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How the Fitness Industry is Responding to the Coronavirus

IHRSA 2020

As of March 6, cases of COVID-19, also known as the coronavirus, have surpassed 100,000 worldwide, according to Johns Hopkins University.

According to CBS, in the U.S. there “have been 12 deaths in the United States — 11 in Washington state and one in California — and more than 20 states have reported cases of the virus.” 

On March 4, California Gov. Gavin Newsom declared a state of emergency. According to the Los Angeles Times, “Newsom said his emergency declaration is intended to help California prepare for and contain the spread of the coronavirus by allowing state agencies to more easily procure equipment and services, share information on patients and alleviate restrictions on the use of state-owned properties and facilities.”

Amid rising concerns of the spread of the virus in the U.S., the fitness industry’s response has varied. 

As of March 5, the upcoming IHRSA International Trade Show and Convention is proceeding as planned. 

According to a statement released via email by IHRSA, “IHRSA 2020 is proceeding as planned. While there have been event cancellations, primarily in Europe and Asia, cancellations have not been suggested or advised by U.S. government and health officials given the extremely low risk.” 

However, certain vendors have withdrawn from the show citing concerns surrounding the coronavirus, including FreeMotion and Keiser. 

On March 5, Keiser president Dennis Keiser released the following statement: “Given that the coronavirus is still setting daily records in infections and deaths as it migrates globally, Keiser Corporation has made the decision to withdraw from the IHRSA 2020 Convention and Trade Show. As a manufacturer of exercise equipment that has to be touched to be experienced, we feel that we are potentially supporting the spread of the virus rather than trying to stop it. This risks the health and well-being of our customers, staff and potentially all who attend the conference.” 

Similarly, FreeMotion announced on March 5 it had made the difficult decision to withdraw from IHRSA 2020 as well. 

“We believe it is important to act responsibly when considering the health and safety of all people — including our valued employees, global partners and those with whom we associate,” said Dan Toigo, the senior vice president and managing director of FreeMotion, in a statement. “We’ve had a long-standing relationship with IHRSA and will continue to support them.”

Health clubs nationwide have also responded to concerns surrounding the coronavirus. On February 29, Orangetheory Fitness president David M. Carney released a statement on Reddit explaining the organization was monitoring updates from both the World Health Organization and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and encouraging members to stay home if feeling ill. 

“At Orangetheory Fitness, the health and safety of all members and employees is paramount,” stated Carney. “We are reaching out to you today to share some important information and recommended steps you can take amid concerns around coronavirus (COVID-19). First and foremost, all Orangetheory staff have an aggressive program of keeping the studios clean and your health top of mind. We are redoubling our efforts to maintain our standards, for the safety of everyone.”

According to Yahoo! Finance, other fitness chains — including Equinox, Crunch and Gold’s Gym — have also sent memos to their membership bases reassuring them their health is a top priority. 

UPDATE (March 6 at 3:00 p.m. EST)

Life Fitness and Precor have also announced withdrawal from IHRSA 2020:

In a statement, Chris Clawson, the CEO of Life Fitness said: “Due to the continued global spread of coronavirus (COVID-19), Life Fitness has made the difficult decision to withdraw attendance to the IHRSA 2020 trade show in San Diego, California on March 18-21. While we sincerely appreciate the additional steps IHRSA is taking to make the show safe for all attendees, the health and safety of our employees and their families will always be our top priority. We are exploring alternative ways to bring our brand and product experiences to our customers at another time this year.”

Rob Barker, the president of Precor, also released a statement. A partial excerpt is included below:

“The IHRSA convention is one of the most recognized and well-attended fitness events in the world. Precor is fortunate to have been a partner of IHRSA for more than 25 years. We appreciate the value, the learning, and the community that IHRSA brings to our industry.

“However, today we have taken the sad decision to withdraw from IHRSA 2020 due to the recent increase in coronavirus related health risks and rapidly growing concerns expressed by our staff, customers and partners. Also, the Governor of California has recently declared a State of Emergency, and the CDC is advising against large public gatherings. During this rapidly evolving situation Precor continues to serve our customers. We are holding local meetings at customer sites and our two U.S. manufacturing locations are fully operational. We just cannot responsibly attend this large IHRSA event.”

UPDATE (March 9 at 9:00 a.m. EST)

Technogym has withdrawn from IHRSA 2020. The company’s statement is below:

“Considering the global situation generated by the coronavirus outbreak and the recent news on the raising number of cases in California — U.S., Technogym has made the difficult decision to withdraw from IHRSA 2020 Convention and Trade Show in San Diego. Technogym will continue to partner with IHRSA in line with its long term commitment to support the entire industry. But at the moment, we feel that the right decision is to temporary avoid public events and gatherings. The health of our team, customers and partners represents Technogym number one priority. But even in this difficult situation, we cannot stand still. Let’s move everywhere, in gyms, outdoors or at home.”

This story is ongoing. Stay tuned for updates.

Rachel Zabonick-Chonko

Rachel Zabonick-Chonko is the editor-in-chief of Club Solutions Magazine. She can be reached at rachel@peakemedia.com.

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1 Comment

  1. Bill McBride March 8, 2020

    I’m looking forward to IHRSA in San Diego!


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