said above cash-free purchases should be encouraged. You need to avoid handling cash and coins and insist on digital or online payment modes. Remember that Coronavirus is spreading via cough droplets, not from using publicly handled things like cash, but cash can contain viruses as we touch them with hands. Like clothes or shopping bags you are holding the same goes for touching cash.
There is little and inconclusive evidence on how long the virus can last on surfaces, but this much is known that this duration depends on the nature of the surface. So, keep your coins and notes separately and avoid mixing them during the transaction as well. If you need to handle cash then the use of gloves is a must.
8. 1.5m distance between workout stations
Social distancing is to be maintained at all times. Be it at your yoga studio reception counter or at yoga class you need to maintain 1.5m distance between workout stations.
Class sizes at indoor fitness activities will be capped at 10 people while the maximum of 100 people will be allowed in large gyms. Indoor pools and saunas, as well as tattoo and massage parlours will be allowed to reopen, with restricted numbers.
You need to apply the 4 Square meter rule. The 4 square metre rule helps to determine the maximum number of people allowed on the premises or attending an event. It does not determine the distance between people. Physical distancing means reducing the close physical contact we have with one another and staying 1.5 metres away from people you don’t live with.
Under clause 8 of the public health order, occupiers and operators of the premises
- must not allow persons to enter or stay on the premises (whether outdoor or indoor) if the size of the premises is insufficient to allow for 4 square metres of space for each person
- must not allow 100 or more people to enter and stay on indoor premises at the same time (the 100 person rule), and
- must not allow 500 or more people to enter and stay on outdoor premises at the same time (the 500 person rule).
These rules do not apply to premises that are places of residence or certain essential gatherings.
9. More signs
More signs are required at your venue so that people are reminded then and again to adopt safe and clean environment. Provide clear instructions on what is expected in terms of hygiene, distancing practices and cough/sneeze etiquette at the facility eg post signs in toilets, at reception and teaching space.
All yoga students to register attendance at each class for “contact tracking”. Noncontact preferable eg electronic advanced class sign up. At washrooms and change, rooms ensure a sufficient supply of handwashing products and paper towels with supporting signage encouraging use of the same.
10. Additional time between classes
You need to ensure time is allocated between classes for appropriate cleaning of the teaching space. This additional time between classes helps you clean teaching space after each class including floors, doors and chairs, etc used for yoga.
Also, you need time as toilet rooms to be cleaned multiple times a day depending on student patronage with a disinfectant cleaner, disposable paper towel, and gloves. Chairs used for teaching yoga need to have surfaces able to be cleaned ie no fabric. All this shows you need to have a short group of students with more time in between classes to disinfect everything in your studio.
11. Temperature checks
Temperature checks should be regularly conducted at your yoga studio for staff as well as students. This temperature checks should be undertaken right at the entrance. Temperature guns can be purchased online for temperature checks.
Also if any student or staff has any symptom such as difficulty breathing, call 000 for urgent medical help. The Symptoms include: fever, coughing, sore throat and shortness of breath. If you are sick and think you might have COVID-19, check your symptoms using healthdirect’s Coronavirus (COVID-19) Symptom Checker.
12. A Booking System in place as turning up ad hoc could cause overcrowding
Booking of your yoga classes is mandatory. This means you as a yoga studio owner or yoga student need to use an online booking system to book yoga classes in advance. As there is a limitation to the number of students in a single yoga class the booking system is a must. There are many best online booking systems to use including KRIYA online booking system which caters to local studios and fitness centers in Australia.
Many studio owners have appreciated this move to make bookings mandatory. At Elixr in Bondi Junction, general manager Sue-Anne Chew said online bookings would be mandatory to manage capacity, especially for their popular pilates reformer classes. According to her whatever rules the studio will adapt to so that members can come back to their sanctuary as soon as possible.
Among the changes, yoga students will need to bring their own mats, while studios that usually hold up to 24 reformer beds will be spaced out and thoroughly cleaned after use, even encroaching on other areas of the club.
Outdoor boot camps are already permitted in NSW with restricted numbers, and one-on-one personal training sessions in outdoor open spaces were never banned as part of the coronavirus social-distancing measures.
Follow the above tips on re-opening of Yoga studios in a safe covid environment. Finally remember you need to stay up-to-date on the coronavirus outbreak and there is currently no treatment for COVID-19.