Coronavirus threatens fitness industry cool down

Gym chains and pay-per-class studios are asking sick clients to stay home

Fears caused by coronavirus could send some gym rats scurrying.

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Gyms across the country are urging members to stay home if they feel even the slightest bit feverish amid the deadly coronavirus outbreak spreading across the country. As a result, fitness clubs are upping their sanitation efforts. Some gyms have posted Reddit threads to discuss health and safety concerns with clients.

Gyms are sending memos to clients telling them to stay home if they're sick amid coronavirus. (iStock). 

Fitness chains like Equinox, Crunch, Gold's Gym, Orangetheory and others have sent memos to gym go-ers to reassure them that health is a priority.

Denver-based yoga studio chain CorePower Yoga sent a mass email to yogis Monday to inform clients that staff has "reduced physical assists and the use of props" and is cleaning equipment with "hospital-grade disinfectant sprays" in class, the memo obtained by FOX Business said. The studio is also advising sick members to stay home. The company declined to comment if its sales have been affected.

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Equinox also sent its members a memo last week urging members to use disinfectant wipes after using the equipment. Florida-based interval training studio Orangetheory, meanwhile, created an entire Reddit thread titled "Coronavirus/COVID” on Saturday, allowing members to ask questions. The chain's president, David Carney, posted a note Sunday urging members not to workout “when you have a fever, are coughing, sneezing or experience shortness of breath."

Carney also said members shouldn't feel inclined to high-five coaches, a common greeting gesture among its staffers.

"If you don't want to exchange a high five with the coach, we understand. We just want you to feel welcomed and excited for the workout," Carney wrote.

OrangeTheory's coronavirus thread on Reddit. (Reddit). 

Some members suggested Orangetheory waive its cancellation fees to those who wake up and feel sick.

"Sucks to be paying over $200 a month and then get sick and have to pay another $14," one Reddit user griped about the company's cancellation fee.

New York-based Crunch Fitness, which has more than 300 franchised fitness clubs, is also encouraging members to "stay home if running a fever," a spokesperson for the chain said in an email. The chain posted flyers around its studios reminding members not to touch their faces, wash hands with soap and hot water.

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"If you do get sick with flu symptoms, in most cases, you should stay home and avoid contact with other people except to get medical care," a spokesperson for Crunch said, adding that every Crunch location has disinfectant wipes and Purell hand sanitizers at the front of its desk.

The death toll from the coronavirus in the United States surged to six people on Monday with the disease affecting more countries around the world. The virus has spread to New York, Moscow and Berlin and the global death toll is now more than 3,000 with the number of people infected topping 89,000 with outbreaks in South Korea, Italy, and Iran, the Associated Press reported. The disease, which causes flu-like symptoms like difficulty breathing and fever, emerged in China two months ago in the city of Wuhan.

The virus is spread from person-to-person by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching the mouth, nose or possibly their eyes, or through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes, according to the CDC.  Doctors, however, are saying that gym-goers don't have to sacrifice a workout out of fear of catching the virus.

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"I would still go about your normal activities at this point," Dr. Robert Glatter, an emergency physician at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City said. "Just as you normally should – even before the arrival of coronavirus – always clean your hands thoroughly after using exercise equipment with hand gel or use bleach-based wipes. It’s also important to avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth since this is how the virus gains entry into your body."

Gyms in China, meanwhile, have been forced to livestream their workouts as fears of the coronavirus takes a toll on business with people avoiding public places.

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