Check Out the ​​​​​​​Responses to Questions from Club Industry’s Town Hall on Reopening the Fitness Industry

Steve Capezzone, CEO of Healthtrax, shares his responses to some of the unanswered questions from the April 15 Club Industry town hall, “How Club Owners Are Adapting During Crisis and Preparing for Their Reopening,” on which he was one of the panelists along with Jim Worthington, owner of Newtown Athletic Club; Adam Zeitsiff, CEO of Gold’s Gym International; and Cory Brightwell, co-founder and CEO of Chuze Fitness. That virtual town hall, brought to you by Matrix, is now available on-demand here.

The questions have been categorized by type, and in some cases, similar questions have been combined.


Q: What is this survey sent out to members? Can they explain it more?

Capezzone: This is a free survey from MXM and Blair McHaney. The focus is on how your members are feeling now about what will be most important to them when they come back.

New Operating Protocols

Q: What do you think of thermometers?  Scanning foreheads upon checking into the gym? Could we get a recommendation of thermal scanners that are available, affordable and accurate?

Capezzone: We have an $85 per scanner from a company called Light in the Box. We’ll check staff upon entering.

Q: What are your ideas for controlling access based on capacity? For example: if you can only have 50 people in an area with social distancing, how can people sign up to come to the gym?

Capezzone: We will do online registrations for classes and ensure we have six-foot separation in workout stations.

Q: What technology options have you seen that could support operators to regulate club usage?

Capezzone: Motionvibe

Q: Will you be eliminating any amenities you currently offer, such as towel service?

Capezzone: Yes, we will be eliminating towel service.

Q: How long do you do the extra safety precautions and do you think it will set a precedent that members will learn to expect long term?

Capezzone: Until there is a vaccination, which I anticipate will be 12 months.

Q: I own a gym in Arizona where there is a shutdown for indoor gyms. The executive orders thus far do not specifically prohibit having an outdoor gym. What are your thoughts on my idea to set up one?

Capezzone: If you have space and capital resources, it makes sense in Arizona.

Q: How would you approach personal training when coming back?

Capezzone: I’m not sure you’ll have it by the time you open.

Q: How do you plan on keeping track of members in and out?

Capezzone: Check-in software and door ambassadors.

Q: Fantastic session! How are you grappling with the dynamic in operating clubs across various municipalities, each of which likely will have their own requirements for opening?   Do you have to operationalize the most restrictive measures across all clubs?

Capezzone: We anticipate the measures will be similar, but we will adapt if not.

Q: Will the industry align with OSHA , the healthcare system & CPR companies to upgrade protocols

Capezzone: We will be aligning with our healthcare partners.


Q: How are gyms going to address anticipated social distancing requirements given current equipment layouts norms? How will social distancing effect both new and current club layouts?

Capezzone: Set up stations six feet apart, every other cardiovascular piece, one person per lap lane and group exercise pre-registrations.

Q: How are you going to handle the children in your club? Do you plan to open Kids club?  If so, how do you plan to handle social distancing in Kids Club?

Capezzone: We will not open kids area in phase one.

Q: For any of the gyms with youth-focused programming, do they think they will reopen that segment of business in the beginning or wait until later knowing that schools may or may not open in September?

Capezzone: Most will wait and align with school systems.

Q: Any information that you have when it comes to camps or outdoor water parks?

Capezzone: Waiting for government regulations.

Q: Are you going to be using your water fountains and bottle fillers when you reopen?

Capezzone: Closed in phase one.

Q: Any thoughts on shutting down steam and sauna at first?

Capezzone: Closed in phase one.

Q: What are your thoughts on social distancing and pools?  We have 3 pools in our facility. Resistance pool (1 person limit), family pool, and a 7-lane lap pool.

Capezzone: One person per lap lane in pools and we are closing hot tubs.

Q: For those with basketball courts, where do you see opening up to basketball play in your staging models?

Capezzone: We are re-purposing basketball courts for group exercise.

Q: What would be your recommendation for FC locations, that may have a lot of equipment? Should we minimize what we have and focus on member recommendations and make sure the distance is between units?

Capezzone: You will be mandated to social distance. Seeing six feet apart.

Q: If we're mandated closed, can we still come into gym to do renovations?

Capezzone: Not if staff is furloughed.

Q: How do you think this will affect future construction and new club openings?

Capezzone: I would negotiate a tiered rent ramp up because new clubs will take longer to ramp up.

