New York may be a long way from Miami, but Miami is deep into its Phase Two reopening and it can provide some lessons for building managers in the New York area who are eager to open up their amenities to residents.
On June 8, Miami-Dade County allowed fitness centers/gyms to reopen. A look at how one building reopened can provide valuable lessons. The Continuum is a 523-unit luxury condominium in South Beach managed by Marquis Association Management, and it is using a suite of products from Aware Buildings to keep residents safe and reduce liability.
A fitness center or gym is by far the most difficult common-area amenity to reopen. No other amenity involves so much physical contact – and so much respiratory risk. The Continuum board wanted to ensure that the property reopened in a way that prioritized the comfort and safety of residents while keeping them informed of new policies.
“It’s a big moment for us, but we prepared properly and are ready for the residents to utilize the fitness center again” says Alex Varona, resort manager at the Continuum. It took a lot of work and planning.”
According to local regulations, fitness centers can operate at 75% of normal capacity with a minimum social distancing of 10 feet. It must also be cleaned and disinfected regularly. The Continuum’s fitness center spans three floors. Eighty is the normal occupancy level, but that has been reduced to 20 people. Many new programs and policies were put into place for safety. Equipment and soft goods, such as yoga mats, have been removed. Spacing between machines has been increased. Barriers were added. Drinking fountains were turned off and replaced by free bottled water.
In addition, as an advanced user of BuildingLink, The Continuum utilized existing BuildingLink features as well as new sensors from the Aware Buildings, www.awarebuildings.com. The challenge: the gym had to operate at less than full capacity while contending with pent-up demand for use.
The solution was to configure the BuildingLink Amenity Reservations module to allow residents to make reservations for one-and-a-half hour workout slots. The 30 minutes at the end of each workout was reserved for the fitness center staff to clean the equipment and common areas. The Amenities Reservation module provided the Continuum team with the ability to limit the number of reservations per resident and even to restrict new reservations from being made more than a day in advance.
“The system allows us the flexibility to change as needed in order to accommodate the rules and regulations being enacted by our local officials” says Ena Rivera, general manager of the Sporting Club and Spa at the Continuum.
It doesn’t stop there. As members enter the facility at their reserved times, they must first pass an automated health-check kiosk to take their temperature and verify that they are wearing a face mask. After that, they are welcomed by a message from the Aware Building's NetVoice Annunciator product. NetVoice is a network-connected speaker that is connected to a public address system to send scheduled and on-demand vocal notifications to residents. NetVoice also reminds the resident when it is almost time to leave, saying:
“Dear residents, thank you very much for visiting us today. We hope you enjoyed your time in the Sporting Club. We kindly ask that you finish your workout in the next 10 minutes so that our team can clean and sanitize for the next group. We look forward to seeing you again soon.”
“The residents prefer to have the automated system reinforcing the rules and informing them of the gym schedule. It is less intrusive than having a person walk around and remind them,” explains Varona.
After residents depart, the cleaning crew begins its work. As the crew moves from one location to another, it uses the Aware Building's button logging system to indicate which areas have been thoroughly cleaned and disinfected.
BuildingLink tracks this data for both residents and managers. Residents can see the data on their BuildingLink app or upon entering the gym, giving them additional peace of mind that the equipment is clean. Managers now have a log that the cleaning policy was enforced, thereby reducing potential liability if someone gets infected.
“The residents have been very supportive,” observes Rivera. “They all understand the situation. And they are excited to be able to get back into the gym. But they still want to protect themselves. BuildingLink’s tools and our policies have allowed them to feel comfortable and confident.”
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