The International Health, Racquet & Sportsclub Association is reaching out to governors in a plea to reopen states for business with an emphasis on doing so safely.
“We’re reaching out to governors for two important reasons. First, to demonstrate the need for clubs to open as soon as is safely possible. It is vital that state administrators appreciate that health and fitness clubs are integral to the overall health and wellness of their communities,” said Joe Moore, president and CEO of IHRSA, in a statement. “And, second, it’s important that these state administrators are aware that club operators want — and have prepared —to help establish opening procedures that prioritize health and safety.”
When reaching out to each state’s governor, IHRSA shared the following rationale for the importance of health clubs to the health of the state:
- Health and fitness clubs play a central and essential role in the promotion and maintenance of mental, physical, and social health and wellbeing.
- These local businesses provide safe, supportive environments to improve physical and mental health.
- Health and fitness clubs—through the promotion of community health and immunity—are an integral part of the solution to returning citizens to a state of good health
- Fitness is not only necessary for physical health and immunity. It provides extensive mental health benefits, which are critical in a time when many citizens are experiencing sadness or loneliness.
- Peer-reviewed studies show that exercise is a natural antidepressant, a viable treatment for depression (in some cases), and has numerous benefits for people with substance use disorders, particularly those who are suffering during this pandemic.
IHRSA then shared the industry’s commitment to providing safe, supportive places to exercise.
To help clubs with safety procedures and mitigate risk, IHRSA is gathering and sharing best practices. At present, IHRSA and its member clubs are suggesting a four-pronged approach to safety:
- Keeping COVID-19 out of the club by implementing appropriate visitor and staff screenings.
- Minimizing the risk of spread through containment and social-distancing measures.
- Recognizing everyone’s role in minimizing risk through education and encouraging all members and staff to take all the actions possible to avoid spreading the virus.
- Minimizing exposure risk by implementing enhanced, evidence-based cleaning, and sanitation practices.
“We believe clubs should reopen as soon as it is safe to do so,” said Moore. “Our industry is committed to putting the health and safety of their staff, members, and community first.”