Fitness Industry Roundup: The Good Deeds Continue

    The fitness industry doesn't quit when it comes to helping communities, members, and employees. We've highlighted a few more efforts by gyms, members, and employees who are going above and beyond to give support.

    As the coronavirus outbreak continues to disrupt daily life and while reopening plans begin to take shape, the members of the fitness industry keep looking out for their communities.

    Today, we're highlighting a CEO who is ensuring his employees stay on the payroll, a member running for a cause, collaboration in the industry to keep the public moving, and more.

    Claremont Club CEO Determined to Keep Employees Paid During Closure

    Mike Alpert, CEO of the Claremont Club in Claremont, CA, is fighting hard to keep his staff employed while his fitness center is closed, CBS News reported. “I’d rather be out of work and lose my job than put anyone on the unemployment line,” said Alpert. And that is exactly what he is doing—with help from the club’s members. In order to keep his employees on the payroll and provide health insurance benefits, Alpert is asking members to continue paying their dues through May with the promise to repay them when the club opens again. He believes that this, combined with the help of the federal stimulus package, will enable him to keep his employees on the books through July. And the ask is getting results—90% of his members have continued to pay while the club is closed. Alpert said he has been receiving notes of gratitude from his 260 employees every day. "We're willing to break even or even at a loss this year," Alpert said. "This year is not about money, this year's about people."

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    Read more about Alpert’s efforts to keep his employees paid.

    Vida Fitness’ Three-pronged Approach During COVID-19 Closures

    Washington D.C.-based gym brand Vida Fitness is tackling the coronavirus outbreak closures by putting employees, members, and the community first, according to a company email. Through incoming membership dues, the health club has been able to pay their hourly and salaried employees along with providing benefits. To provide continued service to their members, Vida has been publishing live workouts through Facebook Live and Vimeo. “The world of fitness is changing,” David von Storch, president and founder, wrote in an email, “and we want to make sure we are offering you the best content with the easiest way to access it—both livestream and catalogued.” The gym’s employees and member base were invited to participate in various community outreach events, including work with blood drive events, animal shelters, food banks, and more. During a food drive, Vida volunteers packed over 15,000 pounds of food in three hours, which will be distributed to the elderly population in the D.C. area.

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    Take a look at other Vida volunteer opportunities.

    Finding New Avenues to Help at Avenu Fitness

    Avenu Fitness in Houston doubled down on its mission to provide exercise and workout options to the public. The fitness center has pivoted its video workout program to suit the needs of members and non-members quarantined at home. So far, the health club has put out over 20 workouts, categorized by need: body weight and coach-led; fat loss, mat pilates, dumbbells, strength, beginners, and stretching. This focus on video instruction is allowing the gym to keep trainers employed and home exercisers interested with new content. Through our efforts along with the World Health Organization, Avenu Fitness is sharing their video collection on IHRSA’s free resources page. “For some of you that have been like, ‘Oh my god, these workouts I've been doing, they’re getting boring, they’re getting repetitive,’ now you’re going to have access to hundreds of workouts that are just going to blow your mind because they are with a lot of leading brands in the fitness world that you can have access to on a daily basis,” Avenu Fitness Owner Brent Gallagher said about the page.

    Take a look at Avenu Fitness’ workouts and other free resources.

    Be Strong Gym Fosters Community by Lending Equipment

    Drew Whitted, owner of Be Strong Gym out of Bloomington, IL, did not want members to miss a workout due to coronavirus-related closures—so he let members take the gym home. In an article by CNN, he lent out $40,000 worth of equipment to his members. "We don't want anything left in here," Whitted said he told members. "If our members can't come in and train, we want you to take it home and keep training." Allowing members to take equipment home keeps them connected and adds the benefit of getting families to work out together, Whitted said. Not only has Whitted been generous enough to lend out a large amount of new equipment, but he also plans to keep his eight employees on payroll for the entirety of the pandemic. "My staff will not miss a single dollar for their paycheck for as long as it takes," he said. Although many health clubs are lending out gym equipment to members, Aaron Moore, director of operations at VIDA Fitness, warns that renting equipment could potentially lead to legal or insurance trouble.

    Read more about Whitted’s generosity.

    Recovering Addict Runs 100 Miles to Raise Money for Gym

    Bryon Pickler of Monee, IL struggled with a drug addiction before getting sober in July of 2018. He turned to fitness as an outlet and became a member of Fitness Premier. According to an article by the Chicago Tribune, Pickler took action when he heard the club had to shut down due to the COVID-19 pandemic. He decided to raise money for the club by running 100 miles in his own neighborhood. He ran for 28 hours and 37 minutes while taking the occasional break to refuel and rest. He raised $2,593 that will be distributed amongst the 11 club locations. “I was never judged” by the fitness center’s employees and other members, Pickler said, “that place saved my life.” He wanted to show gratitude for a place that gave so much to him, and also shed light on neighbors helping neighbors weather through this crisis together.

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    Read more about Pickler’s incredible journey.

    How else has the fitness industry stepped up during this global crisis? Let us know!

    Author avatar

    IHRSA Staff @IHRSA

    This article was a team effort by several IHRSA experts.