COVID-19 2022 Omicron Safety Guidelines

Updated January 9, 2022.  We care about your health and your safety at Sand and Steel.  COVID-19 vaccines are required for everyone’s well-being.

Table of Contents

The Power of the Booster Shot

COVID-19 Booster Shot Efficacy
The Vaccine Alone is Not Enough
COVID-19 Vaccination is very powerful, but it does not remain powerful indefinitely.  After 6 months, COVID-19 has a breakthrough rate of about 60% vs 25% for a newly boosted individual.  We urge everyone to get their booster, but should we require it?  Let us know in the survey below.
COVID-19 Omicron

COVID-19 Omricron Specific Requirements

-In Effect Until February 15, 2022

Booster Shot

  • All Coaches must have the Booster Shot by January 20, 2022.
  • All Members are strongly encouraged to get their boosters by January 31, 2022.
  • Booster shots for members taking Personal Training with Dawn or Paul are required.
  • Proof of COVID-19 vaccine has been required for all members since August 2021.

Face Masks

  • Masks Required for Personal Training Sessions, Nutrition, or Inbody (Coaches & Members)
  • Masks Required for Classes (Coaches Only)
  • Masks Optional for Open Gym
  • Masks Required for Consultations (Coaches & Members)
  • Face Masks must be surgical, N95 or comparable masks.  Scarves or cloth-based masks are not permitted.
  • We have a UV Face Mask cleaner for member-use upfront.

The "Should & Encourage" Minimum Standard in Virginia

  • Unvaccinated patrons and staff members should wear a mask whenever possible in public spaces.
  • Encourage physical distancing between individuals.
  • Patrons should be actively screened for COVID-19 symptoms prior to admission.
  • Adults should sign a COVID-19 Declaration
  • Unvaccinated instructors and participants of group exercise and fitness classes should maintain physical distancing between each other at all times.
  • Personal trainers should maintain distance between themselves and their clients if either party is unvaccinated.

December 26, 2021.  Virginia Fitness COVID-19 Standards:

The Minimum Standards are Not Good Enough

I’m going to be blunt — these should & encourage-based standards are not good enough to keep you safe.  It’s not even close.  There is no requirement to do any of these steps.  Moreover, even if they were required, it’s not enough to keep you safe.

To be fair, these standards are designed as minimum standards by the state.  And at large commercial gyms, the minimum standard is what you get.  But the minimum standard is not good enough for the safety of our members or our employees.  I’m not OK with minimum standards when it comes to my health, and you shouldn’t be OK with it either.

Paul Roberts

Our 2022 COVID-19 Omicron Gym Safety Plan

We research best practices across the world (not just the US).  We talk to gyms in Korea, China, and other countries.  We consult with virologists from companies like Merk and GSK.  We buy the best air cleaning technology and we talk experts in HVAC systems and Air Handling Systems.  We do everything we can to make sure we have the right policies & practices to minimize your risk of COVID-19 infection.

Rigorous Enforcement of All Policies

The keystone to having the cleanest gym begins and ends with fostering a membership that cares about having a clean gym.  Every single new member, whether it’s for a high-end membership or just a day pass has to meet with Paul for a gym tour before they come to Sand and Steel.  Everyone will know our COVID-19 policies and procedures, and they will be enforced for everyone’s safety.

Only by working together, can we truly minimize your exposure to COVID-19.

What Our Members Think

COVID-19 Vaccination Policy

No Vaccine -- No Service FB Silver

Effective August 9, 2021, Sand & Steel will require proof of COVID-19 vaccination to enter the gym.  The policy is simple: No Vaccine — No Service.

100% Compliance – We are Stronger When We Do This Together

We are not past COVID-19 yet.  A new threat has emerged, and the Omicron strain is here The Omicron strain is 40-60% more contagious than the alpha strain.1  It has a breakthrough rate of 25% against the vaccine — when you are fully boosted (60% if it’s been more than 6 months since you had the vaccine.)  As eloquently put by President Biden, “We have a pandemic for those who haven’t gotten a vaccination. It’s that basic, that simple.  If you’re vaccinated, you’re not going to be hospitalized, not going to the ICU unit, and not going to die.”

No Vaccine -- No Service

I need everyone to come together once more and keep COVID-19 out of Sand & Steel.

It’s not complicated … if everyone does their part by getting the vaccine, we all benefit from decreased exposure to the COVID-19 virus.  -Coach Paul

Can’t I Just Wear a Mask if I Don’t Want to Get a Vaccine?

It depends on why you haven’t gotten the vaccine.  The vaccine is free and readily available in Virginia. We only recognize two reasons for not getting the vaccine: a bonafide religious exception, and a documented health issue signed by your physician.

There are no exceptions for people at “low risk” of getting COVID-19. We know that younger people are less likely to get COVID, but younger people can still transmit the virus to older people.  We have members in their 60s and 70s at Sand & Steel.  When you choose not to get the vaccine, you choose to put other member’s health at risk.  We cannot allow you to put other members’ health at risk.

