This is a highly unusual situation and there’s a lot of uncertainty about how to progress. It’s currently taking up about 50 to 75 per cent of my time and five of my senior management team are working on it full-time as well.
We’re planning for the worst, while hoping for the best. Our priority at this time is absolutely people before profits, a position which our investors are strongly backing. All of our decisions are being made based on safeguarding the wellbeing of our staff and members. Affordability is not a factor.
We’ve upgraded the cleaning in our clubs, both the amount we’re cleaning and the depth of the cleans, with special focus on contact surfaces. We’re also increasing the availability of wipe down sprays and sanitisers for members – use of hand sanitiser has increased tenfold.
Added to this, we’re increasing public awareness in relation to the importance of hygiene and hand washing and telling our members not to come to the clubs if they feel unwell in any way at all.
So far I’ve been really impressed with the resolve of the public to carry on as normal: to keep coming to the gym and to be fit and healthy, as their first line of defence against all types of illnesses.
We monitor gym visits carefully and it’s only in the last week that we’ve seen the first sign of the average number of visits being slightly down on where we would expect it to be at this time of year.
Our head office staff are all working from home today, as a test for if we have to close the office in coming weeks – which has worked really well.
As a company we’re dependent on technology, so our 50-strong technology team are currently working from home as standard and only coming in to the office when a meeting is needed. We’re relying on them to keep our communications with our members seamless, as well as keep the app updated, so it’s vital they continue to work.
"Our priority at this time is absolutely people before profits. All our decisions are being made based on safeguarding the wellbeing of our staff and members"
Through ukactive, we’ve been in close contact with Public Health England, and the equivalent agencies in Scotland and Wales, and have collaborated with the industry to create a set of guidelines. These set out protocols of what to do if a club member, or a member of staff, tests positive for the virus.
The standard position is that the club would be closed, thoroughly cleaned and then reopened. If this is the case, members would be able to use alternative Pure Gyms, or workout at home via the app.
In terms of positives, there’s been a very good degree of collaboration and sharing of best practice among operators, uniting against a common enemy.
Going forward I think this crisis might increase awareness and standards of cleanliness and hygiene, as well as highlighting to everyone the importance of exercising and staying fit to boost the immune system.
Pure Gym investors are strongly backing a policy of people before profit