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Why Some Club Operators Aren’t Attending IHRSA 2020 Due to Coronavirus Concerns

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IHRSA 2020

As of March 11, the IHRSA 2020 convention and trade show is proceeding as planned from March 18-21 in San Diego, California. 

However, 40-plus vendors — including Life Fitness, Precor, Technogym, Myzone and Matrix Fitness — have announced their withdrawal from the annual event, citing concerns surrounding COVID-19, or the coronavirus. Some club operators are following suit, deciding to no longer send their teams to IHRSA 2020. This includes Midtown Athletic Clubs and In-Shape Health Clubs. 

According to Jon Brady, the president of Midtown Athletic Clubs, the decision not to attend IHRSA 2020 came after careful consideration. 

“Up until last week we were still going,” said Brady. “We were planning on taking some precautions, such as making sure everyone had hand sanitizer. We were going to be sensible in where we went and what we did.” 

However, as the global situation surrounding the coronavirus continued to develop, and sponsors began announcing their withdrawal from the show, Brady explained they began re-evaluating the decision to send teammates to IHRSA 2020. In fact, some associates were facing pressure from family members not to travel during this time.  

“We want to be considered a great employer, and we don’t want to put people in a situation where they feel under duress or pressure,” said Brady. “We want to listen and be thoughtful. We’d already communicated with our associates and members in our clubs about the precautions we were taking in-club, and we changed sick leave policies to make sure people didn’t feel the pressure to come into work if they’re not feeling well. At that point, we’re doing all of that and taking all these precautions — not going to IHRSA really is a small price to pay. We decided at that point to pull the plug on going.” 

In-Shape Health Clubs is also no longer sending teammates to IHRSA, citing concerns surrounding the coronavirus and flu. 

“At In-Shape our number one priority is keeping our team members and members safe so they can live happy, fit and healthy lives,” said Francesca Schuler, the CEO of In-Shape Health Clubs, in a statement. “With this top of mind and the spread of the flu and coronavirus, we’ve made the decision that our team will not attend IHRSA this year.” 

Schuler went on to say the organization would continue to follow the recommendations from the CDC and the state of California, where the brand is based. “We feel this is the best and most responsible decision for our team and for our members,” she added. “We will miss seeing everyone this year but look forward to a productive 2020 — together changing more lives through fitness.” 

A number of events surrounding IHRSA 2020 have been canceled, including WIFA’s annual reception, and the BASH for Augie’s Quest. Augie’s Quest will still hold an online auction for those interested in supporting the organization.

As Midtown Athletic Clubs no longer has the opportunity to meet with vendors in person at IHRSA 2020, Brady said they plan to supplement via video conference, or will connect with vendors later in the year. 

“People are going to make their own decision and that’s totally fine,” said Brady. “We just decided what was best for us and our people.” 

Are you attending IHRSA 2020 or opting out? Let us know why in the comments.

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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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