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: Spread the Word that Gyms Are Safe [VIDEO]

This week, IHRSA Interim President & CEO Brent Darden shares how you can help spread the word that gyms are safe.

  • December 02, 2020

Studies continue to find that as long as proper protocols are being followed—physical distancing, sanitizing, and contact tracing to name a few—gyms are a safe place to visit during the pandemic. However, convincing government officials and even the general public has been a different story.

There are ways you can help show that health clubs are safe. In this week’s Take 5, Brent Darden explains what IHRSA is doing to help you to spread the word that gyms are not only safe, but also essential during the pandemic with sample letters, research, and an upcoming opportunity to sign a pledge for your gym.

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

  • 0:18 - Announcing Active & Safe Commitment
  • 0:49 - State Mandates Chart Shows COVID Guidelines
  • 1:24 - IHRSA Develops National Letter of Support for Health Clubs
  • 1:58 - Average COVID Case Rate Across 18 Fitness Clubs is Negligible
  • 3:43 - ClassPass Releases New Findings
  • 4:26 - Precor Shares Data Collected Using Preva
  • 5:32 - Beware of Email Scam Regarding Convention Room Reservations

Full Transcript

Welcome to this week's Take 5. Today's a great day for the Darden family as our oldest son, a graduate of the Air Force Academy, returns home safe and sound after a six-month deployment in Afghanistan. Certainly helps maintain a little perspective at least in our family.

Announcing Active & Safe Commitment

So in response to member requests, IHRSA is delighted to announce the launch of the Active & Safe Commitment later this week. You'll be seeing more details coming out really soon. And look for a press release with all of this information including how to sign up. And we encourage you to do that just as soon as you possibly can. We think it's [going to] be a great thing for our industry to establish a communication piece to the consumer about the fact that clubs are a safe place to get activity.

State Mandates Chart Shows COVID Guidelines

Of interest to many of you may also be a state mandates chart showing the guidelines and restrictions from state to state. You can look at this chart for comparison purposes and see that now many more states are requiring masks at all times, even during exercise, not just when in the facility, omitting folks doing rigorous exercises, but they are also requiring masks during exercise. Right now, California, Oregon, Illinois, Michigan, New Jersey, and North Carolina are the most restrictive. We'll see what continues to play out.

IHRSA Develops National Letter of Support for Health Clubs

The Medical Science & Health Advisory Council is currently being formed, and a national letter of support for health clubs to be deemed as vital and essential businesses has been developed. And right now, it's gaining high-profile signatures and momentum. We're going to have this letter available for you to use as well, of course, and you can use it in your state as is, or you can supplement it with local physicians, scientists, and healthcare professionals that you feel will be worthy to sign a letter and that may have some credibility and status within your community.

Average COVID Case Rate Across 18 Fitness Clubs is Negligible

I've shared several times recently that the research and data available clearly demonstrates that health clubs really pose a very slight risk of transmitting COVID. So, based on the business-to-virus ratios in case rates reported, and studies from several independent states in the U.S., nationwide throughout the U.S., as well as research done across Europe, Canada, and Australia, I asked the team just to give me a rough calculation of the average case rates across everything that we have. These included 18 fitness club markets around the world.

Now, in truth, there's some overlap in some of the U.S. studies because we did state and national, and there's also some studies that only reported members as opposed to members and staff, and how they responded or if they got COVID.

So, my intention is simply to paint sort of a very general overall cumulative picture by taking all [this research and] averaging [it] together, so it's not a scientific analysis. But I keep telling myself, "Well, we have a lot of research, so let's look at it collectively.”

[All] of these research studies have been reported on earlier and separately in […] Take 5. If you're interested, you can go find the supporting organizations responsible, research parties, details, and methodology in previous Take 5s, and of course online at IHRSA.org.

But, here's the great thing. And this is the sort of rudimentary findings. Collectively, all these have total visits of 180.9 million, [with only 1,996 testing positive for COVID, making the average case rate across 18 fitness club markets 0.0011%].

ClassPass Releases New Findings

ClassPass just released a new report based on the responses of 2,185 professionals from 19 countries. And here are their findings:

  • 92% of professionals hope to return to fitness studios and gyms in 2021.
  • 25% of professionals are exercising more now than at the start of COVID-19, with 1 in 5 using their previous commute time back and forth to work to exercise.
  • 80% of professionals say fitness activities have been crucial to them establishing a new work-from-home routine.
  • And finally, 89% say they feel more productive during the work day after exercise.

Precor Shares Data Collected Using Preva

Precor, who actually happens to be the sponsor of these weekly updates, continues to track usage of cardiovascular equipment in clubs around the world through their Preva connected fitness network, and they shared some data with us. You can go see the data yourself at Precor.com and find this information by country. If you look around the world map, or by state, if you look at the U.S. map, and this information is actually being updated every single week. What you will find is that the map shows year over year worldwide usage of connected fitness equipment based on over 11,000 facilities.

So for the week ending November 16, 2020, here in the states right before Thanksgiving, here's just a few examples of the data:

  • China checks in at 104% usage this year, compared to 2019.
  • Japan: 84%,
  • Russia: 76%,
  • Australia: 54%,
  • Canada: 48%,
  • and the U.S. at 42%.

Beware of Email Scam Regarding Convention Room Reservations

In closing, I just want to issue what I would call sort of a fraud alert. I've had several friends forward emails to me that they've received just in the last few days, trying [to encourage] them to reserve a room in Vegas for the [IHRSA] Convention & Trade Show. Unfortunately, this is done by what we call private travel booking companies and they send emails encouraging you, right now at least, to book at the Mandalay Bay, which is where the Convention was going to be in Vegas, in March. Of course, as we all know, we're not even going to Vegas. It's not in March. It's now in L.A. in September. So please disregard these emails that you're getting. Unfortunately, we see these scams almost every year around these big events. We have to issue demand letters actually to get them to stop and sometimes that works and sometimes we just have to wait it out. So just ignore these, these promotional pieces that are coming out.

That's all for this week. We'll see you next week.

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Katie Willis

Katie Willis previously served as IHRSA's Senior Marketing Operations Manager—a position that created and executed marketing campaigns to grow IHRSA and promote its events.