GET HCM
magazine
Sign up for the FREE digital edition of HCM magazine and also get the HCM ezine and breaking news email alerts.
Not right now, thanksclose this window
FIBO Exhibition
FIBO Exhibition
FIBO Exhibition
Follow Health Club Management on Twitter Like Health Club Management on Facebook Join the discussion with Health Club Management on LinkedIn Follow Health Club Management on Instagram
UNITING THE WORLD OF FITNESS
Health Club Management

Health Club Management

features

COVID-19: Surviving a COVID-19 scare

Your worst nightmare happens – a member with COVID-19 attends three group exercise classes in a period of 18 hours. Sarah Shortt explains how one operator dealt with this crisis while staying open throughout and avoiding community transmission

Published in Health Club Management 2020 issue 9
With the COVID-19 interventions already in place, the gym was allowed to stay open
With the COVID-19 interventions already in place, the gym was allowed to stay open
Many of us had worked in the business when the Christchurch earthquake occurred, so we know what the world looks like when things really go pear-shaped

Learning someone with COVID-19 has been in your gym is every manager’s worst nightmare, however, for the team at the Les Mills-owned Takapuna gym, in Auckland, New Zealand, this was something they’d anticipated.

On learning an infected member had attended three group fitness classes in 18 hours, they had an action plan ready to deploy.

Due to the effectiveness of their preparation and actions, no further cases were discovered – despite 86 members coming into contact with the infected member – and the club was able to remain open for business. So how did their four-part plan enable them to contain the virus and deal with the resultant media attention?

1. Plan ahead
“We took the pandemic seriously early on – talking about it back in January, which meant we were getting organised in February,” says Dione Forbes-Ryrie, MD of Les Mills New Zealand’s chain of 12 gyms.

“We started planning so early on that Exercise New Zealand, our bank, and even our auditor thought we were being over the top!

“But many of us had worked in the business when the Christchurch earthquake occurred – that had seen 24 per cent of our assets in lockdown for 12 months back in 2011 – so we know what the world looks like when things really go pear-shaped.

“When COVID-19 came onto our radar, our immediate thought was, have we got another Christchurch coming at us? We established a critical incident team so we were ready if and when lockdown hit.”

Ironically, Les Mills NZ was already planning to run a practice drill of a COVID-19 case in another of its clubs the week the real-life case was discovered in Takapuna. That meant plans were already in place and draft communications had been prepared for a variety of scenarios.

“This case was clear cut, but it could have gone either way if we hadn’t had processes in place,” says Guy Needham, head of marketing and sales. “Especially when you consider the person visited the club three times in 18 hours.”

2. Communicate
Maintaining timely communication with club members and staff was critical to ensuring everyone felt informed and cared for, as well as avoiding the spread of misinformation.

“Many members have commented on how much they appreciated the strong communications,” explains Forbes-Ryrie. “We were open and transparent, explaining what had happened and when people would be contacted by the Ministry of Health if the case affected them. We also ensured they heard the news from us first, rather than from the media.”

“We were also mindful to engage with our internal team,” says Needham. “We’ve got more contractors on our team, such as group fitness instructors, than we have employees, so it was important they were also kept up to speed with what was happening, because they’re often the people our members are talking to.

“If a member approaches one of our instructors on social media, we want that instructor to have one central source of truth they can refer the member to.”

3. Reassure members
Some members are naturally cautious about returning to exercise facilities after a case has been identified, but when members saw how seriously Les Mills Takapuna was taking the threat, attendances bounced back.

“Attendance declined to 58 percent after the incident,” says Forbes-Ryrie, “but it’s now back to 90 per cent as a result of us communicating the protocols we’ve got in place – as well as the fact we’ve been able to share the news that there have been no instances of club transmission.”

This dip is similar to that experienced after lockdown, when attendance dropped to around 60 per cent, but was back up to 95 per cent after three weeks.

“Confidence has been restored quickly – not only in our existing membership, but also in new prospects. Even with the case happening at Takapuna, the sales team achieved over 70 per cent of its monthly pre-COVID target,” she says.

4. Manage the media
The case generated a significant amount of attention from the press. So how did the business respond?

“We prioritised our members and internal teams,” says Forbes-Ryrie.

“Engaging with the media wasn’t the number one thing on our list, but we knew we needed to get our media communications right.

