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Fitness clubs: Infection-proofing and optimization of costs

Blog
01.10.2020
Fitness clubs: Infection-proofing and optimization of costs

Today, gyms are closely monitored by regulators as these facilities are among the riskiest public places in terms of spread of infectious diseases.


In the current crisis, fitness clubs have to think about mitigating their epidemiological risks and to take extra steps to prevent the spread of the virus. Diligent approach to protection of their visitors’ health will help avoid potential suspension of business during the quarantine but also can become an important marketing advantage during the flu season in future. It can also help reduce fixed costs and improve profitability of the business along the way.

But how can an access control system help in this context? Keep reading to find out.

CAN’T TOUCH THIS!

If a turnstile has already been installed in your fitness club, you don’t have much choice but to work with what you already have. But if you have a possibility to install a new turnstile or replace the existing one, a speedgate turnstile will be a clever choice, because it offers 2 important advantages.

Tripod turnstiles pose a potential health threat

First, a speedgate turnstile is a more reliable option since, unlike a tripod turnstile, even a child can’t bypass this system. And since you are trying not only to improve health and safety at your facility but also make your business more efficient, this is an important point to consider.

Speedgate turnstile

Second, tripod turnstiles imply physical contact. Some people prefer to push the bar by foot or other parts of the body, however most people use their hands. That being said, this is a perfect source of infection and you will have to regularly disinfect the bars, which is counter to our goal of optimization.

EXTRA SAFETY AND SECURITY WITH FACIAL RECOGNITION

If the pandemic has taught us anything, it is that the less you touch things the better. Contactless identification has become extremely popular these days in the world of access control systems. This trend is quite prominent in biometrics. Contact fingerprint scanners, former bestsellers in the security market, have now dropped in popularity dramatically and facial recognition has become mainstream, which is sensible.

Contactless access

A Mifare wristband is probably one of the best identifier options for a fitness club. Why a wristband and not a card? A wristband will not be lost in a fuss of getting changed or exercising, it’s waterproof and you don’t have to frequently touch it, unlike cards, which is safer.

What is Mifare?

John Snow

However, using just one identifier is not a good safety decision as club members can share their wristbands with others. Facial recognition can help solve this problem. And it is also, counterintuitively, cheaper for the business.

The facial recognition algorithms have already been integrated to Sigur and can be used both with video surveillance systems and with IP cameras



Facial recognition in Sigur

WHAT ABOUT FEVER?

We need to understand that here we are talking about skin temperature which is not the same as body temperature. This being said, some experts are very skeptical about fever screening at the entrance to any facilities in general, let along mass screenings.

On the other hand, if we look at this situation in terms of accurate vs useful, we must understand that we need to have at least some ways to monitor fever in place, even if they are not the most accurate ones, to reduce epidemiological risks.

What options do we have here? You can buy a thermal camera (standalone or integrated into a CCTV camera, which you will need anyway for facial recognition). It is a bit expensive but highly reliable.

This is how a thermal camera works

You can also buy a terminal to be installed on your turnstile. It is a cheaper solution and has fever screening and facial recognition functionality. But here is a problem. Since March 2020, there has been a surge in production of such terminals but, at the time of writing, we still don’t have enough experience with actual application. So, the major problem is how to choose the right product. The rule of thumb is to choose a product by a known and reputable brand.

Hikvision terminal

Why not assign a person with a contactless thermometer to measure temperature? Because if they get infected, anyone else who was in contact with them can get infected too. And this approach is not the most cost effective idea and will not win you more loyal customers.

Sigur and thermal cameras

NO ROOM

To limit the spread of diseases, a number of measures can be introduced, including limiting the number of people at the facility. The number of people allowed is calculated based on the area of the room. One way to comply with these requirements is to assign an employee to manually count all people who enter or exit the facility. But we can clearly see the disadvantages of this approach. This employee is distracted from other presumably more useful work, they can become a source of infection themselves and there’s always a chance of human error.

Limiting the number of people allowed in the gym

An access control system is not only capable of monitoring and limiting the number of visitors at the entire facility, but also the number of people simultaneously staying in a certain area of the fitness club as the entire territory of the facility can be divided into sectors with limited access controlled by access terminals. Each sector has its own capacity limitation. To make the process completely automated, display devices can be used to inform people about the number of available slots.

INTEGRATION WITH FITNESS CRM SYSTEMS

Further, an ACS can be integrated with your club’s existing CRM system for access control purposes. Depending on the contract terms and conditions, card limitations, debt, etc., the CRM will decide to grant or deny access and communicate the decision to your ACS. In this case, the ACS is simply controlling the doors.

Sigur has implemented this functionality through delegation. When the cardholder is identified, the Sigur controller will send a request to the ACS server, which in turn sends the request to the external system’s server (which can be located either in the organization’s local network or in the cloud or web-based). The advantages seem to be crystal clear.

GET RID OF THE ADMINISTRATOR

Now, we are finally moving on to the most exciting part of our story. How will all this help reduce costs? First, it enables you to get rid of the administrator at the entrance, so you can cut on the payroll. If you think it is possible only in theory, let’s look at some real examples. Universe Soft, a software developer & integrator (Russia), used this approach to automate the operations of several fitness clubs. And look at the results they have achieved as summarized below:

Based on Sigur, we deployed an advanced hi-tech system in several fitness clubs to control visitors’ access to the facilities without an administrator, which helped reduce administrative costs by 50%.

Sigur is highly integratable, which makes this system ideal as a framework for further automation, which in turn brings in further economic advantages due to optimization of the infrastructure.

Sigur solution for fitness club