NIHCA Knows is a new blog-based platform to keep you updated on what is working for other clubs/fitness facilities in the NIHCA network. Think of it as a library of resources for various questions like salaries, square footage, age requirements, policies and procedures, etc. We will address questions from our facilities and write a searchable blog for you to review, 24 hours a day with searchable keywords to find the most recent and relevant content on a given subject.  If you have a topic you would like addressed, you can email your request to rewards@NIHCA.org.

Hot Tub Rules and Policies

August 26th, 2021

If your facility has a hot tub, what are your policies regarding age and use of the hot tub? It is imperative that you clearly have your policies posted not only for employees to reference but also for your members to be able to review.

We recommend at minimum to include the following limits:

  • Maximum Capacity
  • Allowed Time
  • Allowed age with and without adult supervision, include if the adult must be present, within reach, or in the hot tub/spa

The biggest concern is often regarding age limits The concerns vary from the height of the child (being able to stand in the hot tub with entire head above water surface) to hydration. Although we were not able to find specific guidelines it is recommended by the CDC that children under 5 years of age should not use hot tubs.

  • No one under 15
  • Nobody under 2 to 4 years of age
  • Youth 5-17 with adult supervision

“ ‘Safety First’ is ‘Safety Always’ ” – Charles M Hayes

Service Animal Policy

August 12th, 2021

Having a written policy and procedures book is always recommended, but one topic you may not have thought to include is your service pet policy. We have had clubs reach out for recommendations and we leaned on the NIHCA Networking Group for answers.

  1. Recognize service animals with definition
  2. If you have additional requirements put them in writing
    1. Service animal needs to be housebroken
    2. Facility is able to accommodate for type, size and weight of service animal
    3. Handler control as you cannot allow an animal that will or does compromise legitimate safety requirements
  3. Clearly include no un-authorized animals allowed that do not meet criteria of your definition of service animal

Verify any laws or regulations within your State, County, and City prior to making a policy for your facility. There are some questions you may not be allowed to ask, such as verification of service animal certification or a person’s disability that requires a service animal. There are questions you may be allowed to ask, such as what work or task is the animal trained to provide or perform.

Having written policy on service animals at your facility protects you (the club), the member needing a service animal, and the patrons utilizing the facility when a service animal is present.

 

“There is only one way to look at things until someone shows us how to look at them with different eyes” – Pablo Picasso

Take Action – GYMS Act

Working with our clubs and facilities is an honor and we have felt your struggles. Please take a moment to read this article and take action. Share it with your members! Let’s help each other by not waiting, but by taking action.

ACT NOW

by Pam Kufahl, Content Director at IHRSA

The U.S. fitness industry was not specifically included in either of the two previous federal relief bills related to COVID-19, but that could change with the reconciliation bill that the Senate Small Business Committee is working on now and that the Senate will take up after its August recess, according to IHRSA, the trade association for commercial health club operators.
The GYMS Act would provide assistance for fitness facilities that were forced to temporarily close during the COVID-19 pandemic and, as a consequence, have struggled to stay in business. If passed, the GYMS Act would create a $30 billion recovery fund in the form of Small Business Administration (SBA) grants that would be available to fitness business owners similar to other previous relief programs. The act would allow fitness facility operators to recoup as much as 45 percent of 2019 revenue or $20 million, whichever is less. The funds could be used for payroll, rent, mortgage, utilities, insurance and other expenses fitness facilities normally incur.
NIHCA needs to help IHRSA by getting this bill passed and in as many hands as possible.
Put on your FB page(s), send to your members to sign and pass along to others.

Club Software For Taking Payments and Online Registration

Computers are a tricky thing. We love them most of the time but we all have those days that we wish we didn’t have to deal with our computer.

Club Software is an integral part of your business. Club Software should fit your needs versus you finding what your club software needs for you to use it functionally. If you are in the market to update your club software we recommend you do some research of your needs and then research the best fit for your business.

