Special report
First response

As the world unites to tackle COVID-19, we ask two industry leaders to share insights into their initial response to the challenge


Humphrey Cobbold, CEO, Pure Gym
Humphrey Cobbold

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
Clive Ormerod, CEO, Les Mills
Clive Ormerod

Responding to the coronavirus has been a priority for Les Mills since early January, when the scale of the problem became apparent. We’ve established an internal task force to come together and act quickly, to respond to breaking events, communicate clearly with our tribe and customers, stabilise our supply chains, and coordinate everything we are doing globally. We’re meeting daily, and prioritising as we go. Our key focus through all of this has been the safety of our team mates, the club partners we work with and the Les Mills instructors around the world – our tribe.

Our China team has been dealing with this challenge the longest and have been extremely professional and proactive. They’ve been working remotely for two months, with our Japan team doing the same, so we’ve been able to learn from their experiences: specifically, our ability to provide our club partners with the digital tools and assets, [such as home workouts, Les Mills on Demand], to enable them to continue to engage with their members.

We’ve tested online instructor workshops with some innovative approaches and the response from instructors has been really interesting. As a team, we have the digital product and platforms within our business, so we’re looking to use this moment to help clubs connect with their members in new and unique ways – we’re learning a lot.

With our instructors it’s all about making sure they have the right information and access to the content that will allow them to stay safe and keep teaching, and also that they can communicate effectively and reassuringly with members. Where instructors have had to stay home we’ve helped lift spirits with challenges from our programme directors to keep them active.

For our club customers this is definitely an opportunity to support them with tools to keep members engaged, even if some have to stay home. Clubs without a digital solution are looking for help to find one, fast, so we’re making it as easy as possible for them to offer our Les Mills on Demand service. In impacted markets, like Japan and the Middle East, we’re making this free for club members for two months.

"Our China team has been dealing with this crisis the longest, so we have been able to learn from their experiences" - Clive Ormerod

The challenge for all businesses is to respond fast to a changing environment and to work together to minimise business impacts. There’s no doubt these are testing times, but part of being a good corporate citizen means supporting others in the wider industry and community.

The message that by exercising and staying fit you are already building the best defences against illness and disease is certainly one that we are emphasising. It would be great to think that out of this crisis there might be a silver lining of increased public awareness of the value of regular exercise, and we’ll certainly do our bit to make sure that happens.

Les Mills on Demand is being offered free for two months in impacted markets
 


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SELECTED ISSUE
Health Club Management
2020 issue 3

View issue contents

Leisure Management - First response

Special report

First response


As the world unites to tackle COVID-19, we ask two industry leaders to share insights into their initial response to the challenge

Humphrey Cobbold, CEO, Pure Gym
Humphrey Cobbold

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
Clive Ormerod, CEO, Les Mills
Clive Ormerod

Responding to the coronavirus has been a priority for Les Mills since early January, when the scale of the problem became apparent. We’ve established an internal task force to come together and act quickly, to respond to breaking events, communicate clearly with our tribe and customers, stabilise our supply chains, and coordinate everything we are doing globally. We’re meeting daily, and prioritising as we go. Our key focus through all of this has been the safety of our team mates, the club partners we work with and the Les Mills instructors around the world – our tribe.

Our China team has been dealing with this challenge the longest and have been extremely professional and proactive. They’ve been working remotely for two months, with our Japan team doing the same, so we’ve been able to learn from their experiences: specifically, our ability to provide our club partners with the digital tools and assets, [such as home workouts, Les Mills on Demand], to enable them to continue to engage with their members.

We’ve tested online instructor workshops with some innovative approaches and the response from instructors has been really interesting. As a team, we have the digital product and platforms within our business, so we’re looking to use this moment to help clubs connect with their members in new and unique ways – we’re learning a lot.

With our instructors it’s all about making sure they have the right information and access to the content that will allow them to stay safe and keep teaching, and also that they can communicate effectively and reassuringly with members. Where instructors have had to stay home we’ve helped lift spirits with challenges from our programme directors to keep them active.

For our club customers this is definitely an opportunity to support them with tools to keep members engaged, even if some have to stay home. Clubs without a digital solution are looking for help to find one, fast, so we’re making it as easy as possible for them to offer our Les Mills on Demand service. In impacted markets, like Japan and the Middle East, we’re making this free for club members for two months.

"Our China team has been dealing with this crisis the longest, so we have been able to learn from their experiences" - Clive Ormerod

The challenge for all businesses is to respond fast to a changing environment and to work together to minimise business impacts. There’s no doubt these are testing times, but part of being a good corporate citizen means supporting others in the wider industry and community.

The message that by exercising and staying fit you are already building the best defences against illness and disease is certainly one that we are emphasising. It would be great to think that out of this crisis there might be a silver lining of increased public awareness of the value of regular exercise, and we’ll certainly do our bit to make sure that happens.

Les Mills on Demand is being offered free for two months in impacted markets

Originally published in Health Club Management 2020 issue 3

Published by The Leisure Media Company Ltd Portmill House, Portmill Lane, Hitchin, Herts SG5 1DJ. Tel: +44 (0)1462 431385 | Contact us | About us | © Cybertrek Ltd