Efforts to combat ’corona kilos’ in gym cleaning

29th of October 2020 Article by Lotte Printz
Efforts to combat ’corona kilos’ in gym cleaning

A look at how gyms in Denmark are being cleaned post-lockdown from ECJ’s Lotte Printz.

“Keep away from the gyms,” a Danish virologist proclaimed shortly after Danish society went into lockdown on March 11. Heavy breathing and people standing close when exercising. A week later all gyms in Denmark were forced to close and had to stay so for the following three months, obviously putting great strain on the gyms’ finances, but also on bathroom scales!

Various parties were eager for people to ‘pump iron’ again, for financial and health. But how should gyms help us shift those ‘corona kilos’ we may have gained during lockdown while not being infected with Covid-19 in the process?

When the Danish government decided to allow gyms and similar leisure facilities to re-open June 8, two months prior to the original plans, the guidelines were clear: besides giving fewer people access and allowing each individual more space, cleaning of the facilities and various surfaces had to be intensified.

And the gyms seem to be taking matters seriously. Some have placed sinks in their entrance areas or hand sanitisers that can also be seen next to equipment. Some have cleaning taskforces and most say they have at least doubled their cleaning and wipe machines every time someone has used it. “I clean constantly,” as one gym staff member put it!

The family-owned cleaning company Anders Andersens Rengøring has cleaning contracts with 11 large companies that have in-house gym facilities for employees to use and the cleaning company to clean. They too were closed during lockdown, and their re-opening has changed cleaning practices.

“From cleaning the facilities perhaps once a week or just once a month in pre-corona times, we now have what we call ‘hygiene watches’ twice a day, mornings and evenings, when we disinfect washrooms, doorknobs and metal surfaces, but we also continue cleaning with water and soap,” head of the Jutland departments in Vejle and Aarhus, Jan Kousgaard, explains.

The cleaning company has not gained more customers after gyms re-opened, but current customers with gyms have asked for upgrades. And more importantly perhaps, this crisis has strengthened the cleaning company’s relationship with its customers: “It has certainly benefitted our cooperation. We were there when they needed us, and it also gave us this sense of being ‘in this together’ to make sure things are done responsibly,” Kousgaard says.

He is full of respect for those companies’ handling of the situation and thinks the employees can not only feel safe using their company gym, but also proud to work for a company that takes such responsibility.

In Aarhus, Denmark’s second city, shared responsibility is also very much of the essence to keep the coronavirus away. When the indoor gyms were closed, the mayor decided to seal off the municipality’s 25 outdoor fitness parks. Mainly as an appeal to its citizens’ community spirit, as the ‘barrier’ could easily be broken.

The ‘barriers’ were taken down at the same time as the indoor fitness facilities were allowed to ‘re-open’ in June, and even with infection figures on the rise after the holidays, the approach remains unchanged: citizens have a joint responsibility and the municipality trusts the users with the sanitising – with signs placed at the facilities to remind them.

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