San Diego Business Journal

Chuze Fitness, the San Diego-based family-owned fitness center chain with seven locations locally and 30 total, is finally ready to welcome back its members.

Later this week, Chuze Fitness, with 300 out of 1,200 employees in the county and revenue of $75 million in 2019, will operate its Chula Vista facility out of an adjacent fenced-in, 8,000 square foot outdoor area. To accommodate as many guests as possible within social distancing guidelines, an additional 4,000 square feet from the bordering parking lot will be utilized as well.

“Our goal is to roll it out on Aug. 14, that is the reopening day for ‘Chuze Outdoors’,” said Cory Brightwell, CEO. “We closed on March 16 and were shut down for three months. But when we reopened in San Diego on June 13 for about a month, we got a great response. A large percentage of our members were anxious to get back in the gym. We had a great first week of reopening and we could see a lot of enthusiasm in people’s faces behind their masks.”

The objective, Brightwell said, is for the company to retain the 95% of its members that have remained throughout the lockdown, and, if Chuze Outdoors proves to be relatively successful, recreate the model at other locations down the line.

Test Market

“This is our hope,” Brightwell said, “but it will depend on landlords allowing us to use parking lot spaces and the cities being ok with outdoor workouts. Chula Vista was the best test market and hopefully it gets a good response.”

To set the stage, Brightwell said large banquet-style tents have been erected in the outdoor area, where cardio and strength machines as well as free-weights have been moved to. He said, because the Chula Vista location, opened four years ago, is only three miles from the National City studio, he hopes to attract some of those members as well.

On the safety aspect, Brightwell said he has set up disinfecting and hand sanitizing stations and members will have regulated access to bathrooms inside the facility, although showers and lockers are off limits. Additionally, both staff and guests are encouraged to follow the four Ws, he said: wash hands, workout six feet apart, wipe equipment and wear a mask.

On-Demand Program

As an added option, Chuze Fitness will also launch iChuzeFitness.com, a live and on-demand program for both members and non-members for a cost of $5.99/month, said Brightwell. The portal includes a large library of various types of workout formats, he said, that spawned from the virtual Instagram and Facebook live videos that Chuze Fitness has offered since the shutdown in March.

“The thought was, how can we allow nine out of 30 clubs to keep us afloat?” said Brightwell, adding that Chuze Fitness gyms are still open in the states of Colorado and New Mexico. “To that, we responded with our virtual live and on-demand platform. During our closure months, we took the opportunity to get our rockstar team in training and coaches in front of the camera in high-quality production studios to put together a program that members could watch from home even while we are closed.”