Opinion

When Someone Tests Positive at Your Gym: Two Owners Share Their Thoughts

It might be a matter of when, not if, say owners who have experienced Covid-19 at their gyms.

On Thursday, June 18, it happened: Rudy Trevino, the owner of the Fit Stop in San Antonio, Texas found out one of his members had tested positive for Covid-19.

“We didn’t know what to do,” he admitted.

[Editor’s Note: The articles on BarBend are meant to be informative in nature but should not replace the directives from local, national, and international medical authorities. The thoughts expressed by the gym owners below are their personal opinions and do not necessarily reflect the most up to date health guidelines. In many areas, gyms remain closed and should not reopen until directed to by the relevant authorities.

It’s important to follow best practices as mandated by the relevant authorities in your city, state, and country. This includes regulations regarding gym closures.]

Considering all of his coaches had been around the infected member in recent days, they decided to close their doors and get tested. They received their test results on Sunday—all negative—and re-opened Monday morning.

Trevino admits that he made a couple of mistakes. For one, he let everyone know in their private group that there had been a Covid exposure, and that “we would be going back 10 days and notifying anyone that had been in class with (the member),” he said.

In hindsight, he believes this was the wrong way to do it, because every member spent their day refreshing their email, yet those who weren’t exposed to the infected member never received an email, so it created needless stress.

While nobody else in his community caught the virus (that he knows) directly from that first member, in recent days, Trevino has had three other members become infected. Each time, he has gone to get tested, and each time he has been negative—even after he was “down wind” in the gym from one of the infected members, and went on a run with the two other infected members.

Trevino Gym

Trevino’s Thoughts

1. Airflow

“Not just moving air, but air that comes in and gets pulled out,” he said. He suspects the good airflow in his facility may have prevented him from catching the virus. (It’s worth emphasizing he doesn’t know for sure.) 

His building has three big bay doors to help air flow, and he also installed two industrial-sized exhaust fans on the opposite sides of the bay doors, he explained. 

“Our air is exchanged every 90 seconds. Probably even faster, because the formula for figuring that out doesn’t consider open doors like we have,” he added.

2. Keep Taking Distancing Seriously

Quarantine or testing is recommended when you have been within six feet of someone for 15 minutes or more, Trevino explained.

“This doesn’t happen in our gym because we have everyone spaced out 10 feet,” he said. Again, he thinks this might have played a role in why he hasn’t caught Covid.

“Keep people separated in an organized way because they won’t do it themselves. It’s much easier to track who was close to someone when you do it this way,” he added.

3. Transparency

Simply put, let your members know the moment you find out someone tested positive and be as transparent about the situation as you can, he said.

[Related: Listen to our interview with Jason Khalipa on the future of fitness beyond Covid-19.]

Covid at SparFit in Arizona

Will Hurst, the owner of SparkFit in Phoenix, Arizona agrees with Trevino. He, too, recently had a member who works as a nurse catch the virus, and he, too, let people know as soon as he could.

His member was asymptomatic, and he didn’t find out until four days after she discovered she had tested positive. Because of this, Hurst decided to keep his doors open, and all of his coaches decided to get tested. They were all negative. (Editor’s Note: Asymptomatic carriers may still be able to spread Covid-19.)

And like Trevino, Hurst let his community know right away to make sure everyone was “100 percent in the loop,” he said. He also let everyone know this member had attended the Monday noon class in case anyone wanted to get tested.

The biggest key for Hurst was to react “calmly and confidently” and avoid taking “the doom and gloom approach” so as to freak members out, he explained.

It wasn’t a surprise that someone caught Covid, he said, nor did he believe it require an emergency-type of reaction.

He warns gym owners that they, too, are likely to have to deal with the situation in the future, since Covid doesn’t appear to be going away.

“It’s not about whether or not it does show up…It’s only a matter of time before it happens at your gym…(and) it’s how you handle it when it does,” he said. “Proceed with life and business as if you know it’s going to happen.”

Editor’s note: This article is an op-ed. The views expressed herein and in the video are the author’s and don’t necessarily reflect the views of BarBend. Claims, assertions, opinions, and quotes have been sourced exclusively by the author.

Images courtesy Rudy Trevino