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Roundtable Recap: Reopening Learning Lessons


On May 20, REX Roundtables and Club Solutions Magazine presented the seventh installment of a weekly virtual roundtable series aimed at helping clubs navigate through the COVID-19 crisis, sponsored by The Sanitize Guy

Panelists included Cher Harris, the general manager of The Houstonian Club; Pete Bakis, the president of Yuba City Racquet Club; Crystal Martin, the owner of Smart Marketing & Public Affairs and the marketing agency for Yuba City Racquet & Health Club; Bill McBride, the co-founder, president and CEO of Active Wellness; and Blair McHaney, the CEO of MXM and owner of WORX health clubs. The discussion was led and moderated by Brent Darden, the founder of Brent Darden Consulting and chair of REX Roundtables.

Following is a summary of top takeaways from the discussion, including attendance reports, marketing tips and more.  

Highlights from the Discussion:

  • As a whole, health clubs across the industry are going above and beyond to showcase they’re prepared and ready for members to come back in a way that’s safe. 
  • Bakis highlighted the California Fitness Alliance, with the goal of safely and responsibly initiating the reopening of clubs throughout the state. 
  • Clubs that have opened first in their areas are reporting a boost in membership sales, especially if other clubs in their area remain closed. The panel reported these sales are mainly coming from customers of competition that have remained closed; and avid exercisers. 
  • Start marketing ASAP, but consider how your marketing messages may need to change post-COVID. “Be careful about being overall promotional or COVID-specific,” said McBride, as customers are beginning to get COVID-messaging fatigue. Consider customer testimonials instead. 
  • Clubs that have opened are reporting an average of 30 percent of their normal visits in the first week; and that has jumped to upwards of 70% two or three weeks in. 
  • Operators are being flexible with freezes and cancels — balancing the needs of the customer with the financial needs of their clubs. 
  • Look at CDC guidelines for insight on what you must do legally if an employee or member tests positive for COVID-19. However, also consider optics beyond the CDC guidelines. Is transparency best? 
  • When it comes to personal training, take control of your client list, said Bakis. At his clubs, some trainers were saying clients didn’t want to come back, and others were saying they were ready — don’t leave it in your trainers’ hands to decide, as they may have personal biases. 
  • Currently, masks are the No. 1 most controversial issue among the membership and the trickiest to navigate. Also, don’t assume all members have masks. If you can get your hands on masks to pass out or provide to the membership, consider doing so. 

To access the on-demand version of this webinar, click here

UPCOMING: Don’t miss the eighth installment of our virtual roundtable series, “Successful Strategies for Shaping Your Future: The Road to Rebuilding” on May 27 at 2 p.m. EST, in partnership with REX Roundtables and Club Solutions Magazine and sponsored by Sports Solutions. Limited seats are available. Click here to reserve your spot.

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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