As gyms begin opening up across the U.S., each has restrictions and state guidelines to follow. Regardless if your members must stay six feet apart or wear masks or gloves, for example, it is important to enforce these rules to remain in compliance.
However, enforcing these guidelines can prove challenging. How can operators do so in a way that’s understanding of member frustrations; while still maintaining compliance?
In Texas, people are required to wear both masks and gloves inside of gyms. Anton Conlon, the CEO of Gold’s Gym El Paso in El Paso, Texas, said in order to manage member expectations, they ensure all members are aware of the rules through a number of member communications, including signage on the doors and throughout the facility.
“If at point of entry members do not have [gloves and/or masks] and are not happy, we politely but firmly say that these are state mandated guidelines, rather than our internal policy,” said Conlon. “This eases the burden of having to deal with disappointed members. Ultimately, they understand.”
Larry Conner, the president of Stone Creek Club & Spa in Covington, Louisiana, said in order to hold members accountable they have had conversations emphasizing that social distancing and cleaning are a shared responsibility.
“We’re in it together and if any of this breaks down and people don’t take it seriously, we’re going to have an issue,” explained Conner. “I’ve already seen the fire marshals shut off parts of operations of business around here because they’re not supposed to be open or they’re not doing it correctly. It is a shared responsibility.”
On the first day Stone Creek reopened, Conner had a member who was not wiping down the equipment after they used it. Conner had to talk to the member and explain the rules and the why behind them. After this conversation, the member happily obliged.
Conner said if a member refuses to follow the restrictions and they’ve talked to them about it and they still refuse, their membership will be placed on hold. “I will tell them they cannot come back till this is over with or until they start doing it,” said Conner.
Enforcing rules and regulations per your state guidelines may not be easy, but it’s important to ensuring your facility can stay open and prevent negative PR. Many operators have warned it just takes one person with a phone taking a picture of a member or employee not in compliance of state rules to cause a PR nightmare.
Having these conversations with members can be challenging, but they are vital for the success of reopening and the future of health clubs in a post-pandemic world.