#THIS ARTICLE IN DUTCH
by Frank Molema | 22 October 2020
The Coronavirus outbreak in spring and the resulting forced closure of gyms meant the deathblow for Delphis gym in Haarlem. But owners Alain and Toby Timmers did not give up, and used the latest technologies to start the ‘first COVID-19 secure gym’. ‘This light kills the DNA and RNA of bacteria and viruses.’
The Prime Minister’s announcement in spring that gyms had to keep their doors closed until 1 September hit entrepreneurs in the fitness industry hard. That applied also to women-only gym Delphis in Haarlem. Its membership of 700 fell by more than half.
The only option was to pull the plug and relocate the gym to a more suitable place
Entrepreneurs Alain and his son Toby were eager to turn Delphis into a virus-free environment, by making the necessary adjustments such as good ventilation. But the building’s poor condition and differences of opinion with the landlord worked against them. The only option was to pull the plug and relocate the gym to a more suitable place where they could realise their ambitious plans.
Their eye fell on a vacant property near Bloemendaal station. Here, the Timmers family set out to establish a co-ed personal gym, with one-on-one and small group training. Six months after the Coronavirus outbreak, it was time to bring out the champagne, when speed-skating champion Yvonne van Gennip opened the new gym called ’t Klaslokaal (the class room). Women who frequented Delphis for its women-only policy are welcome to join group classes in a separate location.
’t Klaslokaal claims to be the first Covid-19 secure gym thanks to innovative technology: The separate ventilation system should remove the virus particles from the building. But more importantly was the installation of UV-C lighting. This type of light has been used already for decades to clean water and surfaces, but had not yet been adapted for use in gyms.
‘The light kills the DNA and RNA of bacteria and viruses’, explains Alain Timmers. His company Timmers Elektrotechniek asserts to be the first certified UV-C lighting installer in the Netherlands. The problem with UV-C is that it causes damage to human skin and eyes. ‘Lighting engineer Signify – formerly Philips Lighting – has developed fittings with which the light can be safely used in public spaces.’
‘This lighting significantly reduces the chances of infection’
In collaboration with Boston University, Signify demonstrated the effect of UV-C lighting. Studies showed that UV-C lighting can clear spaces from virus particles almost completely within just a few seconds. Although there is no incontrovertible evidence yet, it appears highly likely that the light helps prevent infection by the Coronavirus.
Timmers: ‘We are not allowed to say that our space is completely virus-free. If you have the Coronavirus and cough in someone’s face, you could still infect that person. But this lighting significantly reduces the chances of infection.’ Timmers believes that for now ’t Klaslokaal is the first and only gym featuring this type of light.
Strict safety regulations
The lighting comes with strict safety regulations. For instance, not everyone may switch the lighting on and off. The lighting has been provided with a time lock for security reasons, and must be cleaned regularly. Also, all lighting should be switched off when work is done at heights in the building.
‘Our precautions do not just target Coronavirus but other viruses and types of influenza as well’
The Timmers family has invested tens of thousands in ’t Klaslokaal, and it would be a huge setback if the second surge of the Coronavirus would lead to another closure. ‘I have been thinking. What could I do if we were forced to close our doors again? I want to show people that they cannot get infected in ’t Klaslokaal. Although I would find it difficult, I would respect the government’s policy.’ Father Alain does not feel that their investments would be wasted if there would be a vaccine against the Coronavirus. ‘Our precautions do not just target the Coronavirus, but other viruses and types of influenza as well. This virus is definitely not the last one.’
For more information: Signify and Boston University validate effectiveness of Signify’s UV-C light sources on inactivating the virus that causes COVID-19