No More Honor System

Most businesses in Virginia follow this BS honor system that reads something like, “Face masks are required unless you have the COVID-19 vaccine.”  We all know that system isn’t working.

Virginia has a vaccination rate of about 67%-80%.  But when you look at how many people are wearing masks in Alexandria, VA — it’s like 5%.  We both know the truth … people are saying they have the vaccine so that they don’t have to wear a mask.  This COVID-19 vaccine honor system is flawed, and as a community, we owe it to each other to do better.

COVID-19 Vaccination Form

COVID-19 Safety Gear and Policies

BAF: Clean Air System

State-of-the-art Ionization Technology that kills 99.99% OF SARS-COV-2 (CAUSES COVID-19) AND OTHER AIRBORNE PATHOGENS.  The BAF Clean Air System combines powerful airflow across the entire gym with Global Plasma Solutions Ionization Technology.  The result, a lab tested, time-proven, hospital technology that can help keep you safe.  Breath better.

Carrier Opticlean System

We we selected the Opticlean because it uses HEPA filtration to remove the smallest particles possible.  Carrier makes these units for hospitals to protect high risk patients.  Our 1500 CFM model is capable of turning over all the air in the gym in less than hour.  Cleaner air — is better air.

Carrier OptiClean-Infographic-v4

Face Mask Policy

This Policy Ended in June 2021 when COVID-19 infection rate fell to 1% and the vaccine became required.

Alexandria VA – On Monday, October 19, Sand and Steel became one of the first gyms in Virginia to voluntarily ask all of their members to wear masks while they are in the gym.

67 Executive Order 67 doesn’t require members in gyms to wear a mask when they are exercising. But, Executive Order 67 sets the MINIMUM safety standard for gyms. Sand & Steel is not, nor will it ever will be, a small business that settles for minimum standards when it comes to the health and safety of our members. Our staff deserves better than minimum levels of protection — and you do too.

When you wear a mask you not only protect yourself, you protect your coach, and you protect the other members working with you in the gym. Wearing a face masks helps reduce the risk asymptomatic person transmitting the virus to another person. So wearing a face mask not only protects you … it protects others from you. If everyone follows this policy — the risk of someone getting COVID-19 from the gym is substantially reduced. The science is clear, Face Masks are your first and last defense against COVID-19 exposure.

10 Foot Social Distancing — Both People Wear a Mask.  That’s the Policy, and it’s for everyone’s protection.

Face Masks are required for all employees.  Face mask are required for all members at all times.
View Current Face Mask Policies

We take 23,040 breaths a day.  You should expect to be safe at Sand and Steel.  Now you know that you are. Our Air Quality Detectors Measure:
  • Air Quality Index (AQI)
  • Formaldehyde (HCHO)
  • Total Volatile Organic Compounds (TVOC)
  • Particulate Matter PM2.5
  • Temperature, and
  • Humidity
We have the air sensors in the members area so that you know we have the air quality under control at all times.  The air sensors also provide valuable real time feedback as to what improves our air quality.  Not everything you read online or see in the news works in real life.

Better Air Quality Guaranteed

We know we have the best air quality of any gym in DC, MD, and VA. We have been to the other gyms, and I saw they are doing... and particularly not doing. If you find any gym in DCMVA area with better quality than ours, let us know. We'll provide you a $100 gift certificate.

Breath Better Knowing We Have Air Quality Index (AQI) Sensors Installed

AirFlow Filtration

We have a brand-new, 6-ton Carrier dual HVAC system that utilizes the most advanced filtration technology.  Clinically proven to remove dust, mold, bacteria, and viruses from the air.  Rotated every 3 months, we take clean air seriously.  Professionally serviced by Carrier themselves.

6.5 HP HEPA Filtered Rigid Shop VAC

We chose the Rigid 16 Gallon, 6.5 HP Shop because it offers the highest level of protection to the air.  Our Customized Shop Vac has:

  • 5 Layer HEPA Filter
  • Exhaust Air Diffuser and Filter
  • Filtered Liner Bag

Vacuum filtering is so important.  The last thing you want to do is vacuum up bacteria and viruses and aerosolize them.  If your gym doesn’t have a HEPA filtration vacuum, they are making a bad problem worse.

Our Shop VAC is equipped with a top of the line beater brush designed safely remove asbestos.  Imagine what it can do to dust?  So powerful it can rip up the duct tape we have glued to our gym mats.

The Ryobi Fogger & Sprayer with Simple Green-D

COVID-19 Clean Air Technology Sars-CoV-2

Simple Green-D is the most effective cleaning solution on the market.  We bought over 500 gallons of it — way back in February.  Every member has access their own Simple Green D spray bottle.  The coaches are equipped with our fogger and floor sprayers.

