Due to the risk of COVID-19 and the MN Department of Health's recommendations, the following changes have been made:
• All Vertical Endeavors climbing facilities will be closed from Tuesday, March 17, 2020 tentatively.
• As of March 16, 2020, Vertical Endeavors has cancelled all in-person Yoga & Fitness classes, clinics, and events until further notice. Plans are being made to provide online content to keep our customers and members connected and active.
• All Monthly EFT Team dues will be frozen (freeze fee will be waived) for the duration of the gym closures.
• All Monthly EFT Memberships will be frozen (freeze fee will be waived) for the duration of the gym closures.
• All prepaid (annual) Memberships will be put on hold. In other words, the time of gym closure will be added to your membership as an extension.
AN UPDATE TO THE VERTICAL ENDEAVORS CLIMBING COMMUNITY
In response to the growing concerns of the COVID-19 pandemic, all Vertical Endeavors climbing facilities in Minnesota and Illinois were temporarily closed on March 17, 2020. This also meant that all our programs and events were cancelled for the foreseeable future. As a result, all monthly EFT memberships and team dues were frozen and the freeze fee is waived for the duration of the gym closures. Additionally, all prepaid (annual) memberships were put on hold. Members have not lost any value in their membership. The time of the gym closure will be added to prepaid memberships as an extension.
Currently, we remain closed and much of our staff have been laid-off or furloughed so that they could immediately take advantage of State unemployment benefits and the Federal CARES Act. During the first portion of the closure, we had many of our full-time employees working in the gyms on deep cleaning, maintenance, and improvement projects. The new slab wall in Minneapolis, the yoga rooms in Minneapolis and Glendale Heights, and a new floor finish at the Twin Cities Bouldering Gym, were among many tasks completed during this time. As you can imagine, it has not been easy to navigate all of this when there has been zero income at our facilities. However, a commitment by our owners to provide the best, hometown climbing experience for our members and guests has continued through these difficult days. I think you will be pleased when you return to the gym.
Many of our members are ready and eager to be climbing again. In a recent cross-country survey by the Climbing Industry, over 94% of over 23,000 climbing respondents said they are ready to return to the climbing gym1 (33% without any measures and another 61% with sensible distance rules and hygiene measures in place). In a recent poll in Minnesota, 80% of health and fitness club members who responded said that they are ready to return to their club. They see the benefits of fitness and exercise to their physical, emotional, and psychological health and so do we. The value of climbing and the climbing community is a tremendous asset, especially in times like these. Vertical Endeavors is anxious and ready to welcome you back. Be assured that Vertical Endeavors will have the appropriate guidelines in place and take all the necessary precautions when we reopen our facilities. With detailed cleaning and safety protocols within our facilities, we are confident in our ability to provide you with environments that prioritize your health and wellbeing.
Vertical Endeavors has been working hard during the closure to research and implement several changes and procedures to help make our facilities a safe place for our employees, members, and guests. However, until we have an indication from State authorities concerning their requirements for reopening and operating, all our planning is tentative. I know many would like to know the specific details of our plan. But, it would be premature and ill-considered to present a plan without having all considerations in place. As those details and the timing become clearer, we will begin to communicate the facility improvements and new protocols that will enhance the health and safety of those using our gyms. These actions will promote hygiene, social distancing, and viral mitigation procedures.
Personal responsibility will be important. If you are ill or have been exposed to someone who has been diagnosed with COVID-19, we will ask that you stay home. Measures like temperature checks upon entry, answering required diagnostic questions when checking-in, wearing face coverings, hand washing & sanitizing, belay partner limits, capacity restrictions, etc. will also be part of the process. These actions, in conjunction with increased cleaning and disinfecting procedures throughout the gym, are being incorporated into our reopening and preparedness plan.
One of the main concerns is how are we going to sanitize handholds and climbing surfaces that everyone is going to touch? According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the primary and most important mode of transmission for COVID-19 is through close contact from person-to-person. Based on data from lab studies on COVID-19 and what we know about similar respiratory diseases, it may be possible that a person can get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose, or possibly their eyes, but this isn’t thought to be the main way the virus spreads. Among the many protocols being implemened upon reopening will be to communicate, educate, and monitor several actions that will enhance the health and safety of those using our facilities. Actions such as social distancing, wearing face coverings, hand washing/sanitizing upon entry, before, and after each climb, etc. will be These actions in conjunction with increased cleaning and disinfecting throughout the gym are part of our action plan. Modeling, teaching, and monitoring good practices such as washing or disinfecting your hands before and after each climb (without touching your face or face covering) will go a long way toward addressing the concern of viral transmission.