“We had a lot of requests for interviews but felt the best way forward was to provide comprehensive answers to their questions, so we did this with a media statement. We also set up a FAQs page on our website at www.lesmills.co.nz/covid-19, that answered a lot of the questions media outlets were asking, such as what we were doing around cleaning, and who might be at risk of contracting the virus. Again, it came back to being transparent.”

Forbes-Ryrie says the reaction from members has been incredibly positive. “We’ve had a lot of people commenting on how well cared for they feel – a letter was published in the New Zealand Herald the other day, praising how well we’ve handled the situation.”

Key facts
COVID-19 case management @Les Mills

• Eighty-six people were recognised as having been in close contact with the infected member who attended group exercise classes at Les Mills Takapuna.

• They immediately went into self-isolation and of these 86 people, all returned a negative result when tested for the virus.

• Due to the club having already conducted extensive deep cleans, the local authority advised it was able to remain open.

• Despite this, the company also conducted an additional full deep clean of the club, followed by an antiviral fogging treatment.

Key takeaways

• Keep ahead of the situation, be ready to act. Be proactive, not reactive

• Run simulations, stress test your systems, practice drills, identify gaps and fill them – make sure you’re ready to handle an incident if it happens

• Have a communication plan ready to go for each stakeholder group – members, in-house staff, freelancers, local authority and health inspectors – and keep these updated

• Organise regular inspections, keep in touch with local health authorities, so they know your baselines for COVID-19 control

• Establish a central ‘source of truth’ to avoid the spread of misinformation

• If the worst happens, focus your energies on looking after your members, your staff and the health authorities, while managing the media effectively by issuing clear statements and using a web-based FAQ

• Ensure your contact-tracing systems are working effectively and audit these regularly

• Track the recovery of member numbers and lovebomb members to reassure them and get them back to the gym

