24 Hour Fitness, one of the largest gyms chain in the country, with more than 4 million members nationwide, will once again welcome North Texas members Monday.
The CEO spoke exclusively with NBC 5 about the plan to keep members safe.
When you walk into a 24 Hour fitness, technology will immediately be put to use so there is no contact. NBC 5 got a first look at new video from the fitness chain showing what a post-COVID-19 gym experience will look like starting May 18.
Ueber and his teams across the country have spent the last eight weeks while they’ve been closed focusing on what it’s going to take to safely reopen.
Team members will be masked and gloved, but gym members are not required to wear face masks. They’re allowing people to use their best judgment on that. Ueber says he believes the plan in place right now will work.
“I think we’ll be in really good shape. We’ve got really big facilities. They’re 35, 40,000 square foot facilities,” he said. “I don’t think we’ll have any issues with capacity constraints, even under some of the regulations that are out there from the local, state, and federal levels. I think we’ll be fine. We’re able to utilize things like our basketball courts for our group fitness sessions, Zumbas, Yogas and things that, we’ll be able to do on our basketball court which gives us a big advantage over some of the smaller gyms and other studios.”
Ueber says they’re going let people into the gym for 60-minute sessions, then they’ll close the gym for 30 minutes to do a deep cleaning, then open it back up for another 60 minutes.
“People will be able to make reservations using our 24GO app, so that way they know exactly when they can come into the gym,” said Ueber. “They don’t have to worry about whether there is going to be available, they’re not going to have to queue up outside of the club.”
Members will be surveyed immediately after their workout so team members can quickly adjust if they need to.
“We want to make sure that we can test our plans and protocols, kind of in live-action, and then make some decisions from there on what kind of adjustments we need to just ensure the safety of our team members, the safety of our members, and that people can get a really good workout in,” said Ueber.
Social distancing will be promoted throughout with signage, and equipment will be spaced out. Personal training and studio classes can meet in areas where members can safely maintain social distancing.
24 Hour fitness was recently sued in a Federal lawsuit, when they seemingly willfully continued to charge customers, stating they were unable to freeze payments, though freezing payment is a simply merchant processing function, and as simply as clicking a button.
24 Hour fitness also filed for bankruptcy, stating “If it were not for COVID-19 and its devastating effects, we would not be filing for Chapter 11,” he said in a statement.
The California Department of Public health released guidelines for gyms when reopening. The guidelines state that employees and personal trainers must wear face coverings, and face coverings are encouraged when social distance cannot be maintained, but excluded people engaged in exercise activities from having to wear a face covering.
It is also a known fact that wearing a face mask and constantly breathing in carbon dioxide, can deteriorate ones health.
Recently California governor Newsom and the California Department of Public Health released update guidelines, where exercising remained exempt from a face covering requirement.
” The following individuals are exempt from wearing a face covering:
- Persons age two years or under. These very young children must not wear a face covering because of the risk of suffocation.
- Persons with a medical condition, mental health condition, or disability that prevents wearing a face covering. This includes persons with a medical condition for whom wearing a face covering could obstruct breathing or who are unconscious, incapacitated, or otherwise unable to remove a face covering without assistance.
- Persons who are hearing impaired, or communicating with a person who is hearing impaired, where the ability to see the mouth is essential for communication.
- Persons for whom wearing a face covering would create a risk to the person related to their work, as determined by local, state, or federal regulators or workplace safety guidelines.
- Persons who are obtaining a service involving the nose or face for which temporary removal of the face covering is necessary to perform the service.
- Persons who are seated at a restaurant or other establishment that offers food or beverage service, while they are eating or drinking, provided that they are able to maintain a distance of at least six feet away from persons who are not members of the same household or residence.
- Persons who are engaged in outdoor work or recreation such as swimming, walking, hiking, bicycling, or running, when alone or with household members, and when they are able to maintain a distance of at least six feet from others.
- Persons who are incarcerated. Prisons and jails, as part of their mitigation plans, will have specific guidance on the wearing of face coverings or masks for both inmates and staff. “
There are 34 24 Hour Fitness clubs in Dallas-Fort Worth — 75 clubs across Texas.
These are the five that will reopen in DFW Monday in phase one:
- Fort Worth – Horn St. location
- Arlington – W. Arbrook location
- Mansfield – N. Walnut Creek location
- Lewisville – Castle Hills location
- McKinney – Hardin Blvd. location
Ueber says if everything goes smoothly in week one, another six DFW locations will reopen the following week.
A significant portion of their team member population was furloughed during their eight-week closure.
“It has been extremely difficult for them. We have kept a core group of folks at all levels of the company because we have been spending the past couple of months really working aggressively to prepare for reopening, and to make some other previously developed improvements to our clubs,” said Ueber. “So I think we’ve made good use of the time, but it’s been very difficult for a very large portion of our people.”
Ueber says he’s excited to reverse course. He announced all employees that were furloughed will return in phases.
24 Hour Fitness employs 22,000 people at its clubs across the country.