No entity can guarantee a completely sterile environment, but we feel we are much better prepared than many other businesses like stores, restaurants, places of community gatherings, etc. to address and control such things. Unfortunately, there is a lot of false information and fear circulating through our society. We have made a tremendous investment in preparing our gyms to open appropriately. This is why Vertical Endeavors has joined a coalition of health and fitness experts to make fact-based decisions and promote reopening guidelines for the industry. There are those who have legitimate concerns as to how and if we should reopen. Trust that we also have those concerns and are giving due diligence to them.
The message that fitness & wellness are essential, not optional, is important. We are prepared to open with appropriate measures in place and would like that message to get to Minnesota Governor Tim Walz (email or @govtimwalz on Twitter) and Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker (email or @govpritzker on Twitter). We respect their work to manage this very challenging crisis. But, now is the time to make health and fitness an essential component of moving forward. We are asking the Governors to consider and provide their timeline and safety guidelines for small-business owners of gyms/clubs/studios to reopen.
In Minnesota there is a petition to get this message in front of Governor Walz at https://bit.ly/2M1Uqvo. If you live in Minnesota and agree with our message, please click on the link and add your support to the petition.
We also know it is imperative to be equipped with health-related facts about the current situation in order to make decisions for yourself, while escaping pervasive fear and hype. Please consider the following:
- Exercise builds healthy, resilient bodies – it improves mood, reduces stress, and strengthens immune function, which is our best defense against serious illness or early death.2, 3
- Not everyone who is exposed to the SARS-CoV-2 virus becomes infected – many younger, healthier individuals may not become ill, even if exposed or infected.4, 5
- The CDC states that close, personal contact and exposure to respiratory droplets from contagious individuals is the primary way SARS-CoV-2 spreads – it does not appear to spread easily via sweat or contaminated surfaces.6
- COVID-19, the disease some people develop when infected with SARS-CoV-2 is not our only health risk – shelter-in-place orders are increasing anxiety, delaying routine care for dozens of chronic health conditions, increasing tobacco and alcohol use, diminishing mental well-being, and increasing suicide rates.7, 8
Finally, many have reached out with questions about their memberships, refunds for groups and teams that have been cancelled, etc. Because our facilities have been closed, our marketing team is on furlough, and our local staff have not been working, communication has been slowed. Thank-you for your patience. One of the first tasks of our facility managers will be to process all those inquiries and requests. Of course, they will have much to do to get ready before the lights are turned on and the doors open. So, continued understanding will be necessary. It will take a little time to catch-up. Like most of you, we were ill-prepared for this unexpected and sustained closure.
Thank you for choosing to be a member at Vertical Endeavors. We value you, your health, and your safety. Our objective is to reopen our gyms to serve those who are ready to return. For those who are not ready, we will have appropriate plans in place to work with you.
We hope to see you climbing again soon and appreciate your support.
Dr. Tracy R. Paino
Vertical Endeavors Climbing Gyms
Attention all VE Monthly EFT Members, Climb Team & Club members. Due to our extended closure and new Stay at Home order we will not be doing the April 5th monthly EFT deduction from you account. No monthly EFT deductions will be done until our facilities re-open.
Vertical Endeavors Climbing Community,
In response to the ever-changing and increasingly alarming coronavirus (COVID-19) situation in the United States and the world, Vertical Endeavors climbing gym is closing all of its facilities beginning Tuesday, March 17, 2020 and tentatively through Sunday, March 29, 2020. It is a difficult decision because we wanted to remain open and be available to our members and customers. We had hoped that following all the CDC protocols and taking the necessary precautions would allow us to continue serving those who wished to climb and/or work-out during these stressful times. Our desire was to continue to be a place where you could workout, relieve some stress, and continue a routine that is both physically and mentally helpful.
One of my favorite quotes is attributed to Ralph Waldo Emerson. Although the attribution is questionable, the quote is nevertheless true. “Fear defeats more people than any other one thing in the world.” At this historic time of uncertainty in our society over the threat of the coronavirus (COVID-19), fear has certainly been prevalent. But we want to make decisions on the very real concerns that we are facing. There are still a lot of unknowns and people are responding in a variety of ways. Another good quote is found in Evan Currie’s The Heart of Matter, “the difference between courage and stupidity is measured by success and survival.”