Sign up here to get HCM's weekly ezine and every issue of HCM magazine free on digital.
Dione Forbes-Ryrie, MD of Les Mills NZ’s chain of 12 gyms and Guy Needham, head of marketing
Dione Forbes-Ryrie, MD of Les Mills NZ’s chain of 12 gyms and Guy Needham, head of marketing
Even with the COVID-19 case, the team achieved 70 per cent of its pre-COVID-19 target
Even with the COVID-19 case, the team achieved 70 per cent of its pre-COVID-19 target
https://www.leisureopportunities.co.uk/images/2020/515929_622650.jpg
What would you do if you found out a member with COVID-19 had attended your gym? One club tells its story
Les Mills Takapuna, covid-19, Dione Forbes-Ryrie, Guy Needham, New Zealand,COVID-19, emergency plan
HCM magazine
In the last issue of HCM, we checked with big box operators in the UK to see how trading has been going since restrictions were lifted. This month we turn our attention to boutiques and urban studios to find out how they’re faring. Kath Hudson reports
HCM magazine
In this issue, we’re focusing on sharing insights and thought leadership to highlight opportunities for the development of the sector in terms of both markets and offerings, says Liz Terry, HCM editor
HCM magazine
Research firm Qualtrics surveyed 12,157 consumers across 15 countries in seven languages to create the Les Mills 2021 Global Fitness Report, highlighting the ways consumers are choosing to work out as we emerge from the pandemic. Jak Phillips reports
HCM Magazine
HCM People
What we do as an industry is change lives for the better and we should all be proud of that
HCM Magazine
Mental health
Research confirms the role health clubs can play in supporting people in nurturing their mental health, as Victor Brick explains
HCM Magazine
Research
Focusing on dieting has failed to offset the rising tide of obesity, say researchers from the Universities of Arizona and Virginia. A focus on fitness gives better health outcomes
HCM Magazine
Active ageing
David Minton says the healthy movement industry is ten times bigger than the health club sector, and the care industry four times bigger and ask why we’re not rushing to collaborate?
HCM Magazine
Letters
Fuel the debate about issues and opportunities across the industry. We’d love to hear from you – [email protected]
HCM Magazine
Everyone’s talking about
Booming membership sales, busy suburban clubs and members visiting during the working day. Operators are reporting it’s good to be back. Kath Hudson finds out what business has been like since the re-set button was pressed
HCM Magazine
HCM People
We first started talking to KSL over two years ago, so this was not a rushed partnership
HCM Magazine
Latest News
UK Health clubs, gyms, hotels, pubs and other leisure businesses will all receive a 50 ...
Latest News
Fitness First UK has changed its pricing structure and is now offering a flexible membership ...
Latest News
Boutique operator 1Rebel has launched its first 1Rebel Labs Studio at its club in Holborn. ...
Latest News
The Local Government Association (LGA) has called on the UK government to invest £875m in ...
Latest News
Anthony Hamilton, the father of F1 racing driver Lewis Hamilton, is launching a fitness equipment ...
Latest News
The pandemic has had an "unprecedented" impact on physical activity levels in England, with 1 ...
Latest News
The first énergie Fitness club has opened in Spain as part of a push for ...
Latest News
A global innovation competition has been launched to find ways to encourage and support more ...
Featured supplier news
Featured supplier news: Humanising the member app experience
FunXtion has upgraded its White Label Member App with a raft of new features to support its partners in scaling up and keeping up with rising member expectations.
Featured supplier news
Featured supplier news: Surge integrates Fisikal with HubSpot to drive business efficiencies and grow revenue
As Surge expands its offer with the launch of a third dedicated Electronic Muscle Stimulation (EMS) studio this summer – this time in Fleet Street, London – the brand reflects on the vital role of its estate wide digital ecosystem, created in partnership with Fisikal, designed to drive business efficiencies and commercial success.
Featured operator news
Featured operator news: Everyone Active generates £342m in social value
Award-winning leisure operator Everyone Active generated £342million in social value at its sites across the country in 2019/20.
Featured operator news
Featured operator news: Sporting heroes to officially open £22 million redevelopment at Everyone Active centre
A £22 million redevelopment project will be unveiled at Grange Paddocks Leisure Centre, as part of the official launch of the state-of-the-art centre.
Company profiles
Company profile: InBody UK
InBody provides products that are accurate, medically rated holding a CE mark and certified to ...
Company profiles
Company profile: FunXtion International BV
With our digital member solutions, branded app and branded virtual classes your clients can now ...
Catalogue Gallery
Click on a catalogue to view it online
Directory
Skincare
Sothys: Skincare
Spa software
SpaBooker: Spa software
Wearable technology solutions
MyZone: Wearable technology solutions
trade associations
International SPA Association - iSPA: trade associations
Lockers/interior design
Fitlockers: Lockers/interior design
Red Light Therapy
 Red Light Rising: Red Light Therapy
Whole body cryotherapy
Art of Cryo: Whole body cryotherapy
Independent service & maintenance
Servicesport UK Limited: Independent service & maintenance
Hydrotherapy / spa fragrances
Kemitron GmbH: Hydrotherapy / spa fragrances
Salt therapy products
Saltability: Salt therapy products
Property & Tenders
Welwyn Garden City
Welwyn Hatfield Borough Council
Property & Tenders
Newport, Shropshire
Lilleshall Sports Academy
Property & Tenders
Diary dates
01-03 Feb 2022
Coventry Building Society Arena, Coventry, United Kingdom
Diary dates
07-10 Apr 2022
Exhibition Centre , Cologne, Germany
Diary dates
15-16 Jun 2022
ExCeL London, London, United Kingdom
Diary dates
01-07 Dec 2022
tbc, Dunedin, New Zealand
Diary dates

features

COVID-19: Surviving a COVID-19 scare

Your worst nightmare happens – a member with COVID-19 attends three group exercise classes in a period of 18 hours. Sarah Shortt explains how one operator dealt with this crisis while staying open throughout and avoiding community transmission

Published in Health Club Management 2020 issue 9
With the COVID-19 interventions already in place, the gym was allowed to stay open
With the COVID-19 interventions already in place, the gym was allowed to stay open
Many of us had worked in the business when the Christchurch earthquake occurred, so we know what the world looks like when things really go pear-shaped

Learning someone with COVID-19 has been in your gym is every manager’s worst nightmare, however, for the team at the Les Mills-owned Takapuna gym, in Auckland, New Zealand, this was something they’d anticipated.

On learning an infected member had attended three group fitness classes in 18 hours, they had an action plan ready to deploy.

Due to the effectiveness of their preparation and actions, no further cases were discovered – despite 86 members coming into contact with the infected member – and the club was able to remain open for business. So how did their four-part plan enable them to contain the virus and deal with the resultant media attention?

1. Plan ahead
“We took the pandemic seriously early on – talking about it back in January, which meant we were getting organised in February,” says Dione Forbes-Ryrie, MD of Les Mills New Zealand’s chain of 12 gyms.

