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Podcast Episode 4: Navigating the COVID-19 Crisis with Blair McHaney

shut down

Across the U.S., health clubs are temporarily closing their doors in an attempt to slow the spread of COVID-19, also known as the coronavirus. This includes Blair McHaney, the CEO of MXM, whose own clubs in Washington State had to close on March 15.

In episode #04 of the Club Solutions Magazine podcast, host Rachel Zabonick-Chonko spoke with McHaney about how to communicate with members and staff during a shut down, what clubs need to prepare for, new products being released to the fitness industry that can help during the crisis, and how to maintain hope.


  • Last week, WORX was still open. At first, members were so thankful and were applauding the decision. However, after taking a deep dive into the data surrounding COVID-19, particularly in Chelan County, the decision to close became imminent. “We looked at each other and said, ‘We have to shut down,’” said McHaney. Soon after, the state mandated them to.
  • If your clubs haven’t closed yet — be prepared for the likelihood they could. McHaney thinks clubs should be prepared for a three-month shut down in some states. Go ahead and prepare your staff — research what unemployment benefits may be available. Do research and develop a communication plan.
  • You have to communicate with your staff constantly throughout the shut down. You don’t want to them to be emotionally unmoored, as hopefully you’ll be able to bring them back on.
  • Look at ways to serve your community online. WORX will be hosting a “Home Quarantine Myzone Challenge,” for example, and is helping the elderly in its community go grocery shopping.
  • McHaney was able to defer rent for three months. If you have to shut down, get with your bank, landlord and creditors immediately to let them know what’s going on and see what assistance you can get. Don’t assume you have to come up with the cash right away.
  • MXM is releasing two free resources to help the industry during this time:
    • Crowdicity — free ideation platform that people can submit ideas on. Going to curate these ideas into best practices that can be shared with the industry. Launching today.
    • Healthy Club Survey — learn your members’ perspective on if you’re following best practices when it comes to cleaning and sanitizing. Launching in the near future.
  • According to McHaney, the expectations surrounding cleaning and sanitizing are moving to another level after this crisis. It has to be a core competency. People are now cleaning as if their business’ life depended on it — because it does. Be prepared to never, ever let up on your cleaning and sanitizing practices moving forward.
  • Even if you don’t have a bunch of cash, take this time to innovate and think about ways you can improve your business. Also, prepared for what you’ll do when you can reopen.
  • Create a peer group you can lean on during this time. Let’s start talking to each other. Start conversations on Facebook, LinkedIn, etc.
  • Take the crisis seriously, and take it seriously now so the economic impact is shorter, not longer.
  • According to McHaney, this will lead to a reset in our industry. Take the opportunity, if you have downtime, to constantly be reaching out to members and employees. It will get better. This too shall pass.

Be sure to subscribe to the Club Solutions Magazine podcast on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, and SoundCloud.

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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