Blog4 August 2020

Keeping gymnasiums safe, cool and legal in light of COVID-19 regulations

With gyms now allowed to reopen following the relaxation of lockdown restrictions, it is more important than ever to safeguard your members and ensure all facilities are complicit with guidance produced by National Governing Bodies.

The directives have been compiled with input from Sport England, Public Health England and the Health and Safety Executive and include advice on social distancing, ventilation requirements and the steps you can take to protect visitors and staff.

Air extraction and ventilatory measures are considered fundamentally important and feature prominently on the agenda to mitigate the transmission of COVID-19 and other airborne infections.

As part of this, ventilation into any gymnasium or leisure facility should be optimised to ensure a fresh air supply is available to all areas and increased wherever possible. Scientific research proves that high intensity exercise can increase the likelihood of a virus spreading, with operators advised to give particular attention to these indoor zones.

Capacities should be managed effectively, with the maximum occupancy of each gym limited by providing a minimum of 100 square feet per person. Reducing the volume of people in this way while sustaining ventilation flows will increase the typical current 10l/s/p (litres per second per person) flow of ventilation to at least 20l/s/p, due to fewer people being served by the ventilation system.

Additionally, you should also consider:

  • Increasing the existing ventilation rate by opening doors and doors and running fans on full speed
  • Operating your ventilation systems constantly
  • Increasing the frequency of filter changes
  • Ensuring that ventilation systems provide 100 per cent fresh air and not recirculated air from one indoor space to another.
  • For further information, consult the CIBSE COVID-19 Ventilation Guidance

In some situations, the use of CO2 sensors can be beneficial as a surrogate indicator to adopt additional mechanical ventilation if there are insufficient air changes. Updated regulations for indoor sport and exercise accommodation recommend at least six air changes per hour (ACH) for fitness spaces, eight ACH for aerobics and martial arts areas and 10 ACH for indoor cycling and running.

There is undoubtedly a delicate balance between gyms being able to offer customers full use of their normal services and ensuring that conditions are closely scrutinised to guarantee their well-being.

Gyms struggling to provide the required levels of ventilation can address the issue by temporarily deploying equipment to work on either a standalone or supplementary basis. Andrews’ ASF ventilation fans offer a robust yet reliable source of air circulation, with maximum airflows of up to 37,000m³/h.

These high capacity fans are a perfect solution for improving ventilation but also provide economical comfort cooling when functional. Available in either a 230V or 110V version, these cost-efficient units are incredibly easy to install and deliver flexible airflows via a variable speed fan.

Where good levels of ventilation exist, the use of evaporative coolers can also be an extremely effective method by which to prevent the transmission of COVID-19 while simultaneously providing cooling relief.

These units are designed to add moisture to the atmosphere and, in doing so, can help maintain relative humidity between the optimum 40-60% range advised by leading health organisations. It is universally accepted that the spread of viruses and bacteria is significantly less likely when RH is kept at this level, which is why the use of evaporative coolers is becoming more and more common.

This equipment can be used in conjunction with dedicated air cleaner units that have been specifically manufactured to intercept airborne particles and enhance air filtration. Our AC1600 features a G4-class coarse filter that captures and retains contaminants to improve indoor air quality, providing effective air purification to whichever indoor setting they are located in.

Elsewhere, our advanced AP103 units deliver clean and safe air by removing harmful impurities and neutralising them inside a built-in reactor chamber. These market-leading products incorporate core technology that has been tested against hazardous gases and voltaic organic compounds (VOCs), inactivating bacteria, infections and diseases.

With the onus on gyms to conform to new business terms and ensure their premises are as safe as possible for those on site, now is the time to act. Continuous fresh air ventilation, higher airflow volumes, closely controlled relative humidity and purification equipment will all contribute to reducing potential risks and creating a secure environment – and we can help you achieve this.