We are being asked to respond to the uncertainty and the unknown with what we are told is little margin for error. The line between overcoming our fears and making courageous decisions seems very thin. As a company whose objective is to provide great customer service through our climbing gyms and fitness programs, we are trying to walk that line by making decisions that will be best for our customers, our members, our staff, our community, and our future.
Our management team and staff are committed to continued efforts in providing a great and healthy place to climb, workout, and have fun in the future. For now, however, we are taking the following steps:
- All Vertical Endeavors climbing facilities will be closed from Tuesday, March 17, 2020 tentatively through Sunday, March 29, 2020.
- As of today, March 16, 2020, Vertical Endeavors has cancelled all in-person Yoga & Fitness classes, clinics, and events until further notice. Plans are being made to provide online content to keep our customers and members connected and active.
- As of today, March 16, 2020, Vertical Endeavors has postponed all Climbing Team & Climbing League programming until further notice. Plans are being made to provide online content to keep our customers and members connected and active.
- All Climbing Camps scheduled from March 17, 2020 through April have been cancelled.
- The following events have been cancelled:
• Speakeasy (VEM), March 21, 2020 (announcement forthcoming if it will be rescheduled
• HopeKids (VES), March 22, 2020 (announcement forthcoming if it will be rescheduled)
• Uptown Pump Competition (VEM), April 18, 2020
- All Monthly EFT Team dues will be frozen (freeze fee will be waived) for the duration of the gym closures.
- All Monthly EFT Memberships will be frozen (freeze fee will be waived) for the duration of the gym closures.
- All prepaid (annual) Memberships will be put on hold. In other words, the time of gym closure will be added to your membership as an extension.
As valued members of our community, you have our support and encouragement during this difficult time. We value your support as we navigate these uncharted paths. Please watch our social media and our website for further announcements and information. We hope to stay connected with you and will be utilizing those avenues to keep you informed.
Thank you for your friendship. Stay safe and healthy!
Dr. Tracy Paino
Dear Valued Customers,
Because of the concerns about the potential spread of coronavirus (COVID-19), Vertical Endeavors is taking extra steps to reduce the spread of viruses and bacteria in an attempt to keep our customers and members safe and healthy. WE are increasing the cleaning and sanitation of all spaces such as door handles, railings, fitness equipment, and the front desk surfaces throughout the day. Our staff will use disinfectant spray that kills viruses, bacteria, and more. Please help us by wiping down the exercise equipment before and after you use it with disinfectant spray and wipes that are placed nearby.
By nature, climbers and the climbing industry acknowledge and assume the various risks that exist. One of the basic facts about climbing is that “climbing is inherently dangerous.” Regarding the current concern over the coronavirus (COVID-19), it is also reasonable to say, “climbing gyms cannot be fully sanitized." The nature of climbing—grabbing holds and handling ropes that others have also touched—accentuates the risk of transmission. It is reasonable to admit that climbing walls, like any public spaces, will always carry these risks.
Therefore, we are also asking everyone to wash their hands immediately when they enter the facility, before climbing, and before using any exercise equipment. Customers should also consider additional washing at various times throughout their workout and at the conclusion of their time in the gym. Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth at any time. When washing your hands please use soap and hot water for at least 20 seconds.
Additionally, everyone should practice good sneezing and coughing etiquette. Cover your cough or sneeze into a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash. If you are sick, feel ill or, have any symptoms that are associated with the coronavirus (COVID-19), please stay home. The government is asking people to call their doctor if they find symptoms instead of going into the emergency room.
There will be signage around the facility reminding everyone to . . .
- Wash your hands before, during, and after climbing
- Wipe down the exercise equipment before and after use with disinfectant spray or wipes
- Be kind to your friends and stay home when you are sick
Vertical Endeavors cleans and maintains each of our facilities with the customer in mind. Help us keep everyone safe and healthy by adhering to these new policies and by washing your hands immediately upon entering the facility!!
We will continue to monitor the situation and adjust our approach as necessary. The climbing community is a beautiful tapestry of people and personalities across a wide spectrum of life. This variety makes it a wonderful group with which to be associated. When we come together to help one another it is fantastic. Stay safe and stay healthy!
Dr. Tracy Paino