Coronavirus Updates

June 1, 2020

 

Dear Members and Guests,

 

At this writing, I have no new information regarding a reopening schedule for the health club industry in California. I expect our Governor to make an announcement this week that will provide some guidance on a reopening schedule. Regarding industry news, Gold’s Gym International, my prior brand affiliation, filed for bankruptcy in the first week of May. 24 Hour Fitness filed for bankruptcy last Friday. New York Sports Clubs, an east coast chain, is about to file for bankruptcy very shortly, according to my industry sources.

 

We continue to do minor repairs and alterations according to requirements that we may need to meet upon reopening. We will have additional disinfectant stations throughout the clubs (8 of them per club) and all of our Front Desks will be equipped with plexiglass face shields. All of the clubs have had their equipment pads reupholstered.

 

There are a lot of, what I would call, “wild” ideas circulating throughout the industry that, in my view, are just unmanageable or unworkable to employ. A reservation system to use the club, shutting the club down at intervals throughout the day for “deep cleanings” and taking everyone’s temperature upon entering the facility. The reservation system; unmanageable and unworkable. Shutting down the club for cleanings; beyond unmanageable and unworkable. Taking everyone’s temperature; The science on this one is dubious. Do you really think we’re going to send you home if you were to breach the temperature threshold? No way. Unworkable.

 

Masks will be required upon entering, leaving and all points in between. There is good science on this one. Do you have to have it on while doing a vigorous exercise set or while on a piece of cardio equipment? No. But, we would like to see you use it even during some of those vigorous moments. I received a few emails about wearing masks from my last Memorandum. If you were to keep your mask on throughout your workout, it would be (might be) the equivalent of training “at altitude” (like working out in Denver, Colorado). Now, this is dangerous mainly because so few of us are conditioned enough to train at a Denver altitude. But, you could work your way up the conditioning ladder with the use of a mask. You won’t asphyxiate yourself by wearing a mask. I need to dispel that idea. Masks are engineered for breathing, not cutting off your air supply. There is a mask for everything. Get one that works best for you. We don’t plan on selling masks as they are too difficult to obtain right now.

 

You will be required to have a mask to enter the facility – No Exceptions!

 

I wish I had more to tell you at this writing. I am as anxious as you to get our facilities reopened. I remain dismayed over the fact that our entire population hasn’t been tested for COVID-19. If we had this information, I think the country could have avoided a shut-down.

 

Watch the website for Santa Clara County. We’ll update our website as soon as we have more information on reopening.

 

All the best to everyone,

 

Jerry McCall

The McCall Gym Group, Inc.

president@americanbarbellclubs.com

 

 

May 1, 2020

 

Dear Members and Guests,

 

Here we are six weeks into our State shutdown from the COVID-19 crisis. This is what I can report. We did receive our C.A.R.E.S. Act / PPP funding. We can now pay our employees, none of whom have been laid off but, rather, furloughed during this crisis. We want all of our staff members back once we reopen.

 

We have been categorized as a “Phase 3” business in the COVID-19 hierarchy. This means we won’t be a business that will open early in the “reopening process”. As regrettable as this is, it isn’t without logic if one understands the way this virus circulates. I don’t like it, but I understand the rationale behind the decision. I also understand that until the public is ready to get back to some semblance of a normal life, opening too early would be counterproductive.

 

What will happen when we receive the “all clear” sign to open from the State and local government? Here are some things we’ve been thinking about.

 

     • We may reduce our business hours, not by much but, somewhat. At first glance, this may appear counterintuitive. This idea has more to do with what we think may be reduced attendance (at first) rather than anything else. We’ll watch this closely from the start.

     • Everyone will be required to wear a mask. I won’t be surprised to see the State and local governments mandate this. We would likely require this as part of our own rules for entry to the club.

     • We can mitigate the density of people in our cardio areas by shutting down every other piece of equipment and enforcing our usage timelines (we’ve always had a 30-minute time limit).

     • We will [probably] keep our circulating fans OFF in the Cardio areas during this crisis. Many of our members hated these fans running during pre-COVID-19 times, but getting overheated on a piece of cardio equipment can be dangerous. We think you’ll be able to manage this change in the environment.

     • On our club floors; Our workout spaces are large, and we have more weight training equipment than most clubs. Our members should be able to manage social distancing rules on their own. You have clear vision to everyone, we have an abundance of equipment selections, which gives you a lot of choices for appropriate distancing. If the State or local governments place attendance requirements on us, this could make the space more difficult to manage.

     • Wiping handles and pads down with our disinfectant spray, BEFORE AND AFTER use, will be required. We will be on the lookout for members who do not adhere to these rules. We will be adding additional sanitizing stations with paper towels and disinfectant spray.

     • Group Exercise; we may have to reduce our schedule and / or limit the class sizes.

     • Our staff will be protected at our front desk (mask and gloves) and we already utilize a “non-contact” check-in system (you scan your own ID card for club access).

