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: Telling the Story that Health Clubs Are Safe [VIDEO]

On this week’s Take 5, IHRSA Interim President & CEO Brent Darden shares how clubs are helping to tell the public that they are safe. He also shares updates on research, The Health & Fitness Recovery Act of 2020, and more.

  • October 14, 2020

Health clubs are safe—and we’re working to spread the news far and wide! On this week’s Take 5, IHRSA Interim President & CEO Brent Darden shares how clubs are helping to tell the public that they are safe and following COVID protocols. He also discusses the national and global research on club safety that IHRSA is involved in.

In the video, you’ll also hear updates on the IHRSA European Congress, an IHRSA membership survey, and an upcoming supplier town hall. Watch the full video above, read the full transcript below, or jump to a section by topic:

  • 0:02 - IHRSA European Congress 2020 Virtual Edition: 18-20 November
  • 0:40 - Member Survey Aimed to Enhance Experience & Value Completed
  • 1:04 - IHRSA Headlight Teams Developed to Reimagine IHRSA & the Industry
  • 2:21 - Supplier Town Hall Meeting
  • 2:55 - Medical Health and Science Advisory Council
  • 3:13 - The Health & Fitness Recovery Act of 2020 (H.R. 8485) Update
  • 3:38 - Research Still Shows that Clubs Are Safe

Video Transcript

IHRSA European Congress 2020 Virtual Edition: 18-20 November

Welcome back to this week's Take 5. Bit of good news is we are still having the European Congress; it's going to be a virtual event. This is actually the 20th year that IHRSA has been putting on the European Congress. I've had the opportunity to attend numerous of those and participate in those over the years. They're fabulous events. This year, we've got a great lineup of keynote speakers, some really interesting sessions and panel discussions. And perhaps the highlight that I'm really interested in is on the last day, we're actually going to have a worldwide virtual club tour featuring some of the top clubs around the world, and a lot of the different models, if you will.

Member Survey Aimed to Enhance Experience & Value Completed

Also thanks to all of you that recently completed the member survey about IHRSA's publications and products so we can evaluate and have some feedback on what your interests lie in and where you perceive value to be. Thanks also to ClubIntel, one of the great industry consulting groups, that donated their time and their expertise to help collect this information. IHRSA greatly appreciates that.

IHRSA Headlight Teams Developed to Reimagine IHRSA & the Industry

I mentioned several times that I've developed headlight teams here at IHRSA, and the headlight team basically consists of at least one board member, at least one IHRSA staff member, and then a collection of industry experts that have knowledge in a particular area. And their task, essentially, is to explore, evaluate, and then come back to myself and the IHRSA team, including the staff and board of directors, with recommendations and advice on how we might modify all these different aspects of your association as we go forward. And these are about finance. It's about technology. It's about publications. It's about the IHRSA Foundation. It's about the ILC, now renamed to the National Health & Fitness Alliance.

So anyway, there's a dozen of those teams working really hard to make sure that we have the best information possible, and the best guidelines to sort of reimagine the industry, as I've said numerous times.

One of those is a taskforce that has been commissioned to actually look at a safe mark for clubs that would established those clubs that are willing to come in and place their support toward maintaining a safe environment, not only by IHRSA standards, but also by CDC standards, and also the local ordinances and recommendations depending on where they are geographically.

Supplier Town Hall Meeting

Another outcome of these headlight teams that was formed around getting the information back on relationships we have with suppliers is that we're now going to be launching … next week, many of you will be getting invitations, if you're a supplier, about a State of IHRSA Town Hall meeting, where we're going to answer a lot of your questions. I'm going to give a little bit of information about what's going on here at IHRSA, and then we're going to let each of you in the audience, you know, formulate questions, and I'll try and answer for you as well. That's something that was asked for and we want to deliver that as soon as possible.

Medical, Science, and Health Advisory Council Update

I also mentioned last week that we're in the process of formulating a Medical, Science, and Health Advisory Council. That's underway, invitations and recruitment is going on as we speak. This is going to be an outstanding group. And I look forward to sharing the people that are on them with you very soon.

The Health & Fitness Recovery Act of 2020 (H.R. 8485) Update

Another bit of good news, the Health Relief Act 2020 bill has been getting great support thanks to all of you that have already participated. So far, there's already been over 3,000 individuals that have taken action and there's been almost 10,000 letters sent to Congress on our behalf. Again, to get some relief for our industry, which has been battered so heavily by the pandemic.

National & International Research

We're also intensely focused even more than in the past around research, particularly related to COVID and how safe clubs can be. So we're working not only domestically ... we have three or four different products and groups that we're working with and [will] develop some more research around this topic. We're also reaching out and doing some research globally with some of our partners around the world. If you need information about some of the research that is out there and help tell the story that clubs are safe then please reach out to IHRSA and we can direct you to all those research programs that are going on.

And that's a couple of great examples of how some clubs are taking it to their members and creating this message: Saco Sport & Fitness up in Maine and Newtown Athletic Club in Pennsylvania. They've taken the check-in data that they have with their specific club and the fact that there's been no transmission of COVID or contract tracing back to their clubs, and they're promoting that front and center. As you can see, in this video, some great examples of how to make that really meaningful in your own situation in your own backyard.

Research Still Shows that Clubs Are Safe

Some sad news, or, unfortunate news, I should say, coming out of Canada. There's a spin class gym in Canada in the city of Hamilton that's had an outbreak, unfortunately, here in the last couple days. I believe there's 49 cases traced back to this gym. Of course, that's getting a lot of publicity about, once again, gyms are unsafe. That's sad news for us that we continue to have these things arise. But this probably won't be the last, of course.

The good news is the majority of the research that's out there is still pointing to the fact that clubs are relatively safe, as long as the protocols are followed, and the standards of sanitation and cleanliness and air filtration are in place, we're seeing very little occurrence of COVID transmission in clubs. Not only here in the United States from some of the data that we've been collecting, but also independent sources like the Colorado State of Health Department and Department of Health in Louisiana. And you can go to their websites and actually see where the contract tracing has pointed to as far as cases of COVID. And fortunately, health clubs are way, way down on the list. And in actuality, in Colorado, there's been zero cases reported compared to other types of facilities that the public might visit. So we're excited about that.

And then there's also global research, of course, the other countries are going through things similar, so there are studies going on in Norway, in Oslo, in New Zealand. We're on top of that, and we're bringing in information here in the United States as well again, to help build this narrative that clubs are safe, and that's true. As long as the protocols and safety measures are followed. There's a very slight chance of individuals contracting COVID in clubs.

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

Related Articles & Publications

Author avatar

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.