Jost ADK Helps Launch Colorado Fitness Coalition

It goes without saying that the pandemic has upended a lot of businesses and industries, the fitness industry among them. In Colorado, gyms banded together to form the Colorado Fitness Coalition (CFC) so they could speak with a unified voice to their state government. Jost ADK is a part of this coalition, with Robin Jost, department head of accounting and human resources for Jost ADK, serving as a founding member and as part of the advisory board.

How did the Colorado Fitness Coalition form?

The Colorado Fitness Coalition, which formed in August 2020, came about because peers within the fitness industry understood the need to speak with one voice about their concerns so they could get their message across. That means that the fitness brands and clubs that have come together are, yes, technically competitors. There are 37 brands and 184 locations across the state that have joined the CFC. However, Jost explained that competition had been put aside in the face of the coronavirus pandemic. The group was formed with the intent to aid businesses within the fitness industry with following state/local public health orders and consider best practices within its member base. However, the most significant goal was to keep Colorado consumers safe.

The CFC has engaged a lobbyist to assist in these efforts. The lobbyist will be working on helping gyms get essential business status, easing capacity restrictions on gyms, changing the public opinion of gyms, and connecting with officials at the state and local levels and health officials on their behalf, according to Jost.

What messages does the CFC want to share?

In the face of further shutdowns in October, the CFC had several major points that they wanted to make known about gyms and the fitness industry. First, the data seems to show that fitness facilities are indeed safe. Second, fitness centers are able to keep COVID safety measures in place. Mask-wearing, distancing, scrupulous cleaning and sanitation and contact tracing (something that gyms are able to assist with since they can track member presence) are key to keeping indoor facilities safe. In fact, the CFC points out that gyms are able to and have enforced the same guidelines as health care facilities. Third, the group notes that closing off access to gyms has a worse impact on people of lower socioeconomic status because alternatives for exercise may not be readily available to these groups. For instance, going outside to exercise won’t be feasible as winter approaches, not everyone can afford a home gym and not everyone has reliable Wi-Fi to do virtual fitness classes.

Access to gyms isn’t just beneficial for the physical well-being of Coloradans – it’s also beneficial for mental and emotional health. People haven’t been able to be as active during the pandemic and many feel isolated, lonely and depressed. The CFC emphasizes that because of the struggles and challenges people have been through during the pandemic, fitness is crucial for both physical and mental well-being.

What successes and challenges has the CFC faced?

As far as challenges go, Jost explains that changing public opinion about gyms is difficult, as is advocating that fitness centers should be named as critical service businesses that ought to remain open for the good of the mental and physical health of Coloradans.

However, Jost points to the Colorado Dial Dashboard, a tool for gyms to reference, as a success. The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) came up with a way to show, at the county level, the appropriate degree of “openness” through a standardized dial system. The tracker uses key metrics for each county and moves the county between different levels depending on these metrics.

Speaking to officials to make several important points about fitness centers was another success. There was a time in October where it looked like several counties in Colorado were going to shift to Level Orange, meaning that gyms would have to close. In response, the CFC (with advice from their lobbyist) contacted the governor’s COVID team as well as their local health departments and the CDPHE Executive Director. This is where the group was able to explain the messages outlined above – that gyms can enforce safety and that they can track and trace. This data shows gyms are safe and that access to exercise is essential during these difficult times. Opening that dialogue was highly important.

What does the future hold for the Colorado Fitness Coalition?

The CFC is not going to go away when the pandemic ends. According to Jost, it’s expected that the group will continue to work together to strengthen the voice of the fitness industry. The CFC wants to remain relevant so that they can respond if legislative or regulatory issues come up in the future.
In fact, Jost said that it has “really been an educational and wonderful experience” working with others in the fitness industry despite being competitors. She points to working with her peers in the fitness industry to keep their businesses open as the most rewarding aspect of being a part of the CFC.