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Recap: When COVID Strikes Your Club


On July 22, REX Roundtables and Club Solutions Magazine presented the 16th installment of a weekly virtual roundtable series aimed at helping clubs navigate through the COVID-19 crisis.

Panelists included Lisa Gorsline, the president and general manager of Corpus Christi Athletic Club; Laurie Smith, the senior vice president at VillaSport; 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 how to handle a positive COVID occurrence within your facility. 


  • According to the panel, it’s likely inevitable that COVID will show up in your facility at some point within an employee. You need to be preparing now for how you’ll respond. 
  • Fortunately, data conducted by MXM indicates the spread of COVID likely isn’t happening within health clubs. To date, out of 1,008 locations and 9 million check-ins, clubs have had 396 positive cases reported to them. Please visit MXM’s site to submit your data if you haven’t already.  
  • This data indicates that the safety and sanitization procedures and processes clubs are implementing are working. 
  • If a positive COVID case is reported to you by either a member or employee, contact your local Health Department immediately. They will provide guidance on how to proceed, and oftentimes will prefer to handle all communications and contact tracing. 
  • When Corpus Christi Athletic Club had its first positive COVID case in an employee, Gorsline and the club’s owner decided to be transparent with staff and the membership. In addition, to ease concerns, they offered to pay for all employees to get tested, and had 78 employees take advantage of the offer. 
  • According to Smith, it’s important to educate your employees on what the definition of “close contact” is — typically, 15 mins of one-on-one time within 6 feet. According to Smith, security cameras are a great resource for seeing if close contact occurred. Here is an example of VillaSport’s employee in-take form for confirmed cases.
  • McBride also shares examples of in-take forms they use when members and employees report a positive case. 
  • According to Gorsline, when employees do test positive, it’s important to stay in touch with them throughout their quarantine. Some feel very guilty about contracting the virus, or could feel ill. Check in with how they and their families are doing. 
  • Be consistent with how you apply and enforce rules concerning masks and social distancing. 
  • The panel advised to not rely on what’s on your Health Department’s website, as the information isn’t always up to date or accurate. Call and talk with a person. 
  • If a member has a medical excuse for not wearing a mask, consider providing alternatives such as a face shield. 
  • As a reminder, your employees need to be equipped to deal with conflict resolution and know how to de-escalate situations. You DO NOT want members enforcing rules on other members. Role play, role play, role play. 
  • Thankfully, clubs are at an advantage to deal with conflict because they have true relationships with their customers. 
  • Times are stressful. Find ways to bring levity and fun to your club. 
  • McHaney has co-founded the Washington Fitness Alliance. If you’re a club in the state of Washington, consider joining
  • Lastly, following are examples of mask signs at Corpus Christi Athletic Club.

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

UPCOMING: Don’t miss the 17th installment of our virtual roundtable series, “Successful Strategies for Shaping Your Future: Confirming Your Culture Through COVID” on July 29 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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