 

We recommend these 3 software companies (in alphabetical order) – because you will get a discount as a NIHCA member:

  • Online Business Manager by Money Movers
  • Shape.Net
  • Visual Club Mate

Reach out to these vendors and get a quote. It doesn’t hurt to plan ahead.

Money Handling Processes at the Club

A lot goes on at your facility every day. Some hours are busier than others but at the end of the day, some important closing tasks should be addressed. We want to address Money Handling. Do you have more than one person assigned to closing out at the end of the day? Bigger question, do you have your policies in writing and are those policies followed?

We asked our Networking Group how the money handling is processed at their facilities, or more to the point ~ who is handling the money at their facility. Here are the top three responses

  1. Manager(s) are the ONLY ones who touch the money and are allowed to z the till out and close out at the end of each day (shift).
  2. There is 1 continuous cash drawer throughout the day. Each new shift employee must count the money and balance the drawer (large bills are placed in the safe). 1 person will z out and close at the end of the day.
  3. The City Finance Manager is the ONLY one who touches the money and they clear it out each day.

However your facility decides to handle the money, we cannot recommend enough to have this policy in writing and to adhere to your policy. We all want to be trusting and we all want to believe we have the best employees.

Membership Discounts for Military, First Responders, etc

May 27th, 2021

Does your facility offer membership discounts for military or first responders? How much of a discount should you offer? These are questions that get asked by facilities but also a question that not all potential members would think to ask before signing up with your facility.

Here is a breakdown of some discounts offered:

  • Waive annual maintenance fee
  • Corporate rates
  • 10-15% discount for military (active/retired)
  • 10% discount for first responders
    • A facility let us know that they offer a whopping 40% discount!!
    • Another facility offers a 25% discount to law enforcement and EMT while fire fighters enjoy a 100% discount!!

We cannot recommend enough that if you are going to offer a discount of any kind that you have a written policy.

  • What type of membership is required to receive the discount ( single/family, annual membership, paid in full membership, daily rates discounted?)?
  • Do family members get to enjoy the discount as well?
  • When you offer a military discount include who the discount applies to; such as all military, only active duty, not including Guard, or if leave paperwork is required to receive a daily discount.

Facility Capacity Mandates in Minnesota for Gyms and Fitness Facilities

Originally Published January 12, 2021

We will continue to update this post as our Minnesota restrictions are lifted

****Updated May 6, 2021****

Restrictions Lifting for MN Clubs

Phase I ~ Beginning May 7, 2021 @ 12 pm:

  • Gym capacity remains at 50%, maximum capacity remains capped at 250*.
  • Machines and people should maintain 6 feet of distance.
  • Indoor classes will continue to operate at 50% capacity.
  • Outdoor classes have no capacity restrictions & no masks required.
  • Indoor: Masks are still required. <updated 5/14/21, see Amended Executive Order>

*Indoor spaces with sufficient normal occupant capacity may exceed 250 people in accordance with the applicable percentage limitations and guidance available on the Stay Safe Minnesota website (https://staysafe.mn.gov).

Phase II ~ Beginning May 27, 2021 @ 11:59pm:

  • Gyms,/fitness clubs will no longer be required to have capacity limits; Facilities may be open at 100%.
  • No restrictions for equipment spacing.
  • Social distancing limits will end.
  • Masks will still be required at this time.

Phase III ~ As of July 1, 2021:

Governor Walz pledges to lift all business and event restrictions including the mask mandate. If 70% of Minnesota citizens get vaccinated statewide, then the restrictions may be lifted sooner than 7/1/12021.

