IHRSA Urges a Four-Pronged Approach to Reopening, Urges Governors to Open Health Clubs When Safe

IHRSA has reached out to governors across the country to share the need for health clubs to open as soon as it is safe, the trade association and lobbying group for commercial health clubs announced. IHRSA also is urging health club operators to follow a four-pronged approach when reopening.  

“It is vital that state administrators appreciate that health and fitness clubs are integral to the overall health and wellness of their communities,” Joe Moore, president and CEO of IHRSA, said in a media release from IHRSA.

IHRSA used state lobbyists and IHRSA staff members to reach out to governors, and Moore sent letters to each governor, IHRSA spokesperson Meredith Poppler told Club Industry. IHRSA is also reaching out to chambers of commerce and other state administrators. The association is communicating that health club operators are establishing opening procedures that will keep members healthy and safe.

To mitigate risk when clubs reopen, IHRSA is recommending a four-pronged approach that starts with screening staff and members for COVID-19. The second step involves implementing social distancing and containment measures. Club operators also must educate all staff and members about how to stay safe because everyone plays a role in minimizing the spread of COVID-19, according to IHRSA. And club operators need to implement enhanced, evidence-based cleaning and disinfecting practices to reduce exposure risk.

IHRSA did not offer specifics, such as containment measure ideas and cleaning protocols, in any of these four areas. However, IHRSA is working with industry leaders as well as the U.S. Surgeon General, the World Health Organization and others to identify and collect safe practices to provide guidance on safely and successfully reopening, Poppler said.

"Because the industry is comprised of so many different business models--some large, some small, some equipment heavy, som based on personal interaction--we are providing guidance rather than a one-size-fits-all set of guidelines or protocols," she said.

IHRSA also shared 18 safety considerations in this article.

“We believe clubs should reopen as soon as it is safe to do so,” Moore said. “Our industry is committed to putting the health and safety of their staff, members and community first.”

The president specifically noted on April 16 that health clubs should open in phase one of a three-phase reopening plan.

In mid-April, IHRSA hired two lobbying firms to help its existing lobbying firm secure funding on behalf of the fitness industry. IHRSA also joined a business lobbying group that is advocating for a Business and Employee Continuity Recovery Fund that would help secure money for businesses affected by COVID-19. The efforts by these lobbying groups are specific to the federal government, Poppler said.