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This playbook is provided for Greater Des Moines (DSM) gyms, wellness and yoga studios and fitness centers. Please consult trusted resources specifically for the size and specialty of your facility.

Sample: 24/7 Fitness Center Risk Profile

Gyms Risk Profile Frequency

Gyms Risk Profile Duration

Gyms Risk Profile Variety

The sample risk profile has been determined for 24/7 fitness centers in DSM. The profile shows frequency, or how many people in a day; duration, or length of typical interaction; and variety, or the number of different people.*

Current Impact 

Current Impact

Future Trends 

Future Trends

Recommended Practices 

Recommended Practices

Community Partnership 

Community Partnerships

Additional Resources 

Additional Resources

Current Impact

As the pandemic spread and gyms and fitness clubs were forced to shut down, Americans seeking to reduce stress and stay fit looked for creative new ways to exercise and stay active at home. Consequently, purchases of fitness and sports equipment rose nearly 23% since the pandemic outbreak as consumers created makeshift gyms and turned to livestreaming classes as part of the new normal. Statistics have also reflected much higher engagement with a variety of health and fitness apps.

Gym Interest Increase

Home Fitness Interest
Increased 436%

Gym Large Chain Layoffs

98% Laid Off by
Large Chains

Gym App Downloads

Surge in Fitness App


Fitness facilities themselves, however, have suffered tremendous financial impact from the prolonged shutdown. Chains 24 Hour Fitness and Gold's Gym have filed for bankruptcy due to pandemic-related closures, and an April report from investment bank Piper Sandler said many of the country's 40,000 independently owned fitness studios "may not survive" shutdowns. There is no clear line of sight as to when member traffic levels will return to normal. According to a July Morning Consult poll, only 20% of Americans said they'd feel comfortable going to a gym. Another survey, conducted by market-research firm OnePoll, found that 25% of Americans never plan to go back. Thus, figuring out how to get consumers back to the gym after they've grown accustomed to working out at home is a top strategic priority. Moreover, facilities need to convince members that their spaces are safe and virus-free. Implementing smart scheduling and maintaining expanded online services, such as continuing virtual group exercise classes, are tactics that can be used to engage clients to restart or continue their memberships.

Future Trends

Gym Capacity

Limited Capacity

Prepare to operate with capacity constraints for social distancing requirements and frequent sanitation needs.

Gym Online Scheduling

Online Scheduling

Implement an online scheduling system that enables members to sign up for exercise time slots to reduce crowding.

Gym Virtual Classes

Expanded Online Classes & Personal Training

Recording virtual classes enables gyms to continue to provide services and generate membership revenue.

Gym Virtual Group Exercise

Online Group Exercise Classes

Virtual group activity promotes fitness and social connection, which can maintain positivity and membership through and beyond gym closures. Consider offering virtual programming for customers who aren't ready to return to the facility.

Recommended Practices

Health & Sanitation

  • Conduct a health screening with all employees before their shifts in accordance with the most up to date recommendations from the local public health department. 
  • Encourage employees who feel sick to stay home. Employees who have had close contact with someone with COVID-19 should take precautions, including self-quarantine, in accordance with CDC guidance.
  • Consider implementing health screening protocols for members as they enter the facility.
  • Staff and members who have a fever or other symptoms of COVID-19 should not be allowed to enter the facility.
  • Face masks and any other PPE should be worn by employees and members in accordance with the most up to date recommendations from the local public health department.
    • People two or older are required to wear a face mask or face covering, except when actively participating in exercise.
  • Train all employees on cleaning processes, hand hygiene and respiratory etiquette.
  • Have hand sanitizer, disinfecting wipes, soap and water or similar disinfectant readily available to employees and customers. Place at entrances and exits, exercise machines, fitness rooms, changing rooms, locker rooms and reception desks.
  • Strongly encourage members and staff to use hand sanitizer upon entering the facility and after completing their workout. 
  • Establish a housekeeping schedules that includes frequent cleaning and disinfecting of high-touch surfaces such as personal exercise machines and equipment, countertops, doorknobs, restrooms, shower and locker facilities and entrance/exit doors. 
  • Ask patrons to disinfect individual exercise equipment, mats and machines before and after use with provided disinfecting wipes. If members are unable or unwilling to wipe/disinfect equipment after exercise, provide “ready to clean” tags for members to place on equipment after use, to ensure equipment is disinfected by staff before the next use.
  • Require employees to comply with guidelines on sanitation from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the local public health department.

Gym Health

Process & Space Modifications

  • Only members that are actually exercising should be inside the facility. 
  • Ensure all equipment, such as treadmills, bikes, weight machines, benches and power racks, are spaced at least six feet apart or take other appropriate measures so closely spaced equipment is not all used at the same time.
  • Ensure physical distancing requirements in showers and locker room facilities by, for example, closing off certain lockers and/or showers. In proper distancing and sanitization is not possible, these facilities should remain closed.
  • Any group activities or classes must be limited to a number of people that permits maintaining a distance of six feet apart at all times.
  • If possible, consider hosting classes outdoors and/or continue to offer virtual classes for those who would rather workout at home.
  • Place tape on floors directing the flow of traffic and forming personal space zones.
  • Consider allowing members to reserve a time at the gym through online scheduling.
  • Establish pre-pay systems or self check-in and check-out systems. If a prepay system is not feasible, considering using a plexiglass partition between front desk staff and members.
  • Minimize sharing of work tools and equipment such as phones, keyboards, cash registers and point-of-sale devices. If sharing is necessary, disinfect equipment before and after each use.
  • Staff and patrons should avoid shaking hands, bumping fists or elbows or other physical contact.
  • Have clients bring their own water bottles and restrict water fountains to water bottle filling stations only.
  • Maximize airflow by opening windows or re-engineering HVAC systems. Place fans, if used to blow away from patrons or others.

Gym Facilities


  • Inform members of dues and fees incurred or waived during closure.
  • Provide reminders to employees and members of the public to stay at least six feet away from others when in the facility and mark six-foot intervals when possible.
  • Post signage at the door indicating no one should enter the establishment if they currently have symptoms or have been around anyone with a confirmed COVID-19 diagnosis in the last 14 days.
  • Post signage for employees and customers that outline good hygiene and safety measures being taken.

Gym Communication

Community Partnerships

Gym Employee Wellness

Employee Wellness

As employees continue to work from home, consider engaging employers in low-cost group memberships for their staff to access virtual services only. Companies may be more interested in offering such options as a benefit if their staff can no longer access onsite wellness facilities.

Additional Resources

Recommended Playbooks

The business function playbooks include takeaways that are specific to professional functions that could be present in any business, regardless of industry.

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*We note that these assessments are qualitative and based on expert-led judgment (Johns Hopkins, 2020). Currently, there are not enough detailed data available to enable quantitative risk stratification. Businesses will need to make decisions about re-initiating business activities before there are validated data to know the precise levels of risk.

Legal Disclaimer

The Greater Des Moines Partnership's DSM Forward playbook is not intended to constitute legal advice or provide specific direction. The preparation of a business continuity or preparations plan should be undertaken with the advice and direction of appropriate specialists and personnel, in consideration of the unique circumstances impacting each business. Third-party websites or material linked to or referenced in DSM Forward are for informational purposes only and do not constitute a recommendation of The Partnership of that material or its authors.

Last updated: 8/17/2020