Minnesota’s Stay Safe Plan website: https://mn.gov/covid19/stay-safe/stay-safe-plan/index.jsp

**************************************************************************************

***Updated March 12, 2021****

As of 3/15/21 noon in Minnesota

    • 50% Capacity
    • 250 Max Capacity (4/1/21 occupancy max may exceed 250 if applicable with percentage limits)
    • Indoor Classes increased to 25 people
    • Outdoor Classes increased to 50 people
    • Masks required
    • Saunas to remain closed

**************************************************************************************

 ***Updated February 19, 2021***

As of 2/13/21 noon in Minnesota

      • 25% capacity
      • 250 Max Capacity
      • 6 foot distance between machines and people
      • Classes are now at 25 people with distancing observed
      • Masks required

******************************************************************************

Our NIHCA Networking Group asked how the total capacity is being interpreted with the new mandates in place.

In Minnesota, the gyms were closed again in late November and early December. Since reopening, there have been greater restrictions on the max occupancy at any given time. This restriction is on a rolling basis; meaning, that at any one time there cannot be over 150 persons in the entire facility or max of 25% capacity.  For Example: if you have a smaller facility with a max capacity of 150 persons then at this time you cannot have more than 37 persons at one time. The restriction is based on the facility and not on individual spaces.

Please verify with your state regarding capacity restrictions during this time as well as proper social distancing.

As of 1/10/21 in Minnesota

        • 9 foot distance between machines and people
        • Classes are now at 25 people with distancing observed

We will continue to repeat that this is an ever changing environment. We too look forward to the restrictions being lifted not only in Minnesota but throughout the country.

Follow the link for the Minnesota’s Stay Safe Plan, https://mn.gov/covid19/stay-safe/stay-safe-plan/index.jsp.  Be sure to check your local government pages for guidelines.

Decreased Membership Revenue

May 2, 2021

2020 will forever be burned into our memories. However, we learned a LOT that year and we need to hold on to those lessons.

Today we are going to discuss decreased Membership revenue 😢 . When you see your membership revenue decrease by 20% or more, it is time to take action and not a time to wait until Fall or the New Year. How do we stay in business? We stay in business with increased revenue, so let’s get to work on moving forward. Take action and be proactive.

Big talk, right? We can back it up. NIHCA has been promoting a Reactivation Campaign to help clubs get their members to come back. Yes, it is a simple call campaign that involves a little elbow grease. Reach out to your members who have canceled their membership or put their membership on hold but haven’t been back. We aren’t telling you to make cold calls to your neighbor but to reach out to your past members. Dedicate 2 weeks to this call campaign and you will see significant results.

We have heard back from clubs who have had great success with the Reactivation Campaign. You have to put in the work, but putting in the work will bring positive results!

Call us today to get your hands on THE Reactivation Campaign.

Membership Freeze/ On-Hold Policy

April 19, 2021

Do you allow members to put their membership on hold or to freeze their account? Is this standard practice or case by case scenario?

We highly recommend that each facility have a policy in place. Here are some examples of what other facilities have as policies:

  • Up to 2 months (with an annual paid membership) and the hold is free
  • Up to 3 months with a $10 p/mo fee
  • Up to 3 months with a $5 p/mo fee
  • Up to 4 months, 1 time per year, with a one-time fee of $35 total
  • Up to 5 months, 1 time per year, with a $10 p/mo fee (30 day notice must be given)

We realize there are exceptions and 2020 taught us all to be flexible when needed. Because of COVID, some centers allowed freezes up until April of 2021 without a fee. Again, this would be an exception due to unforeseen circumstances and was a blanket offer to members.

Having a policy in place allows the facility to continue to have stability in book-keeping. Once the freeze/on-hold period is up, the membership goes back to a paid and active membership versus trying to bring the member back from a cancelled membership. We will also always recommend you have open communication with your members; never shy away from the phone to make that personal connection. A personal touch goes further than you may expect.

What is the right temperature for your facilities pools?

March 26, 2021

The question of pool temperature is a touchy subject. Do you have competitive athletes, water aerobics, or leisure swimmers using your pool? All three categories prefer a different temperature so be prepared to hear a comment or two if your pool is utilized by all.

In summary we found these to be the average temperatures:

  • All Around – 83
  • Lap/Competitive – 81
  • Leisure – 86

We hope your facility never hears a complaint but from what we hear – when it comes to the pool temp, you cannot please everyone.

