In Houston and many cities and states, gyms and fitness studios are closing indefinitely. Even the gym at my apartment complex, which barely gets used, has closed in order to take precaution from the spread of Covid-19, known as Coronavirus.
New COVID-19/Coronavirus recommendations set by the White House on Monday afternoon have prompted more businesses to close in the interest of public health, and that includes gyms. Some states, like Ohio, ordered all gyms, movie theatres, and indoor parks to close.
Here in Houston, some of the big chain gyms have closed indefinitely as of March 16th.
- 24 Hour Fitness
- LA Fitness
- Gold’s Gym (company owned gyms)
- Orangetheory Fitness
- YMCA (All locations in Houston)
I called around to several gym’s located throughout Houston and some of the smaller gyms have chosen to close. However, a lot of the smaller, individually owned gyms are still open and operating. Some of the gyms I spoke with are only allowing 25 people maximum at a time to use the facility, some are only open to members only and not allowing day passes, while some are offering day passes for only $5 and do not have a limit on the amount of people they are allowing to workout at a time.
How Coronavirus Spreads
Covid-19 virus is thought to spread two ways:
- Between people who are in close contact with one another (within 6 feet).
- Through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes.
These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs. According to Centers for Disease Control, people are thought to be most contagious when they are most symptomatic (the sickest). Some spread might be possible before people show symptoms; although this is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads.
Taking Extra Precaution
Gym owners are doing everything they can to make their gym members feel safe during this pandemic. Some gyms, like Scarlet Barbell Club in New Caney,TX, right outside of Houston, has a sign posted on the lobby door that lets members know they are not accepting any cash to avoid contact, and only five people are allowed in the lobby at a time. They are not accepting new members or day passes at this time. There are disinfectant bottles throughout the gym and you see the owner herself, Kim, and her workers, walking around and cleaning all of the equipment. Kim told me all of her disinfectant is hospital grade as well. Gym owners are suggesting it’s members clean the equipment before and after each use. Also, avoid hand shakes, hugs, and fist bumping.
Other tips to take for precaution:
- Wear weight-lifting gloves.
- Avoid going to the gym during peak hours.
Coronavirus: Is it Safe to Go to the Gym?
According to Dr. Whyte, MD, MPH, the chief medical officer at WebMD, there is no evidence that COVID-19 is transmitted through sweat. “It is a respiratory virus, so the lung is where the virus attacks,” he explained. “Sweat doesn’t contain respiratory droplets, so there’s no current beliefs that sweat is a source of the virus.” “Unless there is a full quarantine in your area, it is probably still OK to go to the gym,” Dr. Whyte said.
Without a doubt the economy is going through a crises right now. Many gym owners are closing their fitness studio indefinitely or limiting the amount of people in their studio at a time. Both ways are hurting gym owners and personal trainers financially. If you are a fitness studio owner and chose to stay open, make sure you make your members feel safe by having extra measures in place for cleanliness. Set up signs around the gym telling people no hand shakes or fist bumps. Place extra hand sanitizer throughout your gym and be sure to let your members know where they can find it. An easy way to communicate this to your members is by having your front staff let them know when they check-in or walk-in. Send an email to your members and let them know all of the extra precautions you have set in place and inform them how this virus spreads and how it doesn’t. Many people assume they can contract the coronavirus through sweat and fear touching the sweaty equipment.
Stay in Touch with Your Members
If your gym closed down due to covid-19, please be sure to let your members know. Send all of your members an email kindly letting them know your are closed so they don’t get upset like this guy. I have blocked out his name and swear words. I have seen several posts like this on Facebook actually. It amazed me how many gyms are still missing the mark when it comes to building relationships with their members. During a time like this, it is extremely important you communicate with your members and maintain a positive relationship. If not, you could lose some members. If you do not have an email list already in place, I suggest you start one. Email is an extremely effective communication method. Email marketing will nurture your leads and improve sales, build longer lasting relationships with your current members and prospects, and is inexpensive and fast.
Now more than ever you should encourage your members to focus on their health and stress to them the importance of eating healthy and working out and how this contributes to a stronger immune system. If your members do not feel safe coming to the gym, have your personal trainers write them a home workout plan at a discounted rate. Besides, your employees still need to make money also and keep their lights on. If your gym experiences cancellations, bring those members back by giving them a discount on their membership when they feel safe to come back. Another alternative is to offer to put their gym membership on hold until further notice comes in from the Presidents National Health and local advisories, for a small fee such as $5 or $10. This keeps them committed to your gym still. You can even offer them a free personal training session when they are ready to come back or a nutrition coaching session (If you have the right credentials to do so). Whatever you want to offer them, just give them an incentive to look forward to coming back and staying with your facility. This way, people will look forward to coming back and you won’t lose them as members. We both know, when people tend to take a break for too long, it is hard for them to get back into the swing of things.
If you are a gym owner and want help with your email marketing, blogging, paid advertising, or SEO, contact us today for a free 30 minute consultation. We will gladly take these responsibilities off of you so you can focus on running your business.