The Fitness Studio at the Comox Recreation Centre is adjusting their system to help frustrated users who cannot find a timeslot when others don't show up for their prebooked time. (Pixabay)

Comox Rec implementing new system to help frustrated gym users

“We are monitoring … our service structure … to provide the best possible service we can.”

Following inquires from the public and canvassing their users, the Comox Community Centre is implementing a new strategy for customers who don’t attend pre-booked fitness studio time-slots.

The Record has received complaints from users indicating that some gym members have been booking multiple slots during a day but may only be using one slot. As there is a limit on the number of users in the gym at once due to COVID-19 protocols, this is impacting those wanting to use the facilities.

Ted Hagmeier, recreation director for the Town of Comox said in an email the fitness studio is operating under pandemic protocols that continue to be refined and adjusted as provincial health orders are released. Currently, the protocols include a reduced occupancy limit to ensure physical distancing, requirements to preregister attendance to maintain the limit and for contact tracing and to allow time to schedule regular cleaning throughout the day.

Each time-slot that users can book is 75-minutes in length and has a maximum of 23 spots; they are followed by 15 minutes for staff to clean equipment. There are 54 time-slots per week are slots are open seven days in advance, with access on a first-come, first-served basis. Registration is available in person, by phone and online.

RELATED: Comox Valley swimmers frustrated with booking system

“In an effort to help us refine and improve our services in this COVID environment, we surveyed Fitness Studio membership holders in December and included a question around consequences for no shows, which the majority of respondents supported,” he noted.

“Based on that feedback, we created a strategy to encourage customers to withdraw from time-slots they can’t attend, rather than solely focusing on penalizing them.”

The strategy involves sending fitness studio members an email on how to withdraw from a booking to encourage responsible use. Following three no shows, customers will receive an email reminder to withdraw. Hagmeier noted they will be monitoring customer attendance after they receive the email and staff are calling customers whose attendance doesn’t improve.

Finally, he added customers who continue to miss their time-slots will receive a penalty based on the frequency and duration of their absences.

“We are monitoring, responding and adjusting our service structure and internal procedures to provide the best possible service we can, give the limitations and challenges COVID continues to bring.”

Within the City of Courtenay, the city said it tracks Wellness Centre reservations and if someone does not attend their booking, staff follow up with a call to remind them that users need to phone in and cancel their time-slot, explained Lisa Zervakis, communications and marketing specialist for the city.

“We find these reminders work and participants are remembering to cancel. We are then able to fill that spot with someone from the waitlist.”

Both facilities are accepting bookings online or via the phone. The Village of Cumberland did not respond to inquires about their booking system by deadline.

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