Free or Discounted Access For Employees

March 2nd, 2021

Do You Allow Free or Discounted Access For Employees?

Before we offer you ANY information regarding this hot topic, we want to advise you to always consult with your tax professional regarding cash equivalent benefits to your employees or their families!

You are proud of your facility, as you should be, and you love seeing your employees use the facility on their off time. A great question; are your employees allowed to use the facility free of charge? This answer came with an array of answers and it was pretty split as to offering nothing or offering a free membership!

No: Many facilities are not allowed to offer any type of free or discounted memberships to their employees, due to the facilities county or municipality structure.

Part of your benefits: It is a good idea to include any free or discounted membership in the employees benefit package.

Include the Family: Facilities that are offering a discount or free membership to the employee as a perk, do not typically extend it to the family. If the employee would like a family membership, it is often offered at the difference from a single membership.

 

Once again, we reached out to gather this information for you. We will not list or provide the specific facilities that provided data. If you would like to help us grow the data pool, please email us at rewards@nihca.org. IF there are questions you would like addressed in the future,  you can email us at rewards@nihca.org.

Lost & Found Policies

February 9, 2021

We’ve all been finishing up laundry and realize there is one missing sock. Talk about frustrating. What I don’t understand is, how can you leave the gym and realize you lost your keys and not go back to find them?

Today’s topic is a hot one – do you have a Lost & Found Policy?

Short answer, if you don’t have a policy maybe now is the time to make one for your facility.  We took the liberty of breaking down a memo and log from one of our clubs and generalized it for you to make it your own at your facility. Here is an example Lost & Found Policy and Item Log: Lost and Found Policy and Log.

Here is what our clubs said:

  • Hygiene items not claimed are tossed at end of each day
  • Clothing and general items not claimed usually end up getting donated
  • One facility has a rummage sale each year and donates the money (LOVE this!)
  • High Value items are logged, secured and kept indefinitely

I hope nobody loses their keys, wedding rings or minds! However, as George Carlin said, “If I ever lose my mind I hope some honest person will find it and take it to Lost and Found”.

Let’s Talk Salaries

February 1, 2021

The NIHCA Networking Group has been around for some time now. Our facilities ask on a regular basis, “what do you pay your …..?”. A few years ago, we put this information into a spreadsheet and shared it amongst our Networking Group. This is a great resource to go back to and review, if you find yourself looking to hire a new director, front desk clerk, maintenance staff or if you find yourself looking to add a personal trainer at your facility. Please note that as of today, February 2021, the memberships may not be as accurate due to the 2020 year with COVID.

nihca-rebates

 

To pull up the spreadsheet click here, NIHCA Knows-What do you pay your staff…

 

 

Once again, we reached out to gather this information for you. We will not list or provide the specific facilities that provided data. If you would like to help us grow the data pool, please email us at rewards@nihca.org.

 

Pool Mandate for Minnesota Clubs

January 14, 2021

In Minnesota we look forward to our outdoor activities but we are just as anxious to get into our clubs and dive into the warm water of an indoor pool. With the reopening of gyms in Minnesota, there were new guidelines for the pool openings as well. The biggest point we want to make is that “If a pool is located within a place of public accommodation with limited occupancy, such as a fitness center, the occupants of a pool must be counted toward the overall occupancy of the place of public accommodation”.  We addressed the Facility Capacity guidelines in an earlier post. It is the goal for those guidelines to continue to improve allowing more patrons into our facilities at any given time. At this time, MN is allowing a max of 25% capacity with a cap of 150 persons.  Always check with your local government for current guidelines!

The response we got from the NIHCA Networking group was divided on Open Swim. Open swim is harder to regulate social distancing. Where social distancing requirements are stricter, some facilities who are offering open swim are doing so by reservation only.