Sales, Marketing and Overcoming Members’ Fears

Q: Understanding that the timing and tone of our message will be important upon re-opening, how have you created and prioritized your marketing plan and message as you prepare to reopen? How do you plan to address the fear factor to give people confidence that they are safe in your environment?

Capezzone: Lots of communication on new code of conduct for sanitizing and disinfecting.

Q: Our organization operates a number of fitness facilities and we are working on developing a strategic marketing plan that assumes the club will open in phases. How do you think is the best way to approach marketing in this type of model? Do you think that members should be the main focus, or should leads and prospective members be taken into consideration as well?

Capezzone: Our focus will be getting current members back in phase one. We will do a summer free campaign for new prospects.

Q: How are you staying in touch with your club members?

Capezzone: Through social media, emails, website.

Q: How will retaining clients change with potentially less clients returning?

Capezzone: Most important focus in phase one.

Q: What can the industry do to educate members, staff and future members why the industry is safe?

Capezzone: Push out lots of information.

Q: Any thoughts on possible new pricing strategies if we open with limited services, no classes or limited attendance in classes and possibly the gym?

Capezzone: We are in process of discussing our pricing strategy upon reopening.

Risk Management

Q: Are any of you going to implement a required signed waiver once reopen to protect you from and if someone does get COVID19 after you open?

Capezzone: Can’t hurt to add it to your waiver. Might not hold up, but good to add it.

Q: I think the temperature checks are a good idea in theory, but I'd be concerned with such being not only unconstitutional but also against HIPPA laws?

Capezzone: Not unconstitutional and we will log in our HIPPA compliant WELLD portal.

Q: How do you plan to handle a situation if one of your members that has recently visited one of your gyms has a confirmed case of COVID-19?

Capezzone: Working on this protocol.

Q: Legality & regulations when reopen and Ee's are displaying symptoms. Can you force quarantine?  Communication to members and other Ee's if member or Ee tests positive? Should you close for a day and clean, then reopen?

Capezzone: Working on protocols but we will close and thoroughly disinfect.


Q: How will you ensure your facility is entirely disinfected for your members before you open, especially if the products to do a deep clean and the products for members to use (hand sanitizer) are not available in time for re-opening?

Capezzone: We are giving ourselves five week lead time for ordering supplies.

Q: What steps are being taken to look at cleanliness standards at facilities moving forward? What does cleaning the club look like once we reopen?

Capezzone: Say sanitizing and disinfecting, not cleaning. Staff continuously disinfecting with hospital-grade products. Deep cleaning at night, thoroughly clean and disinfect group exercise areas after each class.

Q: The supply chain is not there right now for health clubs to reopen from gloves, wipes, masks, disinfectant sprays etc., any info there?

Capezzone: We are told four to five week lead time, so ordering now for June 1.

Q: If disinfectant cleaning products and hand sanitizer are no longer available for purchase or are backordered will you still reopen your facility? What alternatives are you considering?

Capezzone: We began researching backup suppliers three weeks ago.

Q: Are you planning to disinfect to CDC standards?

Capezzone: We see CDC standards as the bare minimum.

Q: How are you dealing with the backlog of cleaning supplies/ masks/glove inventory?

Capezzone: See above.

Q: We used to offer towel service to our members. In light of this crisis, would it be safer to as members to bring their own towels? Would this be a good area to reduce costs due to decrease in revenues we will be experiencing, especially in the first few months/years?

Capezzone: Yes, we will eliminate towels for the foreseeable future.

Q: What fogging equipment?

Capezzone: NextGen electrostatic sprayers/backpacks. Protexus sprayers.

Q: I am concerned about how to effectively disinfect equipment without ruining the electronic screens and the products that are appropriate? Is there an equipment manufacturer who will be on your town hall next week who can answer?

Capezzone: Researched this and products are safe to use on screens.

Revenue, Cash Flow, Billing

Q: How are you managing cash flow and working capital?

Capezzone: Currently, keeping payroll to a minimum. Not paying vendors.

Q: With a potential restriction on the number of members that can access a facility at any given time, what responses or accommodations to membership dues might need to be taken into account?

Capezzone: We are discussing options.

Q: How are you planning to maximize revenue from members that do return? (It's likely that memberships will take time to reach pre-virus levels.)

Capezzone: Focus two weeks prior to opening will be to contact all members and trainers will reach out to all clients.

