Fitness Industry Roundup: Gyms Are Rising to the Challenge

    Although the fitness industry has been among the hardest hit during the coronavirus crisis, many health clubs are stepping up to help first responders, keep the community together, and provide members (and non-members) with ways to exercise.

    Over a span of a few weeks, the world as we know it has changed. The industry is facing unprecedented pressure as many health facilities are forced to shutter their doors and there’s no telling when life will go back to normal.

    There are many unknowns at this point, but as IHRSA works to provide guidance on the situation, we wanted to highlight some health clubs that have stepped up to the plate and are responding to this crisis with leadership and generosity.

    Fitness Facility to Become Backup Medical Site

    The Newtown Athletic Club’s indoor field house will be turned into a backup medical site to ease local hospitals near Newtown, PA, during the COVID-19 crisis, the club announced recently. The 40,000-square-foot Newtown Sports Training Center, a private athletic training facility, has the capacity to hold over 300 patients, the Philadelphia Business Journal reported. Scott Forster, a local official, told the Philadelphia Inquirer each bed will be equipped to handle patients who need oxygen machines, dialysis, and other treatments that don’t necessitate a fully functional hospital. “The NAC, since 1978, has stood as a staple and cornerstone of the community during some of our nation’s most difficult and trying times,” NAC Owner Jim Worthington said. “This hard time is no different—it is our privilege to be able to contribute and support our community in this small way.” Worthington is the IHRSA Board ex-officio and a member of the President's Council on Sports, Fitness & Nutrition.

    Learn more about what NAC is doing for their community.

    Gym Donates Workout App Proceeds to Food Bank

    Jacksonville Fitness Academy in Jacksonville, FL, is not only providing free workout plans for those who want to keep active while under stay-at-home orders—they are also generating donations for a greater good. Owner Patrick Henigan opened up the club’s Team Training app to the public for $10 per month. The collected funds will go to the Jacksonville Food Bank, which helps keep food on the table for northern Florida children and families, seniors, and active and retired military members. “Any little thing we can do to help people at home stay on track and then also for the greater picture—help people much, much less fortunate than ourselves. We’re going to jump on it and we’re going to do it to help,” Henigan told WJXT-Channel 4 in an interview. According to the gym’s website, the app features six bodyweight workouts per week, with video demonstrations.

    Watch what Owner Patrick Henigan has to say.

    Blink Fitness in Massachusetts Donates Sanitizing Supplies

    Amid supply shortages, a Massachusetts Blink Fitness in late March worked to deliver the gym’s extra sanitizing supplies to police and fire departments, healthcare facilities, and other essential businesses in and around the area. Stephen Stabile, franchisee of the Medford and Beverly locations, shared on LinkedIn how he and his family worked to deliver wipes, gloves, hand sanitizer, and other cleaning products to organizations in need. He wrote, “It felt great to give back to the communities that are always so good to us. Everyone was so appreciative of our donations as their own supplies were completely out or soon to be out.” Blink Fitness in Medford is an IHRSA member.

    Take a look at the photos Stabile shared.

    Industry news Blink Fitness Beverly staff at fire station column

    Blink Fitness-Beverly staff dropping off supplies at a local fire station. (Source: Blink Fitness-Beverly Facebook)

    Gym Opens Doors to Blood Drive

    After closing its doors on March 16 amid the COVID-19 outbreak, Fitness Rangers gym in Sacramento, CA, put the community first by hosting a blood drive in the shuttered facility, according to KCRA-3. Half a day after posting about the event, every slot to donate had been filled with staff, members, and family. The gym hosted the drive along with the American Red Cross. The empty facility was set up to maintain social distancing measures during the event. Along with finding a way to use the empty building, Fitness Rangers also allowed members to take equipment home, rather than let it collect dust, is providing at-home workouts online, and is shoring up cash for personal trainers with T-shirt sales. "We’ve got a tremendous community. This is the time the community really comes together and shows us and we can show them you know, we are a team, we are a family and we can get through anything together," owner Adam Attia told the news station.

    Read the full story on Fitness Rangers.

    Fitness Straight to Your Door

    The Strength Co., a club in Orange County, CA, is bringing exercise equipment straight to their members’ doors—and teaching them how to make their own home gym. "I don't know how long the gyms will be closed," owner Grant Broggi told ABC News. "I want people to keep lifting. I want them to know that we care about them and I want people to know they need to stay strong." Employees have been delivering racks and other weightlifting items to members’ homes over the past few weeks from the gyms’ facilities. Once they ran out of equipment, the staff has been building their own equipment and sharing home gym DIY videos on YouTube. “Only family does stuff like this—brings stuff to your house in a time of need,” one member 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 what else members had to say about the Strength Co.

    Gym Looks Out for Other Small Businesses

    Fit Code in Chicago, an IHRSA member, recently launched the 21-day Stronger Than You Community Challenge to give back to struggling businesses, according to CBS. So far, the four-gym chain has raised $10,000 from fitness buffs looking for an online workout. The club has been offering online workout sessions three times a day, six days a week to members, and asking for a $10 donation per training to go toward the campaign. Those who donate receive a gift card to use once business opens up again. “Literally every day, I almost have a tear come to my eye from someone who’s being so generous, not so much in terms of what they’re donating, but saying, ‘You don’t have to give me a gift card back, give this back to someone else,” owner Shelton Matsey told CBS. Matsey is looking to donate the cash to at least 15 local small businesses.

    Learn more about the Stronger Than You Community Challenge.

    Share with us what your local health club is doing for your community during this time of social distancing.

    Author avatar

    Rachel Valerio

    Rachel Valerio previously served as IHRSA's Digital Content Editor—a position focused on collecting and reporting on fitness industry news, staying on top of IHRSA's social media accounts and website, and hatching new plans to expand the association's digital footprint.