Whether bacteria and viruses are on the floor or in the air, our Ryobi Fogger and Floor Sprayer system allows to rapidly disinfect all surfaces.

The floor sprayer stores over 2 gallons of simple Green-D.  We use the floor sprayer to immediately disinfect any sweat on the floors or equipment.

The fogger allows us to directly disinfect the air with Simple Green-D.  The fogger creates a fine mix of water and cleaning solutions which wipes out the virus on contact.

Contactless Signup and Purchases

100% Contactless sign-ups, purchases, and programs.  Everything at Sand and Steel is handled virtually.  There is no paper, and every workout plan is available on your phone.

Seniors Hours and Virtual Training

Between the hours of 3-4:45pm we limit access to only 3 people at a time.  This creates an even safer environment for people who may be in a higher risk group.

We know that Sand & Steel will be safer for everyone, if everyone at Sand & Steel keeps themselves healthy. 

Sanitize in 5 minutes with our Phone, Keys, & Masks with our UV Cleaning stations.   

Health Safety Survey

We keep live a survey on our website so you can let us know (anonymously) if you ever find:

  • anything that isn’t clean;
  • any practice that isn’t safe;
  • any member not following the rules;
  • any coach not following social distancing, etc.

You can view all previous survey responses and let us know how you found the gym here.  And please, if it is clean, and you are happy, fill it in too.  New members look at this survery when they are considering us as their new home gym.

To be Alexandria Promise Certified, you have to agree to a number of more rigorous standards in terms of health and safety practices.  

Member COVID-19 Declaration

We require all members to sign our COVID-19 Declaration, each and every session they work out.  We enforce this policy so that you know every members takes their disclosure obligations seriously.  We have suspended several members for forgetting to sign this declaration.  And we have ended memberships of those members who didn’t want to sign it.

The declaration requires you to certify that you don’t have any COVID-19 symptoms and that you haven’t attended any events likely to cause you to become infected.  Members who do attend such events required to wait 14 days and/or get COVID-19 test before returning to the gym

You have a right to know who is working out next to you.  You should expect to be responsible with what they do outside the gym.  So do we.

10 Hand Sanitizing Stations, 8 Wipe Buckets, 2 Cleaning Hubs

Count them up.  We have 10 locations in our gym that you can sanitize your hands.  We have two massive cleaning hubs that you can use to clean and disinfect equipment.  We have 8 cleaning wipe buckets through the gym.

I am not going to lie to you … we run a tight ship.  You are required by our membership policy to clean all the stations you touch.  We spot check your compliance using security cameras, and we have suspended members who have trouble remembering to clean up after themselves.  It’s a simple policy — Leave No Trace.  We provide you with everything you need to keep the gym clean for the next person.  Pay it forward, and keep the gym clean for everyone.

Social Distancing

We require all coaches and members stay 10 feet from each other.  We have a health survey that allows you inform us of any member or any coach not following this policy.  We have bright yellow lines in our gym that show you what 10 feet is.

Small Classes + No Equipment Sharing

Our class size runs from 6-16 people.  That’s small.  Most Orange Theory, CrossFit, Crank Spin, Yoga Works, and F45 classes are 25-30 people.  Why? It’s more profitable.  You pay one instructor a fixed cost.  More people makes the gym more money.  

But we can’t have classes that large and maintain the required social distancing of 10 Feet.  So we made the hard business decision to lower our class size without raising our prices.  

Moreover, we don’t allow coaches to share or rotate equipment during a workout.  You won’t get someone else’s sweaty rower or share a barbell rack.  If we can’t program a workout so that everyone gets their own equipment, we change the workout.  

8 Person Cap on Open Gym + Reservation System

We have all gone to the gym with the hoards of members.  People sweating on you, bumping into you, taking your plates.  It’s not pleasant, it’s not effective, and it’s not safe.  And we’ll have none of that at Sand and Steel. 

  • Only 8 people can reserve open gym in our gym at one time.  Everyone will have their squat rack, barbell, and 500 pounds of bumper plates.  Everyone has their own cardio equipment and TRX trainers.
  • Everyone gets 500 square feet of personal space.
  • All members are required to use our reservation system to prevent crowding.  We enforce this policy and suspend any member who tries to come-in without a reservation.
  • Reservations are simple to make.  You can do it on the web or your phone.  You can book or cancel anytime — from two weeks in advance up to two hours before.
  • You can book up to two open gym hours and one class per day.

More Conscientious Members Means a Cleaner Gym

A gym is defined by its members and it’s community.  Our gym is cleaner, because our members want it to be that way.  If you are about your health safety join us.  That is our community. 

And I know that if you read this entire article ... you care too.  And for that I thank you.  Please share this article on Facebook or social media and tag us @sandandsteelfitness.  You'll get free Owner's Training Session with me ($100 value.)

Paul Roberts, Owner & Member Tweet
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