Here is the link to the Minnesota pool reopening dated 1/6/21, https://www.health.state.mn.us/diseases/coronavirus/poolreopen.pdf. Please be sure to check your local government pages for guidelines!

Sign postings are a great reminder to your members for guidelines of social distancing and masks. From visiting with our members, we recommend word of mouth. Talk with your members, visit with them and have a conversation. We have found more and more understanding people over the last few months. Again, we are all trying to do our best; with a smile and good attitude we can work together to come out of this stronger.

Locker Rooms/Showers for Gyms in Minnesota

January 14, 2021

We may have all heard the term “social distancing” enough to last us a lifetime but that doesn’t mean our facilities should loosen up on guidelines offered by your government, local health departments or the CDC. One of the big questions we have heard is, “How are you managing the social distancing in your locker rooms and with your showers?”  We recommend you ALWAYS check with your local government pages as to the current mandates and recommendations.

If you are in need of some creative solution when your locker rooms and showers are not able to be open, these are what some facilities are doing:

  • Set up temporary changing stations on the pool deck to allow safe space for their members.
  • Encourage the member(s) shower on pool deck to rinse off, before and after using the pool.
  • Recommend to your patrons to shower at home before and/or after when possible.
  • If you have your locker rooms and showers open, please consider increasing the sanitizing and disinfecting procedures throughout the day.

We have found that facilities are posting rule reminders throughout their buildings as well as within locker rooms and they are not finding any issues arise with members violating the social distancing “rules”.

Do you have creative solutions at your facility if your locker rooms or showers have not been able to open? Email us at rewards@nihca.org with your solutions or a future question you would like addressed.

 

Mask Mandate While Working Out In The Gym or Club

January 11, 2021

We reached out to our NIHCA Networking Group and asked how the Mask Mandate is working for their facilities. The consensus is that it depends on many factors which we all knew but here are some highlights

  • Facilities that consistently enforce/remind members appear to have the best results of compliance
  • 24/7 facilities are viewing video and reaching out to individuals as needed
  • Email members prior to opening reminding that the mask/face coverings are required
  • Facilities have instructed staff to politely remind members that they have to wear their masks at all times and that if they feel uncomfortable for any reason with any member to contact the police

Here is the link for the MN executive order on face coverings, https://mn.gov/governor/assets/EO%2020-81%20Final%20Filed_tcm1055-441323.pdf. ***Updated 5/14/21, https://mn.gov/governor/assets/Signed%20EO%2021-23%20Final_tcm1055-482197.pdf.***

This is changing regularly as we move through this new and unchartered territory. We will continue to work together to share what is working for facilities in hopes that you find a solution that works for you as well.

If you have additional recommendations or have found a great solution at your facility, please email us at rewards@nihca.org and we will add the information to this NIHCA Knows post.

“How Do You Conduct Virtual Workouts”

January 2021

Our first question we asked the NIHCA Networking Group was:

“How do you conduct virtual workouts?”

Our question came about as we have heard facilities scrambling this year to find solutions for the situation none of us could have anticipated. Of course, it is our hope that this is behind us and we all see our members coming back through our doors and one day soon we will again be able to see the smiles as they walk in.

The most popular Virtual Workouts offered that align with the Fitness Incentive Program is through a Zoom platform where members sign up for the class and attend from their home but are active with the instructor just as they would be if they were able to come together in the facility. This is offered as part of the membership for most facilities while they are shut down and may come with a minimal charge when the facility is able to be open. There are facilities that can offer this through their club software so that attendance is also taken when a member logs into the class.

There are some clubs/facilities who offer virtual workouts that do not qualify for the Fitness Incentive Programs. These workouts may be offered free or for an additional monthly subscription ($10-30/month) and are offered through emails sent or posted on social media. These workouts are prerecorded or written/typed out for the individuals to do at their convenience. There are also facilities that offer a library of workouts for an additional cost (again it ranges from $10-30 per month) to their members to access away from the facility.

Let us know if there are questions you would like answered in the future, you can email us at rewards@nihca.org.

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