As clubs continue to re-open and look to post pandemic times, we check in with Rochester Athletic Club on how the pandemic has changed the way clubs get back to the business of fitness.
Q: Last year was a challenge for everyone in the club industry, how’s 2021 shaping up for RAC?
Really well. We’re a 260,000 square feet club – so we provide services to a lot of individuals and family members in the area. During the height of the pandemic, we had 40 percent of our membership on pause, but we have heard from countless members that they really missed what clubs like ours really offer: of course classes and fitness, but more a community where they choose to socialize with friends and connect with like-minded people. Fortunately as case numbers continue to come down, that community is returning quickly. We taker that role as a centralized place where people reconnect, after hours and days working from home very seriously.
Q: What changes did you make to club procedures in the past year? What do you foresee going forward?
Our biggest changes, other than closing when instructed by the state authorities, were all about peace of mind for members during difficult times. We installed five PHX air filtration systems, our maintenance crew designed and installed screens between cardio equipment and we implemented reservations for classes and even in the pool, where swimmers have to register for a lane 72 hours in advance. Going forward, like many clubs, we’ll be maintaining the highest standards of cleanliness and hygiene. We just switched to Stabilized Aqueous Ozone for spraying down machines – a system which turns water into cleaning products without bleach or other harsh chemicals, so there’s no chance of a member being cross sprayed by someone working out close to them.
Q: What role has digital fitness played in your club in the past year?
It’s been a huge part of club operations: helping round out offering during a time when live classes have been reduced in admission size. We’ve kept our studios open and available outside of scheduled classes and made FOD content and classes available to them, so they can work out with our facilities, equipment and premium class content when it makes sense to them and their schedules in these changeable times.
Q: What changes do you foresee at your club going forward?
Some things won’t change. We will continue to make sure our members feel safe, supported and connected with other club members and trained, specialist staff to help them. But the biggest change we are already seeing is more of our members coming back through the doors. That’s big and very satisfying. I know I, and our team, have missed just walking around the club and chatting with members socially. We’re also planning for a surge of new interest from people wanting to make fitness more of a part of their overall lifestyle too – to put themselves in the best possible position to be healthy. After everything that we all went through last year, all of this is incredibly encouraging and exciting.