Club Insider

Exercise IS Medicine!

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Mike AlpertMike Alpert

I am sure that all of you who are reading Club Insider this month cannot wait to get back to your clubs and out of your home office. I can never remember a more taxing and stressful time in my business life than these past seven weeks. It is one thing being isolated at home and having to watch COVID-19 news 24/7, seven days a week, but also having the responsibility of our wonderful staff and vendors is additionally taxing.

Clubs around the world have seen cancellations rise due to members who have been furloughed or laid off, and in some cases, some are simply afraid to come back once we re-open. It is clear that, from the Federal and State levels, there will be restrictions and guidelines that we will all have to follow going forward, and there will be a "new normal" as far as standard operating procedures go. More importantly, what additional steps will you be taking to make sure that your club is going above and beyond to build and retain the confidence, trust and support from your members and staff?

Over 25 States are already re-opening their economies and many more are getting ready to re-open in the coming weeks. Though in Phase One of the Federal plan, unfortunately, in many State plans, health clubs (they refer to them as gyms) and salons are scheduled to re-open in the third phase. Some have already been told that there will be limits as to how many members will be allowed in the club at any given time.

In order to adhere to the social distancing requirements, you will have to limit the number of members in your classes, in your weight room and studios, as well as in your pools, spas and tennis courts. It will be necessary to have a booking/reservation system that is accessible through your phone app. You will be expected to schedule far fewer classes with laser-focused disinfecting and sanitizing between each class. Temperature checks will be required prior to entry. This will obviously slow down the entry process, and surely, many members will not be happy with this.

Some clubs will make the decision to close steam rooms, saunas and showers during the first phase or two. Many States have made the decision to close schools until mid-July or as late as September, which suggests that there is a real possibility that children will not be allowed in our clubs and that summer camps will not be allowed.

All of this will affect our member's schedules and attitudes towards dues. But, I believe that most members will be willing to support your guidelines and continue to allow you to draft their dues if you are able to show them that you are committed to operating in the safest way possible to assure their health and well being.

Your club will need to be spotless, and disinfecting and sanitizing will need to be visible and going on 24/7. This means prior to and during all operating hours, every day. Hand sanitizing dispensers will need to be visible and available throughout your club. Attention to detail should be obvious to everyone who enters and throughout their visit.

I would highly recommend that all clubs bring in their staff one week prior to re-opening to do thorough customer service and conflict resolution training. As I previously mentioned, most members will not be happy with all the changes that are going to be necessary, and staff will need training on how to listen and respond in a kind and positive fashion.

I have long been a fan of Coach John Wooden, the legendary UCLA Basketball Coach. I consider him to be one of my mentors and have learned so much from him. I want to leave you with three of my favorite quotes from him:

  • "Success is peace of mind, which is a direct result of self-satisfaction in knowing you made the effort to become the best of which you are capable."
  • "Be more concerned with your character than your reputation, because your character is what you really are, while your reputation is merely what others think you are."
  • "Talent is God given. Be humble. Fame is man-given. Be grateful. Conceit is self-given. Be careful."

It is disappointing that so many States have allowed crowds at big box stores but put health clubs in the final phase for re-opening, especially when the benefits of exercise are so obvious: Building a healthy immune system, helping with anxiety and depression and preventing so many chronic illnesses. And, we now know that the two leading factors of morbidity and mortality from COVID-19 are obesity and diabetes, both that benefit from exercise.

Exercise is Medicine!

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JLR Associates