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Roundtable Recap: Reopening Revelations Continued


On May 13, REX Roundtables and Club Solutions Magazine presented the sixth installment of a weekly virtual roundtable series aimed at helping clubs navigate through the COVID-19 crisis, sponsored by FITLIFE

Panelists included Frank Lawrence, the CEO of Little Rock Athletic Club (LRAC); Mary Olson, the general manager of LRAC; Kelly Snook, the communications director of LRAC; 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 communications strategies and operational best practices when reopening.

Lessons from the Reopened LRAC 

  • Require members to check-in. This way, if someone tests positive for coronavirus, you can do contact tracing. 
  • LRAC has created a new department called “Health Guards.” Members of this team are responsible for enforcing social distancing and member cleaning responsibilities, and cleaning and sanitizing.
  • LRAC will be reopening the club in phases week by week, adding services as time progresses. 
  • According to Olson, members are thrilled to be back and were desperate for community and socialization. “You see the joy on their faces being able to come back,” she said. 
  • Lawrence advised being flexible and fluid, as the situation is changing constantly. 

Communication Strategies 

  • In terms of communication strategies, LRAC advised bullets or videos in lieu of long paragraph descriptions of new policies. 
  • LRAC has installed in-club signage outlining new member policies, cleaning practices and social distancing guidelines throughout the club. Each sign has a QR code that members can scan to get information on what products are being used to clean and sanitize. In addition, the club’s “Health Guards” also carry around cards that have info on cleaning products. 
  • Keep messaging positive and uplifting. 

Operations Best Practices 

  • Some club operators are considering reopening in violation of their state’s orders. The panel advised against doing this, as you could open yourself up to liability and risk, in addition to negative press. 
  • McBride suggested updating your waiver to include risk coverage for not just COVID-19, but all infectious diseases and virtual and off-site fitness. 
  • According to the panel, most states aren’t requiring temperature checks of customers, only staff.
  • Clubs are embracing virtual fitness and recognizing its value. For example, LRAC is building out a production studio in one of its facilities where they can record classes. 
  • “Stay true to who you are — stay true to your values,” said Snook. 

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

UPCOMING: Don’t miss the seventh installment of our virtual roundtable series, “Successful Strategies for Shaping Your Future: Reopening Learning Lessons” on May 20 at 2 p.m. EST, in partnership with REX Roundtables and Club Solutions Magazine and sponsored by The Sanitize Guy. 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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