BOSTON, MA—February 25, 2021—Following the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) publication of two reports regarding COVID-19 outbreaks at fitness facilities, Alexandra Black Larcom, MPH, RD, LDN, senior manager of health promotion & health policy of the International Health, Racquet & Sportsclub Association (IHRSA), released the following statement:
“On February 24, the CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report published two reports outlining case studies of COVID-19 outbreaks at fitness centers. These outbreaks occurred in Honolulu, HI, in June 2020, and Chicago, IL, in August 2020. According to the reports, these incidents result from several preventable factors, including poor ventilation, infrequent mask use, and persons with symptoms of or confirmed COVID-19 infection attending classes.
“In concluding both reports, the CDC recommends several steps to reduce SARS-CoV-2 infections in fitness centers, including mask-wearing, engineering and administrative controls to improve ventilation and distancing, facilitating hand hygiene, and communicating with staff and members to stay home when ill.
“The industry recognizes that risk for COVID-19 cannot be zero. However, many facilities have been closely following the CDC guidelines outlined in these reports since the fall, and fitness facilities communicate risks, guidelines, and protocols with their members.
“Currently available evidence suggests fitness centers implementing appropriate safety protocols are not high-risk venues for COVID-19 transmission. According to the Illinois Department of Public Health, just 1.71% of COVID-19 cases in the Chicago area were attributed to gyms and fitness centers. In Honolulu, there has been just one cluster of 25 cases reported in fitness centers since November 4, representing less than 1% of total cases in that period. Contact tracing in several other states shows that cases attributed to categories containing fitness centers appear to make up a small proportion of total outbreaks.”
Although the goal is to prevent any COVID-19 outbreaks at fitness facilities to keep members, staff, and communities safe, there is a silver lining to the CDC’s reports. Brent Darden, IHRSA interim president and CEO, said, “The good news for the health and fitness club industry is that the CDC’s recommendations are closely aligned with current industry guidelines. Globally, 1,552 fitness facilities have signed onto the Active and Safe Commitment, pledging to adhere to these minimum standards.”
IHRSA, the International Health, Racquet & Sportsclub Association, is a not-for-profit trade association representing the global fitness industry of over 200,000 health and fitness facilities and their suppliers.
IHRSA maintains a leadership role in advancing physical activity, which is critical to peak health and fight the battle against obesity and chronic lifestyle disease. As one of the world's leading authorities on the commercial health club industry, IHRSA’s mission is to grow, promote, and protect the health and fitness industry, while providing its members with benefits and resources. IHRSA and its members are devoted to making the world happier, healthier, and more prosperous through regular exercise and activity promotion. IHRSA is the publisher of Club Business International, the leading monthly magazine for the global fitness industry.