No charge for Virgin Active members wanting to 'freeze' accounts for 30 days
Planet Fitness says it will also suspend memberships on request
Virgin Active has announced that it will waive its usual “freeze fee”, allowing “members reluctant to train in a club given fears about coronavirus” to pause their memberships for free for 30 days at a time.
“Virgin Active follows government guidelines on managing the coronavirus threat, not only from the South African government but also from the other seven countries in which we operate,” said Carla White, head of media communications.
“We have been able to learn from other countries who have experienced the virus before us, and adopt best practice from these countries.”
All clubs are open, but with several interventions and adaptations to take into account new hygiene and social distancing needs, including reducing class sizes by 50%.
Boxing pads, gloves, yoga belts, suspension yoga hammocks and resistance bands have been removed, and suspension yoga and active band classes have been temporarily suspended.
Johannesburg resident Alice Vogt posted on Facebook this week: “Tried to ‘pause’ my Virgin Active membership, but was told you can’t do that. Had to cancel and will have to pay joining fee again if I want to go back. Think I may not go back.”
TimesLIVE asked Virgin Active on Wednesday night: “Given the declaration of a national disaster and the fact that the president has urged South Africans to avoid contact with others as far as possible, does Virgin Active not feel that offering its members the option of suspending their memberships — and the need to pay fees — during the crisis is morally and medically justified?”
On Thursday morning, the fitness company replied: “We understand that members may be reluctant to train in a club, given fears about coronavirus.
“We will waiver our 50% freeze fee, and we will freeze [pause] a member’s contract free of charge, for 30 days at a time.
“A member does need to request this by phoning 0860 200 911. Terms and conditions apply.”
Planet Fitness’s website lists what the company has done to keep its members safe, including sanitising stations, deep cleaning, temperature testing of staff, reduced class sizes and a new two-towel rule.
There is no mention of a membership freeze, but a call centre agent told TimesLIVE on Thursday that the company would pause memberships on request.