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Experienced fitness operator addresses clubs’ ongoing hygiene and business challenges

Experienced fitness operator addresses clubs’ ongoing hygiene and business challenges
May 14, 2020

Experienced fitness industry executive David Norman's new venture Fitbodonline has released an industry specific 'Gym Safe' sanitiser and portable stand and automatic dispenser.

Norman, the founder of EYE Fitness, who recently returned to Australia from his role as Head of Fitness with Virgin Active Health Clubs South East Asia, launched Fitbodonline to meet the demand for at-home fitness products.

However, with Pilates & Co, the Gold Coast studio that he and his wife operated, forced to close due to Coronavirus restrictions in March, he moved to source hygiene products not only for his studio but also for other operators.

As Norman explains "we needed this equipment for our studio but discovering it was required by other operators we moved to work with trusted manufacturers to develop a solution for the industry.

"Future solutions we can supply if demand exists will include smaller pump bottles, masks, gloves, and thermometers so we can be a 'one stop shop' for the post COVID-19 ‘clean me, trust me’ conditions.

"While Fitbodonline has also supplied innovative fitness best sellers like freeform boards, hyperwear weighted vests to commercial facilities from Crunch, Virgin Active, EMF and 12 Round in recent times, we hope this dedicated Gym Safe range can be trusted and help us all win back our customers and re-grow our businesses."

Reflecting on the recent challenges he has faced, Norman advised “as a long time industry operator, supplier and contributor - presenting, writing, consulting, I like all of us had their worlds changed for ever as our studio was forced to temporarily close in March.

"My wife and I and our family had just returned from working in South East Asia for Virgin Active to settle back at home and grow and expand our Reformer Pilates Studio. Luckily, we did not sign a new lease as we were then about to navigate the pre-closure requirements with reduced class times for extended cleaning between classes, reducing capacity from 10 to eight and providing sanitiser, social distancing and non-touch measures. While this was an exercise required, we were all closed shortly after - as per national directives - but it was a good initial learning as we are now set to ramp back up.

"So here we are nearly two months on, and we are very excited by Queensland's re-open date of the 12th June but equally thankful of the online community and library we have created in this period and the future of ‘memberships’ being perhaps online and face to face.

"What we all know is things will not be the same, or at least for some time."

Norman has also used the closure period to reflect on his studio business, the industry, and the online fitness product supply business.

He states "when listening to many industry podcasts and live Zoom chats, and Thomas Plummer certainly resonated with me the most, albeit if he does have an American bias to his advice. The key message was on building trust, which got me thinking specifically for re-opening face to face operations.

"For our studio we have looked to generate trust with our existing members so that they feel safe to return but also for new members unsure where to start, as their facility may not re-open, or it may be restricted in operations or simply didn’t deliver the care or cleaning or trust required."

Norman created a list of ‘to-do actions’ in three stages, covering physical improvements to the club and preparing it for reopening; a two-week pre-re-opening countdown; and how to approach operations in the first 90 days from reopening.

Norman can provide his 'Clean me, Trust me checklist' on request.

Reflecting on Thomas Plummer's advice, Norman adds "everything Thomas discussed on his interview was about ‘Trust’ and the majority of this related to cleaning and communication.

"I for one, want our industry to emerge from this as a trusted and essential provider for physical and mental wellbeing as we all know we are.

"However, if we don’t put on a united front and all put equal safekeeping measures in place for our members I feel as an industry we will fail at being trusted together.

"I believe we want experiences at every facility on a similar par and not worlds apart.

"Richard Beddie (Chief Executive of the Exercise Association of New Zealand) recently used the great example of supermarkets – one adhering to their national requirement of one in/one out, clear social distancing markings, cleaning trolleys between use and automated hand sanitizer on entrance and departure and another having none of these.

"Confidence and preference would surely sit with the first option.

"While this may be great for some businesses to capitalise on, as an industry I feel we would look amateur if this occurs here. I know Fitness Australia, Australasian Leisure Management and Active Management, and I’m sure others, have collated and provided many resources and considerations.

"I hope all businesses review so we collectively represent trust. We know we have great databases for tracking our members visits unlike pubs and cinemas so in the event of a second wave of Coronavirus outbreaks we can be a pillar of strength.”

Click here to contact Fitbod Online via their entry in the Australasian Leisure Management Supplier Directory.

Images: David Norman (top), Gym Safe safety notice (middle) and a saniter station (below).

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7th May 2020 - ExerciseNZ advises Parliament on fitness during alert level two

6th May 2020 - Fitness Australia survey finds Australians keen to renew gym memberships

4th May 2020 - Fitness and wellness Industry organisations publish reopening guidance

1st May 2020 - Fitness Australia report shows massive impact of Coronavirus closures on the industry

28th April 2020 - Facing up to the Fitness Industry’s post lockdown challenges

23rd April 2020 - Fitness Australia says gyms can safely reopen within strict framework

23rd April 2020 - Planning for a post Coronavirus fitness industry that will not be the same

22nd April 2020 - Australasian fitness industry looks to post Coronavirus operations

22nd April 2020 - ExerciseNZ highlights that gyms’ commercial leases need to be regulated

7th April 2020 - Two-thirds of the world’s fitness clubs are currently closed

31st March 2020 - With clubs closed fitness providers go online

20th March 2020 - Virgin Active closes Singapore gym after two positive Coronavirus tests

19th January 2020 - When Pilates ceased being a trademark and became a generic term

5th January 2020 - Pilates 100-year journey to be a global fitness phenomenon

6th March 2017 - EYE Fitness and Synergy Fitness join in merged equipment supply venture

14th September 2015 - Virgin Active ramps up growth plans in Australia and East Asia


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