Q: Do you plan to raise membership fees to recoup costs of COVID shutdown?

Capezzone: No, not initially.

Q: How will you drive memberships through the initial opening?

Capezzone: We will do a summer-free campaign.

Q: When you reopen, will you auto start membership fees?

Capezzone: Yes. We are developing strategies around the appropriate rates.

Q: What do you do about members who want to freeze past our new opening date?  We can't 'afford indefinite freezes, all member billings have been halted.

Capezzone: Setting 60 days as guideline to freeze. We will handle exceptions on a case by case basis.

Q: If you layer, and not all can come in, how will you handle billing to members? Will you decrease fees, not charge everyone, how will that work?

Capezzone: Working on this now.

Q: Are you thinking of going completely cashless, payment for services by credit card only?

Capezzone: Yes, Apple pay.

Q: Thoughts around activating all memberships when we re-open gyms possibly resulting in extremely higher than normal attrition. (Of course might depend on how long this closure lasts)

Capezzone: We intend on contacting members two weeks prior to reopening.

Q: Worries about waking up sleeping dues? Or upset members that aren't ready to come back, maybe financially or still worried about Covid.

Capezzone: See above

Q: How to slow the cancellations if we are now allowed to open at full occupancy?

Capezzone: See above.

Q: How are gyms handling membership billing in this time of closure? Not billing, partial billing, separate virtual membership billing?

Capezzone: See above.

Q: How are the various operators handling dues, billing, not billing? consent to bill and giving services credit for $ billed?

Capezzone: See above.

Q: How do we minimize freezing and cancellation of memberships when we re-open? Please share some ideas you are planning to implement.

Capezzone: Lots of customer contact. Membership team will focus on existing members.

Q: Should we be prepared to entice members to return with incentives?

Capezzone: We are looking at doubling points in our rewards program.

Q: We are a small independent fitness boutique. Should we scale back our pricing during this time?

Capezzone: We are strategizing around pricing now but considering all options.


Q: How are you preparing for employees returning: notice, rehiring process (or not bringing some back legally), etc.? What are recommended methods for rehiring laid off team members?

Capezzone: We will send letters to staff. Either reinstatement letters or gradually based on business needs.

Q: What are your plans to protect your staff following CDC and OSHA guidelines? How are you changing your staffing model to comply with social distancing once you reopen?

Capezzone: Checking temperature upon entering, requiring face masks, lots of sanitizers throughout the center.

Q: How long can you furlough employees?

Capezzone: Typically, furlough should not last more than a year.

Q: A question about how everyone is handling the PPP- is your understanding of it to be starting to pay employees in order to be forgiven for the 8 weeks when we re-open?? or when you receive the funds (like this week for example) and 8 weeks from receiving them?? hope this makes sense, thanks!

Capezzone: We are waiting for clarity. It is supposed to come with the loan agreement.

Q: We furloughed all staff and can't afford to pay again until we open. How to handle PPP 8 weeks?

Capezzone: We think restrictions were softened, but we are waiting for clarity.

Q: The PPP states that we have 8 weeks from the date of funding to pay out 75% to employees.  What would you advise if we get funded 4/18 and can't reopen until 6/1? Except for senior staff, there isn't much for employees to do in closed clubs.

Capezzone: We are seeking clarity on whether we can push out rehire date closer to our reopening.

Virtual Training

Q: Will a virtual GX offering be a necessity now?

Capezzone: I believe it will until a vaccine is developed.

Q: How are your gyms introducing virtual classes and virtual personal training? Charging, not charging?  And what types of platforms are you using?  Thank you!

Capezzone: We are phasing it in over 30 days. We are using YouTube, Instagram, Facebook and our website.

Q: Would love to know what software/platforms/apps you're implementing or reviewing to bridge the virtual gap and promote engagement in the future?

Capezzone: See above for the platforms we are using.


Q: How are you differentiating the opening process between US and International clubs? is there a difference?

Capezzone: We are studying reopening procedures in China.

Q: Has anyone been advocating with state and local governments on behalf of the industry?

Capezzone: IHRSA and the ILC (part of IHRSA).

Q: Do you think nutrition will play a role in getting customers back in the gym?

Capezzone: Yes, we have RDs reaching out to members.

Q: What is most effective Facebook strategy?

Capezzone: Offer virtual classes, communicate with staff, live streaming nutritional tips, articles.

Q: Has anyone received any money from the SBA?

Capezzone: We are still waiting.