Five Steps to a Cleaner Health Club


This article originally appeared in the September issue of Athletic Business. Athletic Business is a free magazine for professionals in the sports, fitness and leisure industry. Click here to subscribe.

I don’t know if there’s anything less exciting for a club owner or manager – or any staff member, for that matter – than cleaning. But there are few things more important to your customers than the cleanliness of your club. So how do we keep our club perfectly clean? Here are five steps.

1. Put someone in charge of cleaning.
This “go to” person will design cleaning schedules (how often is the pool vacuumed?), regularly inspect the club to ensure the cleaning schedule is being followed, monitor and order more supplies, and ensure follow up with any staff member who is not fulfilling their responsibilities.

2. Make sure everyone is involved in keeping the club clean.
Your closing staff may be tasked with vacuuming various parts of the club, coaches may be tasked with wiping down equipment during the slower afternoon hours, and all staff should ensure the club is n ain’t messy.

There is a big difference between messy and dirty. Dirty means floors haven’t been vacuumed, shower stalls have soap scum, and there’s dust on equipment frames. Messy means someone threw a paper towel on the floor, there’s water all over the top of the sink, or the dumbbells haven’t been put away.

I’m not a fan of “employees only” locker rooms/bathrooms. If your staff are forced to use the regular locker room, they’ll notice if it’s messy (and hopefully pick up that paper towel), if the soap dispensers need refilling, and if you’re out of toilet paper (members really hate it) .

3. Hold staff members accountable.
If something has not been done, we find out why. Our opening attendant came on a Monday morning to find that the club had obviously not been thoroughly cleaned the night before. I called our Sunday employee to find out why. She said two people came to register as members late in the day. By the time she was done with them it was already after hours and she quickly cleaned up a bit but didn’t want to work “overtime”. I told her that I appreciated her concern for our budget and that she had done well to focus on new members. But in the future, if something like this happens again, I’d be happy to pay her for her extra time.

4. Cover cleaning procedures when training new employees.
We include instructions on what cleaning solution to use for what job, how to vacuum, where we keep cleaning supplies, and more. staff members who thought it was enough to vacuum the carpet. I explained that the idea was to clean the carpet. So if the vacuum bag is full and not picking up dirt from the floor, stop and change the vacuum bag.

5. Develop detailed checklists for each part of the club.
Involve your staff members in this process. They may think of things you haven’t done, and if they’ve been involved in the process, they’re more likely to agree that it all works. If everyone does a little work on it every day, your facility will always be clean.

Spot cleaning: Rob’s recommendations

Lobby: This is the first impression a potential member has of your club. It should be vacuumed more than once a day. All surfaces should be wiped down several times a day. Our day staff clean before leaving so the club is clean not only when it opens but also for evening members arriving at 5pm.

Cloakrooms: The hardest area to keep clean – by far. Wetlands should be monitored throughout the day. Did the water aerobics class leave pools of standing water on the tiles? It needs to be cleaned. We also have a “you found it, you fix it” rule at our club. If the toilet is clogged, YOU (the Owner or General Manager or Group Fitness Instructor) are responsible for cleaning it.

Work out room: This field presents unique challenges. Vacuuming or mopping may require moving and lifting heavy weights. If you have a staff member who cannot lift these weights, you need to factor that into your cleaning schedule. Here’s a tip: Take a few minutes to show your staff how the vacuum cleaner attachments work, so they can get into and around small areas. (“Oh, that’s why!”)

Cardio room: Sweat is a big concern. If you have hard surface floors (wood, tile, rubber mats), cleaning with a disinfectant works well. Carpeting, on the other hand, will absorb sweat, be susceptible to mildew and odors, and will likely require regular steam cleaning. And be sure to develop specific instructions on how to clean your cardio equipment to mitigate the risk of damaging the components. Never spray liquid on the screen of a treadmill, for example. Spray the cloth first, then wipe the screen.

Group fitness room: The floor must be dry cleaned after each lesson, or at least after the last morning lesson and the last evening lesson. It should be mopped with a damp mop, depending on your usage, at least once a week. What about those yoga mats that everyone uses? Do not clean them. Throw them away and have everyone bring their own!

Nursery: You need to keep it extraordinarily clean, but don’t use harsh cleaners. Carpet is more comfortable for children, but more difficult to clean, while hard floors are easier to disinfect. How often should you clean toys by soaking them in a mild solution? This can be once a day during cold and flu season and once a week during the slower summer months.

Pool: Treated water, heat and humidity make this another area where cleanliness is a constant battle. Much of the pool cleaning may need to be done before or after closing. (You can’t have swimmers in the pool when you’re vacuuming.) Take preventive measures. The only thing that can be brought onto our pool deck is water in a plastic bottle. Glass containers are not permitted under any circumstances. Likewise, we do not allow any type of food on the pool deck.

This article originally appeared in the September 2016 issue of Athletic Affairs with the title “Cleanliness is next to Robliness”


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