Message to Members Regarding COVID-19
Message to Members Regarding COVID-19

Dear Universal Athletic Club Member,

We know that COVID-19 has presented everyone – individuals, businesses and governments alike – with significant challenges. Among these challenges is deciphering what is fact versus myth. Some assertions that have been made simply do not have data or facts to support them. Therefore, along with hundreds of other health and fitness operators across the nation, we are sharing the following facts and data with you about the current situation and its impact on our society.

The programs and services this industry provides are crucial to personal and overall public health. We now are aware of data from world-leading health organizations that individuals with obesity, diabetes, hypertension and other conditions are at significantly increased risk of severe illness from COVID-19 as compared to those without these underlying conditions. Yet, some messaging has advanced an anti-club narrative. Even worse, this is occurring at a time when the public needs these essential services the most. Therefore, we believe the next three points are critical for your review:

1) There is no evidence that health and fitness facilities are contributing to the spread of COVID-19 differently than other businesses that continue to operate. Health clubs across the country have implemented some of the most robust COVID-19 safety protocols that exist, and they are proving effective at keeping their members and employees safe:

  • Since June 22, Universal Athletic Club has recorded more than 48,000 checkins. During this time, we have not received any reports of staff or members who have tested positive for COVID-19. Additionally, clubs (unlike most other businesses) have always had a built-in capability for contact tracing since we know which members are in the club at any point in time. Most importantly, in following protocols to determine who else may have come into contact with those reported cases, we are not aware of any cases that originated in our club.
  • This also aligns with broader industry data. For example, in a survey of 2,877 health clubs with 49.4 million total check-ins, only 1,155 positive cases were reported through August 7, 2020, according to fitness industry consultant, Blair McHaney of MXM. This also represents a virus-to-check-in ratio of less than 0.002%.
  • Norwegian public health researchers found no COVID-19 transmissions associated with fitness centers in a randomized trial of more than 3,000 members of clubs offering typical fitness services, including higher intensity exercises, with mitigation protocols that were simple and easy to adhere to. In fact, the protocols tested successfully in Norway were even more modest than those adopted by U.S. fitness operators. As a result, Norway reopened its health clubs gyms.


2) You’re a member, not a customer. This distinction is very important. Members have more pride of ownership in their club than customers of other businesses. Just like employees, members are much more likely to understand and adhere to required health and safety protocols than random customers. This allows clubs to operate much more consistently to keep members and employees safe.

3) Without a vaccine or proven medication, our own immune system is the best defense we have. Healthier people – even if infected – are less likely to require hospital care, easing pressures on our health care systems. Health and fitness clubs play a vital role in this by helping members improve their physical and mental wellness and reduce key risk factors.

In conclusion:

  • There are no facts or data to support the assertion that clubs are spreading COVID-19
  • In fact, clubs can only help – not hurt – during this unfortunate situation
  • As an industry, we are passionate and committed to the health and wellbeing of our members and our communities.

If you agree, please feel free to share this message with others.

We truly appreciate your ongoing support and membership. Without you, we couldn’t be here to serve.