“We started planning so early on that Exercise New Zealand, our bank, and even our auditor thought we were being over the top!

“But many of us had worked in the business when the Christchurch earthquake occurred – that had seen 24 per cent of our assets in lockdown for 12 months back in 2011 – so we know what the world looks like when things really go pear-shaped.

“When COVID-19 came onto our radar, our immediate thought was, have we got another Christchurch coming at us? We established a critical incident team so we were ready if and when lockdown hit.”

Ironically, Les Mills NZ was already planning to run a practice drill of a COVID-19 case in another of its clubs the week the real-life case was discovered in Takapuna. That meant plans were already in place and draft communications had been prepared for a variety of scenarios.

“This case was clear cut, but it could have gone either way if we hadn’t had processes in place,” says Guy Needham, head of marketing and sales. “Especially when you consider the person visited the club three times in 18 hours.”

2. Communicate
Maintaining timely communication with club members and staff was critical to ensuring everyone felt informed and cared for, as well as avoiding the spread of misinformation.

“Many members have commented on how much they appreciated the strong communications,” explains Forbes-Ryrie. “We were open and transparent, explaining what had happened and when people would be contacted by the Ministry of Health if the case affected them. We also ensured they heard the news from us first, rather than from the media.”

“We were also mindful to engage with our internal team,” says Needham. “We’ve got more contractors on our team, such as group fitness instructors, than we have employees, so it was important they were also kept up to speed with what was happening, because they’re often the people our members are talking to.

“If a member approaches one of our instructors on social media, we want that instructor to have one central source of truth they can refer the member to.”

3. Reassure members
Some members are naturally cautious about returning to exercise facilities after a case has been identified, but when members saw how seriously Les Mills Takapuna was taking the threat, attendances bounced back.

“Attendance declined to 58 percent after the incident,” says Forbes-Ryrie, “but it’s now back to 90 per cent as a result of us communicating the protocols we’ve got in place – as well as the fact we’ve been able to share the news that there have been no instances of club transmission.”

This dip is similar to that experienced after lockdown, when attendance dropped to around 60 per cent, but was back up to 95 per cent after three weeks.

“Confidence has been restored quickly – not only in our existing membership, but also in new prospects. Even with the case happening at Takapuna, the sales team achieved over 70 per cent of its monthly pre-COVID target,” she says.

4. Manage the media
The case generated a significant amount of attention from the press. So how did the business respond?

“We prioritised our members and internal teams,” says Forbes-Ryrie.

“Engaging with the media wasn’t the number one thing on our list, but we knew we needed to get our media communications right.

“We had a lot of requests for interviews but felt the best way forward was to provide comprehensive answers to their questions, so we did this with a media statement. We also set up a FAQs page on our website at www.lesmills.co.nz/covid-19, that answered a lot of the questions media outlets were asking, such as what we were doing around cleaning, and who might be at risk of contracting the virus. Again, it came back to being transparent.”

Forbes-Ryrie says the reaction from members has been incredibly positive. “We’ve had a lot of people commenting on how well cared for they feel – a letter was published in the New Zealand Herald the other day, praising how well we’ve handled the situation.”

Key facts
COVID-19 case management @Les Mills

• Eighty-six people were recognised as having been in close contact with the infected member who attended group exercise classes at Les Mills Takapuna.

• They immediately went into self-isolation and of these 86 people, all returned a negative result when tested for the virus.

• Due to the club having already conducted extensive deep cleans, the local authority advised it was able to remain open.

• Despite this, the company also conducted an additional full deep clean of the club, followed by an antiviral fogging treatment.

Key takeaways

• Keep ahead of the situation, be ready to act. Be proactive, not reactive

• Run simulations, stress test your systems, practice drills, identify gaps and fill them – make sure you’re ready to handle an incident if it happens

• Have a communication plan ready to go for each stakeholder group – members, in-house staff, freelancers, local authority and health inspectors – and keep these updated

• Organise regular inspections, keep in touch with local health authorities, so they know your baselines for COVID-19 control

• Establish a central ‘source of truth’ to avoid the spread of misinformation

• If the worst happens, focus your energies on looking after your members, your staff and the health authorities, while managing the media effectively by issuing clear statements and using a web-based FAQ

• Ensure your contact-tracing systems are working effectively and audit these regularly

• Track the recovery of member numbers and lovebomb members to reassure them and get them back to the gym

