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Recap: Confirming Your Culture through COVID


On July 29, REX Roundtables and Club Solutions Magazine presented the 17th installment of a weekly virtual roundtable series aimed at helping clubs navigate through the COVID-19 crisis.

Panelists included Kate Golden, the director of people and fitness operations at Newtown Athletic Club; Adrian Antigua, the general manager of Gainesville Health & Fitness Centers; John LaRosa, the COO of PNW Club Ventures Holdings; 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, centered on confirming culture through COVID-19. 


  • According to the panel, COVID-19 revealed how challenging working from home can be for staff. Many staff thrive off the energy of members and other staff; as a result, it takes some creativity to keep employee’s spirits uplifted. 
  • It can especially be challenging to keep employee’s spirits up when they’re facing a lot of cancels or freezes — have them focus on the positive every day, even if it’s a small positive.
  • Fortunately, according to the panel, crises oftentimes bring people together. 
  • As leaders, it’s important to remember that employees are also going through a hard time, dealing with personal anxieties and difficulties. As a result it’s important to employ compassion and empathy. 
  • To maintain its commitment to serving the community through shutdowns, LaRosa’s clubs held blood drives, boot camps and even served as COVID-19 testing sites. Newtown Athletic Club also set up a field hospital for potential hospital overflow. 
  • The longer you’re closed, the more challenging it is to stay connected with members and staff and maintain culture. To overcome this challenge with his still-closed facilities, McHaney has invited staff to workout at the club, and they’ve done group workouts outside. 
  • When there’s a lack of information, people make it up. As a result it’s important to remain in constant communication, even if it’s just to say you don’t have any further info at this time. 
  • Golden says a positive of the shutdown has been the brand’s introduction to Zoom. Now, staff who previously couldn’t participate in in-person meetings, and who would have missed out on certain info, can participate. 
  • According to the panel, many staff are afraid they’re going to lose their jobs. 
  • Incorporate culture and core values into new policies, such as cleaning/sanitizing procedures. 
  • Your core values shouldn’t change because of the pandemic. If they have, you had the wrong core values in the first place. After the financial crisis of 2008, McHaney actually rewrote his organization’s core values. 
  • The panel stressed the importance of consistent re-onboarding. McHaney’s clubs “re-onboard” once a year. 
  • “Good character is timeless,” said McBride. 
  • Just like you map out your customer journey/experience, consider doing the same for your staff. 
  • Crises stress how important it is to have the right people! 
  • Concerning masks, the panel explained the vast majority of members supporting mask wearing and the enforcing of mask policies, based on MXM data. 

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

UPCOMING: Don’t miss the 18th installment of our virtual roundtable series, “Successful Strategies for Shaping Your Future: The Revival & Evolution of Personal Training” on August 5 at 2 p.m. EST. 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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