Navigating The Face Mask Question At Your Fitness Facility

Restrictions, messaging and compliance surrounding face masks has been less than consistent across the country. Some fitness facilities don’t require a mask at all, some only when you are checking in and out or when you are in common areas and can’t maintain 6 feet distance, and others require them at all times, even during exercise.

As a fitness business owner I have been doing my best to keep up with the regulations and recommendations in our state and what other fitness organizations are doing across the country. This topic is ever changing and evolving, as most things are currently in our world! Because of this, we have had to remain willing to adapt and change our policies.

I recently wrote a blog post about whether or not clients should wear face masks while exercising. I cover the possible effects of wearing a face mask while exercising and some of the face mask options that may be best for exercise.

Currently, in the state of Washington, we are allowed to remove our masks during exercise as long as we can maintain 6 feet distance from others.

Recommendations and regulations continue to evolve and I am in regular communication with our Governor’s office to assure we have all the up-to-date current information and can better navigate how we answer the “mask” question with our clients.

As it is with all fitness business owners and managers….the health and safety of our clients and staff is my top priority. Since there has been more and more emphasis put on wearing masks, but many have a hard time tolerating wearing cloth face masks during exercise, I decided to go to the source and ask our governor’s office their recommendation for Face Shields (plastic shields) and whether they would be appropriate usage for our clients and team members and here was the response we received.

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Here is a summary of what our Governor’s office is advising when it comes to indoor fitness activities, cloth face coverings and face shields:

If the instructor is a personal trainer engaging in one-on-one training with a client in which social distancing cannot be maintained: this is not allowed under current guidance. They should maintain distance and wear a face covering.

If the instructor is leading a small class (5 or fewer people) and six feet social distancing is being maintained, and the instructor is NOT engaged in aerobic activity: they need to wear, at a minimum, a cloth face covering. A face shield is not a substitute for a cloth face covering.

The instructor is leading a small class (5 or fewer people) and IS engaged in aerobic activity: it is not appropriate for the instructor to wear a face covering, but it is recommended that more than six feet of distance be maintained at all times. I

If the instructor is not wearing a face covering, we assume it is because they are engaged in aerobic activity. If that is the case, the face shield is better than nothing, but they should also employ other measures, such as increasing social distance, face away from the class, open windows to increase ventilation, etc. What is appropriate really depends on the activity and the facility.

I encourage you to reach out to your local governor or mayor to find out what your specific area is recommending when it comes to indoor fitness activities and face masks. Then share that information with your clients and staff. Be clear about the practices you will follow at your fitness facility. Be ready for change, be diligent and hopefully we can all stay healthy and fit together.

Yours in health, fitness & business,
Sherri McMillan

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