Each week, IHRSA Interim President & CEO Brent Darden will bring you his most important topics of the moment in a short five-minute video as part of an ongoing series called “Take 5.”

IHRSA’s Take 5: Health Clubs & COVID-19 Contact Tracing [VIDEO]

Could health clubs play a role in COVID-19 contact tracing? Plus the latest check-in data, an update on letters to U.S. governors, new studies from the U.K. and Boston University, and more!

  • November 11, 2020

Could health clubs play a role in COVID-19 contact tracing? One facility in Vermont thinks so—and they’re using it to tie the club to the medical community and keep their doors open.

Watch the video to hear more about the initiative from Brent, and learn how your club can follow suit. This week, Brent also discusses the latest check-in data from Rex Roundtables, letters sent to U.S. governors regarding Joe Biden’s comments on gymnasiums, studies coming out of the U.K. and Boston University, and more!

Watch the full video above, read the full transcript below, or jump to a section by topic:

  • 0:06 - Veterans Day in the U.S.
  • 0:19 - Letters Sent to U.S. Governors
  • 1:23 - Daxko Fitness Alliance Playbook
  • 2:01 - Rex Roundtable Check-in Data
  • 3:00 - Studies from U.K. and Boston University
  • 3:40 - Free COVID-19 Contact Tracing Course
  • 4:47 - Home Gym Equipment Still Hard to Find

Full Transcript

Veterans Day in the U.S.

Welcome back, everybody, to IHRSA's CEO Take 5. If you're not already aware, today is Veterans Day, and if you haven't taken the time lately to express your appreciation to those men and women serving in our military and armed forces, I'd encourage you to do so today.

Letters Sent to U.S. Governors in Response to Biden Comments

I'll start today again with a reference to what I talked about last week. Joe Biden infamously in the debate talked about his desire to close down not all businesses, but specifically gymnasiums. I wanted to give you an update to that and let you know that we have sent a letter to Joe Biden's transition team outlining sort of the realities of research around health clubs, and the fact that they're not a great risk of transferring COVID to health club members who visit.

That's been received well, the lobbyists that have represented IHRSA and others have given us great feedback on that. So now we've taken that same letter, which includes information on research, and all the impact of that on the community that health clubs can have, and we're sending that to the governors of all 50 states. So that's already in the mail, already going that direction, in hopes that we'll continue to educate them about the efficacy of clubs, maintaining the ability to be open and serve customers, as long as they're following, of course, the safety protocols in whatever geographic region they're in.

Fitness Alliance Playbook Developed by Daxko

Also, through the efforts of Daxko—they've really been doing a great job—they produced what they're calling a Fitness Alliance Playbook. So they've been working in conjunction with the IHRSA team to develop materials and resources for all of you to start state alliances, if you already haven't done that, and to expand those and make them more effective if you have done that. We're also having weekly state alliance calls, so if you'd like more information, there's actually a state alliance button on IHRSA.org's homepage now where you can link and find out who to contact and where to get access to all the resources that are available.

REX Roundtable Insider Information: Check-in Data

This week's REX Roundtable Insider Information, again, based on over 300 clubs, talks about the check-ins this September, compared to September of a year ago. And the percentage of check-ins is running right now at 61.9%. Now, it's important to note that this is based on the number of members checking in and that doesn't constitute the same thing as unique members checking in. What we know from doing a deeper dive on the data is that more of the core members, those members that are, you know, typically more religious about coming to the gym, are coming even more often now that they're coming out of the pandemic, and those members that may not have been that regular or consistent in their attendance have dropped off a little bit further. So the fact that the check-ins are this high mark is really good news. The only downside is it's not unique visits, but more of our active members being even more active than perhaps they were in the past.

Studies from U.K. and Boston University

A U.K. study analyzing data of over 387,000 people found that those individuals with the most unfavorable lifestyle factors such as smoking, obesity, and being physically inactive were more than four times as likely to contract COVID as their healthier counterparts.

Another study from Boston University School of Public Health found that unfortunately, depression rates have tripled during COVID-19. Going from around 8.5% pre-pandemic to a whopping 27.8% since the pandemic began and through the crisis.

Free COVID-19 Contact Tracing Course Offered by Johns Hopkins University

I spoke with Mike Feitelberg, who's the CEO of The Edge up in Vermont this last week, and he's been doing something really unique, not only to help solidify his tie to the medical community, but also to help justify with elected officials the rationale behind keeping his clubs open. What he's done is [he] actually sent several of his staff members through contact tracing through the [Johns Hopkins University]. What they called it is COVID-19 contact tracing, of course, from Johns Hopkins. So you can go to that website, it'll come right up, you can click on there, the course they say takes about six to seven hours to complete. It's open to anyone and it's free. And it's really intended to serve people that want to do contact tracing throughout the United States for a lot of the health departments. And it's sponsored by the Bloomberg Philanthropies, one of the reasons it's free, and it's certified by the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. So it has a lot of credibility to it. It's obviously a third party, outside the health and fitness industry, might be something you'd like to look into.

Home Gym Equipment Still Hard to Find

And then finally, just on an anecdotal note, as well as some of the data and research that I've seen out there, [it] still is incredibly hard to find dumbbells, kettlebells, yoga mats, bicycles, rowers, home exercise gym equipment ... because the demand for people working out, obviously, in their homes. And by the way, Peloton bikes are still on backorder as well.

So I'll end this week with that, have a great week.

And remember, if you haven't, thank some of the men and women that are serving our country in the military, try to reach out and find time to do that. See you next week.

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This article was a team effort by several IHRSA experts.