     • We have always had “Day Porters”. These people are daytime janitors. We will rearrange their task schedules to do more equipment disinfecting throughout the day.

     • Our Locker Rooms; this area will be difficult to manage. We have considered limiting use to the lavatory areas (toilets and sinks) only to utilizing half of our showers to posting strict occupancy limits in the actual locker areas. We just don’t know – yet – how we’ll organize and manage this space. The State and local governments may tell us what we can and cannot do. It’s an open question right now.

 

Many of you may have great ideas and suggestions as well. Send them along. We want you to return to your workouts and we want you to feel comfortable in the clubs. My [optimistic] guess as to when we may be able to reopen is June 1st. I’m only speculating at this writing. On a recent presentation from Governor Newsom, he let slip that it will be “months” before a business in our category (Phase 3) will be allowed to open. I’m not getting information any sooner than you. I hope this timeline changes.

 

One bit of information that I’ve been reading and hearing about during this COVID-19 crisis is this. It is hitting people the hardest who have not managed their health. I’ve read that people with high blood pressure and Type-II diabetes, two risk factors that can be managed successfully from a good workout regimen, are not holding up that well. There are many reasons for good and bad outcomes from COVID-19, but belonging to a health club

may improve your chances.

 

Keep an eye on our website for the latest information on our reopening. We wish all of you the best in health.

 

Jerry McCall

The McCall Gym Group, Inc.

president@americanbarbellclubs.com

 

Membership Questions?

membershipadmin@americanbarbellclubs.com

 

 

March 31, 2020

 

Dear Members,

 

By now, most, if not all, of you know that the “shelter in place” order has been extended through May 3rd. We all probably saw this coming. Over the past two weeks, we’ve received information that will materially affect our ability [and your ability] to withstand the economic blow that the COVID-19 pandemic has brought.

 

The SBA (Small Business Administration) has a program that will enable us to pay all of our employees. We have not laid off or terminated ANY of our employees and we have no plans to do so. We fully expect to bring our entire staff back online once we receive the “all clear” notice from either the State of California or the Federal government.

 

This is a national emergency of no citizen’s making. Our local, state and federal governments are doing their best to ensure that no one falls off the economic ladder. This is another way of saying that no one should incur any personal debt over this national emergency and that, very soon, your income will be “backstopped” by the Federal government [and as it should be].

 

Every one of us is sweating more now than we ever have during a gym workout. I’m confident our government will come through and keep everyone “whole” during this tragedy. Try not to despair.

I really do believe help is on the way.

 

We have two people working in our Membership Administration office (Val and Veronica, our Operations Manager (membershipadmin@americanbarbellclubs.com), John, our Facilities Manager, (facilitymgr@americanbarbellclubs.com) is working at a club per day and our janitorial service is working on special assignments. We have moved our entire membership to an $8 monthly Freeze Status. This enables us to maintain key personnel and keep our business infrastructure viable.

The worst-case scenario for any member who holds onto their membership during this period would be - $16 – should the lockdown last through May.

 

As I’ve been saying to everyone whom I’ve been communicating with, “stay out of circulation”. This really does help the national cause. I do hope that you and your friends and family are all well and free of this worldwide scourge.

 

All the best,

 

Jerry McCall

The McCall Gym Group, Inc.

president@americanbarbellclubs.com

 

 

March 18, 2020

 

Dear Members,

 

What a time we’re in. We are all in uncharted territory at the moment. As all of you know by now, the County government forced our closure on March 17, 2020. We’re uncertain as to when this closure will be lifted. The best place to go for updated information will be our website. We will do our best to keep our notifications as current as possible.

 

We are not surprised to be asked about membership billings during this period.

Here’s our plan: Many people were drafted for their full dues amounts on March 1st. We’ll prorate or “true-up” the 50% of the month that was lost due to the club closures. We’ll do the same type of proration for those members who were drafted on March 9th and March 15th as well.

 

Beginning with the March 23rd draft, we will be drafting all members, going forward, at $8 (eight dollars) per month, which is our “Freeze / Inactive Status” membership. Why are we doing this? During this shutdown, we still have business infrastructure systems to maintain, financial obligations to meet and some key employees to pay. For example, the people who will be executing all of these changes to our member accounts will still be working. We feel this is a fair and reasonable trade-off under the circumstances. You have similar obligations in your own lives that just can’t stop, even now. I know some health club companies are still charging their members full rates. That’s crazy. For those members who wish to simply cancel their memberships at this time, if you return after the coronavirus situation abates, you will be subject to our current rate structure. If you’ve been a member with us for some time, I’m certain the rate will be higher than your current/old rate.

 

We fully expect to come through this disastrous situation. We hope for good health to you and all of your friends and family members. Take all the precautions and information that the CDC is providing. Finally, we ask that you stay with us and remember to look for updates on our website.

 

Thank you for your loyalty and cooperation.

 

Jerry McCall / Owner

The McCall Gym Group, Inc.

American Barbell Clubs

 

• Temporary Government Shut-Down Notice can be seen here

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