Reopened Gyms Aren’t Spreading COVID-19, IHRSA Tells Governors

(Photo by recep-bg/iStock/Getty Images Plus.) In a letter to governors, IHRSA highlighted the industry’s focus on sanitation and safety protocols prior to reopening, including limiting capacity, implementing practices to help with physical distancing, implementing new sanitation and cleaning standards, and requiring face masks for staff.  

IHRSA sent a letter to every U.S. governor stating that reopened health clubs are not the cause of the continued increase in COVID-19 cases and asking that governors not shut down health clubs that can operate safely, according to a July 7 media release from IHRSA, the trade association for commercial health clubs. The letter was signed by 61 U.S. health club executives who represent thousands of clubs and studios.

“As leaders in the fitness and wellness industry, we value above all else the health and well-being of the millions of members (and staff) who visit the tens of thousands of gyms, clubs and studios operating across the 50 states. We are equally committed to doing our part to help stop the spread of COVID-19—and our members, who are health conscious, share this mindset,” the letter stated.

The letter goes on to state: “There is clear evidence that the fitness industry is not the problem when it comes to the spread of the virus.”  

Of 135 clubs with 3.4 million total check-ins, there had been 0.004 percent positive cases reported in gyms as of June 30, according to an MXM/Medalllia survey.

The letter also shared that contact tracing by the Arkansas government on COVID-19 cases in that state showed that less than 0.3 percent of newly infected people had visited a health club.

It also shared findings of a two-week trial in Norway that found no COVID-19 transmissions occurred in a group of gyms that were allowed to reopen specifically to study COVID-19 transmission. That study led Norway to reopen its gyms.

In addition, no government data has indicated that health clubs and studios are contributing to the spread of COVID-19, according to the letter. Instead, studies have shown that exercise boosts the immune system, and obesity can cause complications for those who get COVID-19.

In the letter, IHRSA also highlighted the industry’s focus on sanitation and safety protocols prior to reopening, including limiting capacity, implementing practices to help with physical distancing, implementing new sanitation and cleaning standards, and requiring face masks for staff.  

The letter was signed by executives at some of the largest health club companies in the country, including Adam Zeitsiff, CEO of Gold’s Gym International; Chuck Runyon, co-founder and CEO of Self Esteem Brands (Anytime Fitness); Matthew Stevens, president and CEO of The Bay Club Company; Vicki Brick, CEO of Brick Bodies; Greta Wagner, executive director and executive vice president of Chelsea Piers Connecticut; Cory Brightwell, CEO of Chuze Fitness; Jim Rowley, CEO of Crunch; Gale Landers, founder and CEO of Fitness Formula Clubs; Cher Harris, general manager at The Houstonian Club; Steven Schwartz, CEO of Midtown Athletic Clubs; and Dave Long, CEO and co-founder of Orangetheory Fitness.

In addition to this effort, IHRSA has made available health club industry state fact sheets that offer detailed explanations of health club operations for all 50 states and the District of Columbia.

Using the state fact sheets, health club operators can show to local lawmakers the importance of physical activity and advocate on behalf of their businesses and the industry.

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