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Disastrous South African drought impacts fitness clubs

Disastrous South African drought impacts fitness clubs
June 14, 2017

The worst drought in a century is forcing the most stringent water restrictions ever implemented for Cape Town, South Africa's second largest city, and having a major impacting on fitness clubs.

With the Western Cape region declared a disaster area at the end of May, gyms have closed steam rooms and saunas and may soon introduce a two-minute limit on shower usage.

The decision by Virgin Active Health Clubs that they would be shutting their steam rooms and saunas in the Western Cape clubs, a move they estimated would save 650,000 litres of water per month, was not met with an entirely favourable response from members.

Coupled with that announcement, the fitness group also said they were going to stop filling their swimming pools. As a result, if water levels drop to a level where pools can no longer be safely used, they will shut them down as well.

In response, the company’s Facebook page and Twitter account have seen a number of messages asking for alternatives.

One of the main questions is whether a downgrade in facilities will see membership fees discounted accordingly, but replies from the company on social media indicate this is unlikely.

According to Virgin's Head of Changing Business for Good, Wesley Noble, the situation "has really focused our minds and we calculate we’ve saved as much as 10.5 million litres in the region, which is the equivalent of seven extra glasses of drinking water for every resident in the Western Cape".

Virgin Active isn’t the only gym implementing water saving measures at their facilities.

Santie De Kock, Zone Fitness’ National Marketing Manager, said they too have been driving for members to save water while at their respective clubs.

De Kock advised “we've reminded our members that we need to save water, and all bathrooms have notices in them.

"With level four restrictions implemented, we’ll be driving more awareness campaigns and include some general information on how our members can save water at home as well.

"Our facilities do not have swimming pools and our initial evaluation of saunas and steam rooms did not indicate a high use of water at all, but we have since identified the cleaning of the facility might.

"We are now considering alternative cleaning methods, but if none are suitable, we will consider closing the two steam rooms and three saunas we have in total as well."

A while back, Virgin Active started their water saving initiative and replaced their shower heads with eco-showerheads which use about 30% less water, but the company won’t shut down showers altogether.

Company spokesperson, Les Aupiais, stated “we cannot foresee shutting down showers altogether without severely impacting on health and hygiene standards and our members' experience.

"Because the showers are fitted with low-flow eco-showerheads, we believe the drop in litres used, is a reasonable compromise. Most areas where we have saved water have not impacted on our members’ experience."

Cape Town currently has less than 10% of its useable water remaining for its nearly four million residents and has implemented Level 4 water restrictions, which ask residents to limit daily usage to 100 litres per person. The measure is meant to reduce demand and conserve what little water is still available, and means significant sacrifices for residents. 

26th April 2017 - WOW WIPES ROLL OUT ACROSS CLUBS AND FACILITIES

19th January 2017 - VIRGIN ACTIVE LAUNCHES GLOBAL MARKETING CAMPAIGN

17th January 2017 - VIRGIN SPORT ANNOUNCES FIRST INTERNATIONAL EVENTS 

23rd February 2016 - FITNESS CLUBS FACE ONGOING HYGIENE BATTLE 

1st February 2015 - REPORT SUGGESTS ELITE AND GRASSROOTS SPORT AT RISK FROM CLIMATE CHANGE

21st January 2015 - STUDY FINDS DIRTY GYMS TURN AWAY MEMBERS


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