Considerations When Looking to Reopen Your Weight Room

[0:01] Hey everybody, Jeff Reinardy, Winona State University Strength and Conditioning Coach. Hey, we’re a couple of months into this pandemic at this point. And we’re finally getting to that point where we’re starting to see some of the restrictions ease in some of the states. Minnesota is getting close, as well as several others in the surrounding area. And that starts to bring up some questions for us as we try to decide how we’re going to go about doing our opening, when that might be, and all those types of things. So, I’ve got some thoughts that we’ve jotted down—things that we’re thinking about as we try to transition into, hopefully, an opening of some sort.

Communication is #1 Priority

[0:33] The first thing you need to make sure of is that everybody’s on the same page. I know a lot of people are receiving guidance from the state level on down, make sure that the state level, the school administration, the athletic director, the coaches, everybody’s kind of on the same page. I think, before you start to move forward, you don’t want to jump into something where other people might have some reservations or questions. Make sure that those types of things get ironed out on the front end so everybody’s on the same page as you try to move into shifting individuals back into your fitness facilities.

A Phase Approach

[1:02] The next thing is, does it need to be a phased approach? We’ve recently put together for Winona State University a four-phase approach as to what things might look like. At first, we have the reins kind of tight, and then we start to loosen them up as the phases move forward as the months move along and as we see how things are progressing. So always have that in mind that you can move forward. You also have the ability to step back, but you want to make sure that everybody’s on the same page, everything’s moving in the direction that you would like it to. So that’s the first couple of things.

How Do the Parents Feel

[1:30] A couple other things—as you do open and you say, “okay, green light, here we go, let’s get cooking,” are athletes still going to be willing to come in right away? And that really starts with the parents. A lot of the people that we end up speaking to through this are in high schools. And so, we have to make sure that our parents are feeling comfortable with what we have in place to keep their son or daughter safe, healthy, all those types of things. So, make sure that that information is being shared out with all your parents all everybody, guardians etc. who need to be notified.

Space Limitations

[2:03] Then, we start getting into the nuts and bolts of it. You start with, okay, my facility. Is everything spaced properly for it? Everybody has a different size facility and I think the size matters. We fortunately we’ve got a pretty good-sized facility so we could handle up to a pretty big number of individuals. Most of our racks and platforms are already about a 10-foot-on-center separation. So logistically with the six-foot rule in place rule in quotations, we literally could put someone one person in each one of our racks and or platforms, but is that how we want to start? You know, do we want to have every other one? Whatever that might look like make sure you kind of have that thought through and how they might go about that.

Cleaning Protocols

[2:46] The second thing is the cleaning protocols, what type of sterilization or cleaning protocols do you have in place? You can let the student know you can let them know well I advise that you do let them know and they can be a part that system as well.

If we’re we’ve got a group and the group will last X amount of time, let’s say an hour, once that hour is gone, they’re in their one spot for that hour, doing the workout, take out all the cleaning material, get everything cleaned up that at least is a good start. Obviously want to come back and do some more cleaning posts that maybe that grouping in there, but at least that will help you get a good start.

Face masks, social distancing, how do we go about that? We have a lot what I call like pinch points or crowd points. You’re coming in doors, you’re exiting doors, you have bathrooms, those types of things. You have to look at how that might affect how you’re going to open and how you’re going to take care of those things as well.

Inside or Outside Practices

[3:38] Other aspects are you going to be inside or outside? Part of the things that we generally or typically have done have been indoors where we do our typical lifting, then we go outdoors, and we’ve done some of our running aspects. Obviously outdoors, you got a much greater expanse of land, area, whatever the case might be. Can you bring some of your indoor stuff and do a little bit more of your lifting outdoors? Can that equipment shift be made properly, appropriately? Can you design workouts that are still highly effective, yet take place completely outside? That might alleviate some of your spacing issues that can alleviate a lot of different things. So again, you have to look at how that might matter.

Will Masks be Required

[4:16] Another thing is, is everybody going to wear a mask? Everybody’s not going to be required to wear a mask? If you require them are you providing those types of things? So you got to remember, if you’re going to require, you might need to be able to provide for individuals who either don’t have access to it, whatever the case might be, they forget, you know how students can be so all those things, if it’s required, we’ll need to make sure that it is on hand for us to be able to hand out cleaning supplies, a lot of hand sanitizers, washing hands, all those types of things. So, as you start to move through this and progress through this, everybody, I think is still trying to figure it all out.

I know we certainly are, but I just wanted to throw some of those initial questions that are going to start coming out, communicate what you’re going to do with the group that you’re going to need to be in touch with. And again, make sure that that is from the very top all the way down, make sure your parents understand where you’re at, along with your student athletes, and so they feel comfortable starting to come back.

Starting the Conversation

[5:13] This is just the start of the conversation. I’m sure there’ll be a lot more questions as this progresses along. I think this would be a great roundtable discussion. I know I’ve been in touch with some of our other coaches around our conference league, hopefully, that you’re out there doing similar types of things, they might have a fantastic idea that they’re keeping to themselves, because they just don’t know to share it. So, ask people to share their information, ask people to get their ideas out there.

What we’re truly after at the end of the day is to make sure that everybody is healthy, safe, we’re able to get the types of things done, we’d like to accomplish in a very safe manner. So, stay safe, stay healthy, be thinking about these things. They might take a little bit of time to put into place. So even if you’re like, “Well, our governor doesn’t loosen up or school might be closer to the entire summer,” start putting these things in place now. Get as much information together with as many voices as we need to be heard. That’s the best way that you can kind of move forward and everybody feeling good about it. Again, stay safe. Have a great day.

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