A study of gym visit data from the United States suggests that health clubs and fitness facilities are not contributing to the spread of COVID-19.
The debate about what venues and activities are the least likely to offer COVID-19 exposure, and which ones provide the most risk, has been a hot topic since early spring.
IHRSA and MXM just released a simple, yet eye-opening, study that shows gyms don't appear to be contributing to the spread of COVID-19. This study goes in line several other studies that have been conducted since the outbreak of COVID-19, most recently the study conducted by UK trade body, ukactive, which found an estimated 0.020 positive cases per 10,000 gym visits.
THE REPORT MECHANISM
The study was undertaken by member experience specialist, MXM and IHRSA, examined and compared member check-in data (i.e. the number of gym visits) from various operators across the United States including major players like Planet Fitness, Anytime Fitness, Life Time, and Orangetheory.
Over the course of the study, clubs provided their total check-ins and number of locations across all states, as well as self-reported on the total number of positive COVID-19 cases documented between employees and members who had been in their clubs.
In total, the report analyzed data from 49.4 million member check-ins from May 1 to August 6 at nearly 3,000 gyms and fitness facilities across the United States and studied the “visit-to-virus” ratio data from health and fitness clubs. What they found was a scant 0.0023% of members included tested positive for COVID-19 with no evidence that those few cases originated in health clubs.
One reason for the impressive numbers is that fitness centers who follow strict safety and cleaning protocols seem to be extremely safe.
ATTENTION TO CLEANLINESS
Strict attention to sanitization and cleanliness is essential to help ensure that facilities pose as little risk as possible. Related studies, such as the Life Fitness COVID-19 Exerciser Survey found that clubgoers pay great attention to the safety and hygiene protocols being in place and adhered to. In that survey, 48% of exercisers listed "sanitation and cleanliness" as the most important protective guidelines in a facility, and 21% listed "safety protocols" as what they're most concerned with.
The exercisers perception coincides with the results of the study which Brent Darden, IHRSA interim president and CEO sums up as follows: "The data shows that, with proper sanitization protocols in place, people can safely return to their workout routines. Working out has never been more important to help boost immunity and improve mental health. It's time to acknowledge that gyms are safe,"
THE ROLE OF FITNESS IN HEALTH
Within its overall framework, the IHRSA study also leaned on statistics from the CDC about the positive effect that physical activity has on the body and brain. When in the middle of a public health crisis, these numbers are a stark reminder of how important fitness is to the general wellbeing of the public.
Overall, these results are encouraging and show that the industry is on the right path.
Provided appropriate social distancing and hygiene measures are followed, gyms should be able to operate safely. Luckily, these measures are relatively inexpensive to implement, but they require vigilance from staff to ensure members are following safety protocols.
Source: IHRSA and MXM