Retail Resilience Virgin Active puts debt orders on hold during lockdown

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Category: Best Practice - Continuity


Published: March 27, 2020


Physical health was identified early as good practice in fighting the COVID-19 virus, with the elderly, auto-immune deficient and those with general poor health considered high risk of having serious complications with the virus,

Gyms around the country initially continued business as usual, but concerns were soon raised that they may be hot spots for spreading the virus. Virgin Active remained open to gym-goers, but in a newsletter to members,, the fitness chain said group classes would be reduced by 50% to “practice social distancing”. They also ensured that group classes would only be allowed to be booked online, with no walk-ins allowed.

The club also went about “reformatting” certain classes so equipment won’t be shared. Yoga belts, boxing pads and gloves were also temporarily removed from its facilities.

Class times were reduced so cleaning teams could sanitise equipment before the next class. Suspension yoga and active band classes were also cancelled.

Other measures included closing water fountains, implementing a compulsory sweat towel policy and imploring members to wash their hands regularly.

But when the mandatory national lockdown was implemented, the gym were no longer allowed to remain operational, leaving clients to find their own means of fitness. Virgin Active reacted quickly to the shutdown by freezing all monthly payments for the duration of the closure, while they also ensure that personal trainers operating on gym premises were provided with some relief. Personal Trainers are required to pay rent for the use of the facilities and the closure effectively dried up their income.

“All memberships will automatically be frozen at no cost, and no fees will be due for the period of closure,” said Virgin Active in a statement released at the time. “Our tenants will not be required to pay us rent for this period, which includes personal trainers. We have furthermore made an app available to our personal trainers at no cost to allow them to offer their clients virtual workouts. We believe this to be an equitable solution despite our business receiving no subscription revenue during this period.

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