Key Operational Questions Before Reopening Your Health Club [LIST]

We’ve put together a list of key questions to consider as you begin to navigate your operational strategy when opening your business following COVID-19 closures.

Kilian Fisher, IHRSA’s International Public Policy advisor, and Carolynn Jordan, IHRSA's Member Communication Specialist, contributed to this article.

As countries slowly begin the process of recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s time to plan how you’re going to resume operations once you’re allowed to open your doors. It’s unlikely that many of your processes will operate as they were before; some will be eliminated entirely, and new processes will become necessary. This can sound like a massive undertaking, but with planning and a solid strategy, you can position your club to reopen, rebuild, and thrive.

We’ve put together a list of key questions and items to consider as you begin to navigate your operational strategy when opening your business following COVID-19 closures.

What areas of your facility will need attention following an extended closure? Consider:

  • Full deep cleaning/disinfection needed from closures, in addition to COVID-19 cleaning
  • Revisions to entryways and traffic flow to accommodate safe distancing
  • Reconfigure equipment: reposition or remove of machines, weights, mats etc.
  • Pools, spas, sauna, and steam room: check drainage, moisture, tiles, etc.
  • Examine your HVAC systems and utilities to determine necessary changes in usage

What technical operations will need review? Plan to:

  • Implement or review existing comprehensive planned preventative maintenance system
  • Determine new cleaning systems and materials like UV treatments or disinfectant fogging machines
  • Increase visibility of cleaning measures with signage and information in member communications
  • Update treatment procedures in spa and wellness areas with consideration for new safety and distancing guidelines
  • Review inventory stock, orders, and plan for extra lead time on purchases

How will your staffing levels change once you reopen? You should:

  • Review staffing structure from scratch and consider a comprehensive training needs analysis
  • Decide if offerings will remain virtual, move back into the club with restrictions, or both
  • Determine the supply and management of personal protective equipment (PPE) needed for different operations
  • Develop policies to ensure working staff are symptom-free and at low risk for previous exposure to COVID-19

What updates, upgrades, or new digital systems will help manage your club operations? Think about how you can:

  • Review membership and online booking systems and software
  • Enhance virtual offerings through your online digital platform
  • Consider a building management system (BMS)
  • Explore potential benefits of risk assessment and management systems

How will you structure your marketing strategy to capture and engage members after reopening? Some next steps:

  • Review use of digital marketing and media platforms used
  • Review and expand target markets to attract a universal fully inclusive market
  • Post images that promote new club changes
  • Share content that supports physical activity as a benefit to healthier immune systems and improved mental health
  • Partner with local businesses (schools, charities, restaurants, etc.) to increase your impact on your community

What does the future of your programming look like? Consider ways to:

  • Evaluate virtual classes you’ve offered while closed and consider incorporating them into your full class schedule
  • Reconfigure on-site group X and training to accommodate social distancing guidelines
  • Connect with community groups and schools to devise and offer new, inclusive programs
  • Contact local health professionals to develop medical referral programs

What changes will need to be made to membership sales and service? Plan to:

  • Consider incentives for loyal members who remained active during closure
  • Explore new membership categories, incorporating virtual offerings, and limited club amenities
  • Re-evaluate your new member onboarding process—move meetings, orientations, and even club tours to virtual models if possible
  • Update waiver/liability clause and contracts if necessary

What planning can you do now to grow and protect your business in the future? Consider how to:

  • Create a structured plan for the possibility of a pandemic resurgence and subsequent future closures or increased restrictions
  • Review floor plans and the possibility of reintroducing equipment
  • Strategize increased class capacity as safety guidelines allow
  • Continually review membership and pricing structures as operations grow and change

There may seem like an infinite number of things to consider as you navigate through an unprecedented situation, but we hope that by answering these questions you will be able to reopen your health club with a solid foundation and a well-thought-out plan to get your business up and running again.

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This article was a team effort by several IHRSA experts.