American Council on Exercise by American Council on Exercise

There is no question that the COVID-19 pandemic reshaped the fitness industry for good.

Aside from making programmatic changes—such as offering outdoor group exercise classes and virtual training programs—many fitness professionals learned that their clients needed support that went beyond physical fitness. 

Folks also wanted access to more safe, inclusive spaces where they felt welcomed and emotionally supported in their personal journey to wellness. This was especially crucial during a time of unprecedented stress and uncertainty.

Chuze Fitness was already well ahead of the curve. Since its founding in 2008, Chuze has remained true to its mission: to provide safe, affordable, and inclusive fitness for all in a state-of-the-art facility. 

In this Q&A session, Farel Hruska, Director of Education and Culture at Chuze Fitness, explains how Chuze’s long-standing commitment to wellness helped their clients thrive throughout the pandemic—and beyond. 

What makes Chuze Fitness different from other gyms or fitness clubs? 

FH: Chuze is profoundly unique for the simple reason that we put people first. Our clients matter more to us than profit initiatives, sales, or any other metric. Our efforts are entirely focused on making a difference in the lives of our employees, members, and communities. 

We place a particularly high priority on our underrepresented communities. For example, much of my work is rooted in leading our Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion initiatives alongside an alliance created with folks on our teams who represent underserved communities. 

Chuze truly believes that when we can create a safe, inclusive space for folks to truly feel welcomed and celebrated, they then have the confidence to truly work on body, mind, and soul. This makes all the difference. 

In what ways did Chuze change their traditional indoor service offerings during the pandemic to provide safe accommodation for their clients? 

FH: Soon after we were mandated to close, Chuze began planning for outdoor versions of our offerings. We collaborated with our designers to set up the equipment in ways that felt familiar to our clients, could protect them from the elements, and continued to offer the safety our members and teams need and deserve. 

We also made the big decision to create an online platform so that our incredible coaches and instructors could still reach the humans who flocked to them prior to the shutdown. This online space, iChuze, still exists today. We realize that many of our clients still need an alternative to onsite fitness moving forward, and we want them to know they will always have a family and home with us. 

Now that indoor fitness facilities have reopened, do you find that Chuze clients still have a strong interest in alternative exercise options? 

FH: Absolutely! Above all, the safety of our immunocompromised clients, and those with immunocompromised loved ones at home, is paramount to Chuze. Those individuals need a reliable, stable space like iChuze to stay connected to our team and family so that they can continue their fitness journey. 

But we also understand that for other clients, the thought of walking into a gym can be extremely intimidating. And while Chuze does everything we can to make our spaces safe, welcoming, and inviting, some clients may still need or prefer to stay connected to us virtually. And that’s always okay! 

What do you feel are the most impactful results of the programming changes you've made at Chuze since the pandemic? 

FH: Chuze’s mission has always been to meet people where they are. Fitness and wellness look different for everybody, and we embrace that. A good bit of the industry has had a reputation for “getting the fit fitter.” And while our facilities do speak to that community, we want others to know we are here for them. 

At Chuze, every individual’s fitness journey is important and it is seen. COVID-19 shined a light on a few core principles: we need each other, we need a safe space to exist, and we need to feel that we matter. Those tenets have always been and will continue to be the foundation of Chuze Fitness.

To learn more about how ACE’s Moving Together Outside campaign supports a safe, inclusive fitness journey for people in all communities across the U.S., visit our website. 

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