EAST PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — January is typically the most profitable month for gyms and fitness centers, but this year, many businesses are continuing to adapt to restrictions brought on by the coronavirus pandemic.
Managing Member for Work Out World (WOW) New England Elizabeth Beninati said constant cleaning and disinfecting, social distancing and face mask mandates are what’s keeping gyms open.
“Right now, gyms have just been found, by research with contact tracing, to be non-spreaders, they’re really safe,” she said.
Beninati said WOW has been constantly changing and adapting their rules and regulations throughout the pandemic, including by adjusting memberships and adding virtual ways to access amenities.
“We’re becoming more semi-private exclusive where we’re changing our plans and we’re catering more to the individual member,” she said. “We still have a $10 plan, but the pricing has increased on plans that are offering more with all these features on the apps and the streaming.”
Beninati said they have a cleaning crew that fogs the facility at least once a week after the building closes for the night.
“If people actually came in and saw how clean it is, and our screening processes, and all of our adaptions they would feel very comfortable,” she said.
Members have their temperatures checked at the door and are screened at the front desk before being allowed to touch the equipment, Beninati said.
For those who decide to end their gym membership later on, Kristy dosReis, spokeswoman for the R.I. Attorney General’s office, said consumers are protected during certain circumstances under state law.
“Upon signing up for a gym membership, they can cancel their gym contract and receive a refund for pre-payments if the health club ‘substantially changes’ its operation,” dosReis explained.
Beninati said all but one contract agreement WOW offers allows members a 30-day notification cancelation option.
If the facility needs to close again per state mandate, she said members would not be billed during that time, just like during the previous pause. Under current state mandates, gyms are operating at 50% capacity.
“I think the way we’ve adapted and what we’re offering when people come in, I think we’re going to be here on the other side of this,” Beninati said.
Anyone who joins the gym in January will not have to pay for the month. Beninati said this will allow new members to test the facility out before the payments kick in.
dosReis said if a gym is refusing to cancel a contract or issue a refund, among other issues, consumers can file a complaint with the consumer protection team at the Attorney General’s office.