Moving into his current space, Michael Knaisch said priority No. 1 was a dedicated area for kids.
The Kids SafeZone at CrossFit Lakeland in Lakeland, Florida, is a space for kids. Gym members trade hours watching children for memberships. Knaisch said it’s been a complementary offering to his gym members for four years now, and he knows there are some members he wouldn’t have if the SafeZone didn’t exist.
However, that doesn’t mean it’s been easy. Knaisch said those helping in the SafeZone have cycled in and out, as many are college students who eventually graduate. But, his wife or gym manager are always there if something happens and help doesn’t show up.
Most important, Knaisch has clear SafeZone rules up on his website and outside of the kids room. “It’s something to fall back on if something goes wrong,” he said. “They’re clearly stated. Any members that come in that has kids they are bringing in, they are made aware of those rules; we recommend that they read through them.”
The rules not only keep the parents aware of what’s expected of them, but it helps parents know what to expect from the gym in terms of operating the SafeZone. Knaisch said he didn’t reinvent the wheel on the rules, instead working with some other gym owners to adapt the rules they already had established for their own kids area.
Especially during this time of year, keeping sick kids at bay is key. Knaisch said they haven’t had much of an issue with this, but it’s always something to be aware of. “If someone comes in and they’re clearly under the weather or they’re coming in and there’s clearly school going on but they’re staying home because they’re sick, they are not allowed to be in the SafeZone at that time,” he explained.
And while a cleaning service comes in and cleans the gym once a week, the SafeZone will be wiped down daily with disinfectant wipes.
Communication has been the key in running the SafeZone and keeping the rules. Whether it’s with staff or parents, Knaisch said to lay out everything clearly. “Make sure you communicate with your members, your moms and dads, let them know what the service is all about and the dos and the don’ts and that kind of stuff. But as long as there’s strong communication with those folks and they understand where you’re coming from, it’s worked out well so far,” he said.
Plus, asking his helpers what problems they come across helps guide the rules further. For instance, Knaisch said they have a policy where if a child cries for more than 10 minutes, the helper goes and gets the parent out of the gym.
All in all, running a SafeZone and determining those rules for your gym comes down to knowing your business and asking around for help. “Don’t reinvent the wheel,” said Knaisch. “There’s plenty of facilities out there that are doing it to some degree of success, so definitely research into that.”