My name is Mitch Potterf and am the owner and operator of Ohio Fit Club, LLC. DBA Fit Club. I write this to urge you to develop a plan and re-open Ohio’s fitness facilities, in the interest of Ohio’s economic and public health. You can work out anywhere, but gyms provide professional staff, equipment and a place that members feel at home and connected to one another. Beyond the physical we foster lasting relationships that help people stay connected to one another, meet new people and maintain their physical and mental health. We have helped people get in the best shape of their life, develop lifelong habits and relationships and also helped many find a reason to keep going in dark times.
I started in the fitness industry in 1993 and have owned my current facility Fit Club since 2008. We are a Personal Training Studio and CrossFit Gym. Over the last 12 years, I have done a lot of good for the community with the gym. We annually do several fundraisers for local charities, competitively we have won national and world titles, provided jobs for the local economy, helped numerous people lose over 100 pounds and helped many others with addiction, anxiety, daily stress and some fight depression and say no to suicide. We are a powerful force of positivity, physical and mental health and social responsibility for our community.
I'm asking to be able to train 10 people every two hours in a 10,000 square foot space. I'm reserving spots, taking temperatures and disinfecting the entire facility and all equipment before and after members come and go. All members and staff will have masks. I have scheduled a Hazmat company to clean prior to opening. Based on what I have seen in public and through the Executive Orders, this seems to exceed the current standards to go to the mall, grocery, barber or restaurant. It is also safe to say that our members are healthier and more protected against many health concerns and less likely to need advanced medical care in any situation. Additionally their higher than average commitment to health shows they are proactive about their health. In our current state of affairs we need more healthy people in our population.
Below I will outline every step of my proposed process as well any other factors that should be considered
Fit Club is a 10,000 square foot facility with 20’ ceilings and Three 10’ x 15’ garage doors that open up and provide a lot of fresh air and light. Fit Club is located in downtown Columbus at the Audubon Park Office Center inside the Scioto Audubon Metro Park. Previous to the Stay at Home order we operated 5 classes a day, 5 days a week and 4 class times on the weekend. Attendance varied at different class times ( Higher before and after a typical work day) but our weekday daily average attendance was 50-60 members. This includes all scheduled classes and 3-5 one on one personal training sessions a day. This schedule served about 70% of our members 3-4 times/week along with offsite nutrition counseling and the remaining 30% of members 5 or more times a week. This is a contrast to facilities with open gym models ( Planet Fitness) where only about 20% of their members utilize the facility on a monthly basis.
Members will reserve class times on the Fit Club app. Athletes will be able to arrive 15 minute before class time. Classes will be for 60 minutes with 60 minutes between each class for disinfection and set up time. All athletes will pre register for class with a ten person limit of class attendance.
The class schedule below
Monday - Friday- All General CrossFit
6:00 AM, 8:00 AM, 10:00 AM, 12:00 PM, 2:00 PM, 4:00 PM, 6:00 PM, 8:00 PM
8:00 AM This will be a Comp/Advanced class, 10:00 AM, 12:00 PM
8:00 AM- General CrossFit
10:00 AM -Yoga- also live on Zoom
12:00 PM - General CrossFit
The guidelines below will be strictly enforced by staff. They may sound strict but this is not that much of a challenge in a small group of responsible people already used to doing what the coach says. Small gyms and studios are not a place people randomly do what they want, they are a place they go to train and do what they are told.
What's going on in the 60 minute between classes?
:00-:30min - All equipment and used areas ( Bathrooms, lobby and floors, etc.) will be sprayed with disinfectant.
:30-:60- All equipment and used areas ( Bathrooms, lobby and floors, etc.) will be wiped down by staff. Staff will check in all registered athletes for the next class
What do members need to bring?
To come to the gym members must schedule a time online, show up and sign in. This requires a temperature check and acknowledgement that they are symptom free. We know when class starts and ends and who was there before and after, what their email, phone and address are and where they work. Our members like us and we can get a hold of them quicker than any retail outlet or even their doctors. Retail locations don't know any of this. I can tell you more day to day health info than many people's doctors- what their heart did in a work out, what they ate or drank, if they slept, how many times a day, week, month or year they worked out, if family members or friends and roommates are sick or exposed. We will compile all this data at the end of the day so it can be distributed as needed to maintain public health and safety. We have been doing this for years and have the technology and experience to maintain these records moving forward.
Exercise programming is the term we use to identify the movements, methods and strategies used to prescribe exercise. Our main program is based on a CrossFit methodology. CrossFit is simply a mix of functional human movements done at a relatively high intensity designed to develop the fittest, healthiest individual possible. We train a wide variety of fitness and ability. While the majority of our population is very fit it is very common to get these people at the beginning of their fitness journey. CrossFit will make you super fit but you don’t have to be fit to start.
Since the stay at home order all Fit Club members were issued equipment and programming to follow at home. This is delivered and tracked via a series of apps, email and a private Facebook Group. Though they have been training they miss the direct coaching and social support they get in the gym and many movements that are impossible to replicate at home. They are all eager to jump right in and begin where they left off but that is not exactly what is going to happen. Previous to the shutdown each class would start with a 15-20 minute warm up then 15-20 minutes of skill or strength work and finish with a 10-20 minute Met-Con or conditioning session. During shut down it has been impossible for them to work on specific movements, skills and lifts. While we will follow the same class format we will spend more time on the skill and strength portion and a little less on the Met-Con. My thought here is the Met- Con involves more deep inhaling and exhaling than strength movements and that should be minimized initially. Members will be encouraged to go outside to the park for additional conditioning work.The Scioto Audubon park is 120 acres so there is ample room to do so safely.
The base equipment of our program is steel barbells, dumbbells, kettlebells, racks and rubber bumper plates ( All purchased locally). Additionally we use jump ropes, air bikes and rowing and skiing ergometers. All items are easily disinfected and cleaned before and after each use. The bikes and ergs are a little more complicated as they have many moving parts and use air to create resistance that results in a fan. These items will not be utilized initially as they may spread any droplets a further distance. We will stick with the steel and rubber items for all workouts in the initial phase.
The current stay at home order has people sitting at home with take out food and alcohol watching TV and becoming more and more sedentary. This does not bode well for our short or long term health. People get bored and go shop for stuff they don't need or visit a salon for a non essential haircut because they want something to do not because it is an important part of public health and safety. These people may have many risk factors and could get sick before the healthiest in our state have a chance to start getting things moving again.
Structured fitness provides Ohioans a positive outlet for that energy. It can stimulate the economy and help maintain personal and public health and safety. The sooner we get back to business the sooner we as a fitness industry can help serve those that are underserved and at risk. If Ohioans had a 10 or 20% reduction in all risk factors (Asthma, Lung disease, Diabetes, Heart conditions, Obesity) would we be seeing the same number of infections, hospitalizations and deaths? I don’t think so. We are a vital short and long term solution to these problems. We have to make Ohioans healthier now and in the future. A healthier population makes Ohio a safer place to live and work.
Healthcare professionals have done an outstanding job of reacting to this crisis. I am thankful for their dedication ,sacrifice and service. It is time to give fitness professionals a chance to get back to work and develop some proactive strategies for improving public health.
“The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now.”