Sign up here to get HCM's weekly ezine and every issue of HCM magazine free on digital.
Dione Forbes-Ryrie, MD of Les Mills NZ’s chain of 12 gyms and Guy Needham, head of marketing
Dione Forbes-Ryrie, MD of Les Mills NZ’s chain of 12 gyms and Guy Needham, head of marketing
Even with the COVID-19 case, the team achieved 70 per cent of its pre-COVID-19 target
Even with the COVID-19 case, the team achieved 70 per cent of its pre-COVID-19 target
https://www.leisureopportunities.co.uk/images/2020/515929_622650.jpg
What would you do if you found out a member with COVID-19 had attended your gym? One club tells its story
Les Mills Takapuna, covid-19, Dione Forbes-Ryrie, Guy Needham, New Zealand,COVID-19, emergency plan
Latest News
UK Health clubs, gyms, hotels, pubs and other leisure businesses will all receive a 50 ...
Latest News
Fitness First UK has changed its pricing structure and is now offering a flexible membership ...
Latest News
Boutique operator 1Rebel has launched its first 1Rebel Labs Studio at its club in Holborn. ...
Latest News
The Local Government Association (LGA) has called on the UK government to invest £875m in ...
Latest News
Anthony Hamilton, the father of F1 racing driver Lewis Hamilton, is launching a fitness equipment ...
Latest News
The pandemic has had an "unprecedented" impact on physical activity levels in England, with 1 ...
Latest News
The first énergie Fitness club has opened in Spain as part of a push for ...
Latest News
A global innovation competition has been launched to find ways to encourage and support more ...
Latest News
Xponential Fitness has acquired Body Fit Training in a deal worth US$44m. The deal takes ...
Latest News
Exercise has been highlighted as a crucial weapon in cancer patients’ battle against the disease. ...
Latest News
The global health and fitness industry is returning to a busy programme of live trade ...
Featured supplier news
Featured supplier news: Humanising the member app experience
FunXtion has upgraded its White Label Member App with a raft of new features to support its partners in scaling up and keeping up with rising member expectations.
Featured supplier news
Featured supplier news: Surge integrates Fisikal with HubSpot to drive business efficiencies and grow revenue
As Surge expands its offer with the launch of a third dedicated Electronic Muscle Stimulation (EMS) studio this summer – this time in Fleet Street, London – the brand reflects on the vital role of its estate wide digital ecosystem, created in partnership with Fisikal, designed to drive business efficiencies and commercial success.
Featured operator news
Featured operator news: Everyone Active generates £342m in social value
Award-winning leisure operator Everyone Active generated £342million in social value at its sites across the country in 2019/20.
Featured operator news
Featured operator news: Sporting heroes to officially open £22 million redevelopment at Everyone Active centre
A £22 million redevelopment project will be unveiled at Grange Paddocks Leisure Centre, as part of the official launch of the state-of-the-art centre.
Company profiles
Company profile: InBody UK
InBody provides products that are accurate, medically rated holding a CE mark and certified to ...
Company profiles
Company profile: FunXtion International BV
With our digital member solutions, branded app and branded virtual classes your clients can now ...
Catalogue Gallery
Click on a catalogue to view it online
Directory
Skincare
Sothys: Skincare
Spa software
SpaBooker: Spa software
Wearable technology solutions
MyZone: Wearable technology solutions
trade associations
International SPA Association - iSPA: trade associations
Lockers/interior design
Fitlockers: Lockers/interior design
Red Light Therapy
 Red Light Rising: Red Light Therapy
Whole body cryotherapy
Art of Cryo: Whole body cryotherapy
Independent service & maintenance
Servicesport UK Limited: Independent service & maintenance
Hydrotherapy / spa fragrances
Kemitron GmbH: Hydrotherapy / spa fragrances
Salt therapy products
Saltability: Salt therapy products
Property & Tenders
Welwyn Garden City
Welwyn Hatfield Borough Council
Property & Tenders
Newport, Shropshire
Lilleshall Sports Academy
Property & Tenders
Diary dates
01-03 Feb 2022
Coventry Building Society Arena, Coventry, United Kingdom
Diary dates
07-10 Apr 2022
Exhibition Centre , Cologne, Germany
Diary dates
15-16 Jun 2022
ExCeL London, London, United Kingdom
Diary dates
01-07 Dec 2022
tbc, Dunedin, New Zealand
Diary dates
Search news, features & products:
Find a supplier:
FIBO Exhibition
FIBO Exhibition