Üllar Seerme

Venting on the lack of hind- and foresight

November 26, 2020

At 2:18 AM on the 25th of November the fitness and training-oriented company My Fitness AS sent out an email with a subject that could be translated as “For your safety!❤️” (a sign of things to come if they can’t even properly use spacing). I have not been able to stop thinking about that email, and I feel I have to vent to even possibly begin the process of letting it go.

Normally this would result in a personal email to them, but I have zero reasons to believe that would even begin to move any gears within their system, seeing as they were dumb enough to even release such a statement.

Here is the content of that email, which is hopefully visible here on their website as well (I’ve added the exact same points of emphasis they had in the original email):

In order to make it safe for all of us to continue training, we have introduced additional preventive measures based on the orders of the government of the Republic of Estonia:

In addition, to protect the health and safety of our club members and visitors, we have taken the following measures:

In my opinion, there is just so much wrong with mostly everything written there. From their wording, to their use of emphasis, and to their utter lack of understanding what had happened before to what will happen in the future if they continue with such laissez-faire practices concerning health and well-being. Let’s go through the points I find to be so abhorrent.

I’ll be referencing the Estonian government’s latest (at the time of writing) restrictions that went into place on November 23rd, which can be seen here, throughout this rebuking.

Point 1

When entering the club, a mask must be worn in the service area. The mask is not mandatory in the gym, group trainings, SPA and locker rooms.

Chiefly among the latest government restrictions is:

An obligation to wear a mask or to cover one’s nose and mouth is introduced in public indoor spaces, including public transport and service points.

Where a “public indoor space” is defined as:

[…] a space intended for public use that can be entered by anyone, regardless of the pre-registration requirement, for example; it is a place with many people who do not come into contact with each other on a daily basis.

Is it My Fitness’ contention that the gym, group trainings, the spa, and locker rooms are not public spaces because the people in those areas come into contact with each other on a daily basis? Does that mean they only allow in the same people every day? Do they make sure you only spend time with the same people outside of the gym as they do inside? Are they not allowing any new people to sign up who could break this magical herd’s immunity? Or, are they just afraid of the inevitable ire of the people who are so opposed to any sort of mask-wearing that they would rather make a point so empty of value than anything more concrete?

As an aside: when you go into one of the facilities, there are absolutely no enforcements to this point. They do not care whatsoever whether you come in with a mask or not. And why would they? Are they really going to turn down people who just need to get from the service area to the wardrobe, a minute’s walk away?

You might have noticed that I glossed over the very first sentence in the email and that wasn’t by accident as I wanted to go over the first point prior to that as that makes the first sentence all the more glaring (emphasis mine):

In order to make it safe for all of us to continue training

Try to now read their first point without questioning how the hell something like that could have ever made it out in to the open…

It really does seem like they are having a hard time with wanting to seem compliant in terms of the law, but still wanting to have their own spin on the whole thing. It’s the only way you could say something nonsensical like “additional preventive measures based on” and still think you’re on the up and up.

Point 3

From 25.11, we will reduce the duration of most training classes to 30 minutes, in order to spread the workouts and offer different club members the opportunity to participate in group training.

While I have no bone to pick the portion of the sentence they emphasized, the latter portion stands out in that they want to offer different club members the opportunity to participate. All well and good, but if by their own first point they are not mandating any PPE usage, then isn’t that “opportunity” just an opportunity to increase the chance of an infection? After all, nothing is stopping anyone from just signing up their club, registering to a training class, and having a whale of a time without a mask.

Point 4

We continue to follow the 2 + 2 rule.

Who is this “we” that they refer to? Are they speaking about their employees? The collective “we, the members and employees of the club”? Totally unclear, and in either case: many hours I have spent at their gyms and I can safely say that not once has this rule been followed, implemented or been enforced. People mill about in exactly the same way they have before the scourge of the coronavirus.

This platitude of “we continue to follow” falls awfully flat when there is literally zero track record of it ever being followed in any capacity.

Point 5

The use of a training towel is still mandatory (on the mat, on the bench, on the training device, on the floor).

I’m starting to notice a pattern here where they say something is mandatory, but they don’t seem to understand that making something mandatory requires more than just saying the word itself. They have had this practice, if you can call it that, prior to the world being engulfed with everything coronavirus related and even then this was more something some people chose to follow, but most not.

Having this as a feel-good highlight in their public announcement just serves, along with the other points, to only inflate their supposed level of caring in the eyes of the customers, but actually does not do anything if someone isn’t actually making sure that training towels are being used wherever possible.

Point 6

We still disinfect equipment before and after training.

Again with the “we”… At least with this point I can agree half-heartedly as most people do disinfect equipment after training, but almost never before as the assumption seems to be that if everyone does it after their own training, then the disinfection prior isn’t necessary.

Sadly all of the equipment isn’t even disinfected by the cleaning staff before the club is opened. Maybe the same assumption is being made that surely everyone disinfects after their training, thus time can be saved and disinfection can be foregone.

I sincerely hope that it is becoming more clear that they have no regard for anything resembling any kind of meaningful preventative measures outside of just saying they do.

And I’m still not done! As shown above, the announcement goes on to list more measures they have implemented. All of them seemingly as a result of the government’s latest restrictions, but what they fail to mention is that most of them have been in place way before the pandemic. A bad form of greenwashing for the virus-laden times we live in.

Points 7 & 8

Both of these have been around since probably the time they’ve opened any of their clubs, and if not, then most certainly way before the pandemic. It is an outright lie to mention these as measures that have been taken in light of COVID-19.

Point 9

We have provided masks and gloves for the employees of the sports club.

Wow, that is awfully thoughtful of them! Is this because they consider their employees, not the hundreds of different people coming in and out of the clubs every day, to be the most likely spreaders of the virus? Then how come no personal trainers wear masks? Have they conveniently labeled them as contractors, and not employees, to make this statement even more useless?

Point 10

People with symptoms are prohibited from visiting the clubs.

Ooh, they’re really striking the hammer down now! Too bad there is no way on Earth this could be followed by them or is actively even being attempted at being followed.

Points 11 & 12

See points 5 and 6 above. More pandering.

Point 13

The club cleaning services are elevated to a higher level.

Okay, this could actually be something worthwhile, but there is no mention anywhere as to what this entails, so how can this be taken to mean anything?

Point 15

We offer long opening times, which helps to disperse the intensity of visits.

Sure, long opening times are great for many reasons, but you know would help a heck of a lot more? Making wearing masks, disinfecting equipment, and using training towels mandatory instead of spouting all this drivel!

According to their filings, My Fitness made roughly 5.4M euros in revenue in Q1 of 2020, which fell to about 1.8M euros in Q2 following the lockdown. That is a difference of more than 65% in a single quarter! During that time they also had to let go of a large number of employees (in Estonian), including customer service personnel and personal trainers.

It boggles my mind that knowing all of that and with subsequent restrictions looming on the horizon that the head honchos at My Fitness are not willing to put in to practice known methods of combating the virus. Instead, they waste their time with platitudes that serve no one but the most ignorant among us.

I don’t pretend to know how rosy things could be for them in the future should they opt for a stricter approach, but a big part of me really wants to believe that if they went all out with protecting their members, employees, and themselves in a larger sense, by:

then they could make a substantial case for their clubs to be an exception to the next lockdown where sports facilities are mandated shut. Wouldn’t all of that still be a net benefit to their revenue and image should everything go awry again?

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