Can you imagine this little creature lurking on the handlebars and resistance dial of bikes in your cycle studio? It is coronavirus, but it could just as well be other viruses. One of your riders, not knowing it, has a virus—they cough, projecting the virus onto their bike. When that person leaves, microscopic droplets containing the virus stay behind. The virus sits there and can last for 24 hours on hard surfaces. The next person who hops on the bike and touches this surface picks up the virus on their hands, then they scratch their nose or rub their eyes. This is how viruses spread.
“Eyes, nose, mouth—all those mucous membranes are the portal into the body for a virus like Covid-19 or SARS,” said Mary-Louise McLaws, professor of epidemiology, health care infection, and infectious diseases control at the University of New South Wales in Sydney, Australia. Studies show the average person touches their mouth, eyes, or nose 23 times per hour! In a cycling class it’s likely higher, given all the times riders wipe off sweat and cough.
Now is not the time to panic, but it is a good time to remind your riders of practices that should be routine to help maintain a healthy environment for yourself and others in the cycling studio and the gym in general:
- Clean all fitness equipment and other frequently touched objects before and after every use. You can’t be sure the person who used the bike before you properly cleaned it.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water, and scrub for at least 20 seconds.
- Cover your mouth and nose with your bent elbow, tissue, or towel when you cough or sneeze. Then throw the tissue or towel directly into the garbage or laundry.
- Remember to stay home when you or a child are sick.
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
- As an instructor, use your own windscreen over the mic, and wipe down your headset, bike, and stereo equipment with alcohol wipes.
- Clubs and studios should ensure that towels used by staff for disinfectant wiping should be changed frequently.
Employees who handle towels or clean equipment should always wear gloves and be educated about safety when collecting towels and discarded tissues or paper towels found on the floor. It may also be a good idea to increase the frequency of cleaning the equipment in your gym or studio.
You don’t need to be a germaphobe to take these precautions. On the other hand, you don’t want to dismiss the need for these precautions because you think it might be over-reacting. It’s always best to hope for the best but prepare for the worst.
ADDENDUM BY JENNIFER SAGE
ICA editor Shari Miranda (from Seattle) mentioned that her club offers several circuit-type classes (not in the cycling studio but in the gym). They’ve temporarily changed the setup, making it so that everyone has their own work station rather than rotating around. That may be something to consider at your facility in the near-term if you offer circuit classes.
Also, remind participants to wipe down things they might not always bother to, like dumbbells or barbells, in addition to mats, benches, etc.
I am on the mailing list of numerous studios I’ve visited across the country. In just the past few days I’ve received several emails from studios that entreat their clientele to take precautions and stay at home if they feel sick while outlining the steps they are taking to keep the studio clean in order to assuage any fears their riders may have. This may help you keep numbers from dropping. Here are a few of the best excerpts from a few of these emails. I encourage your studio or club to first take these same cleanliness steps and then compile a similar email to your customer list or, at the very least, write it up and post it on the studio door.
- The health and safety of our riders and team members is always a priority for us and with growing concern around coronavirus, we’re taking extra measures to keep our studios clean and safe spaces for everyone.
- We thoroughly clean all surfaces (bikes, weights, floors, countertops, showers, etc.) between classes with a medical-grade cleaning solution that kills 99.99% of bacteria and viruses. We send all towels out for professional cleaning so that they’re properly sterilized. Our team always wears gloves when making smoothies, cleaning shoes, and collecting towels. You can also find hand sanitizer and disinfectant wipes around the studios.
- Currently, we provide ZOGICS/LYSOL disinfectant wipes to sanitize bikes and equipment in between each class, as well as conduct full-studio cleaning routines with medical-grade disinfectant twice daily. In addition to our regular cleaning protocol, the front desk daily disinfects and cleans other high-use common areas.
- As a courtesy to your fellow riders taking classes, we also ask that all members follow these best practices to keep yourself and others healthy. First and foremost, listen to your body. If you’re not feeling well, please stay home—that new PR score can wait. Just email your studio if you’re sick and need to reschedule.
- Wash your hands often with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds, especially after using the restroom, before eating, and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
- If you are returning from overseas or are feeling under the weather, please ensure your health before returning to (studio).
- (From a YMCA) You may be young and healthy and low-risk, but remember, your caution helps protect those who may be at higher risk. Let’s keep our entire community in mind as we take steps to minimize risk.
As original author, I have to say I was initially lulled into confidence in the efficacy of cleaning measures. While absolutely helpful, they measures don’t address risk of airborne virus spread. So I think the only reasonable precaution is canceling all group ex.
Thank you for this I have just sent an email to my riders, very similar to what you suggested.
Excellent, timely, and very helpful article! Thank you!