MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) - One of the largest fitness clubs in the country is the latest company to announce furloughs. Life Time is based here in Minnesota. Thirty-five thousand employees, including 6-thousand here, will be off the payroll beginning this weekend.
Parking lots are empty at Life Time clubs across the country. With gyms closed during the pandemic, 150 are quiet, including 24 in Minnesota.
Ninety-percent of employees will be furloughed.
"For a short time period this is going to be OK, but for a long period of time it's not," CEO Bahram Akradi said.
The employees are the life blood of Life Time said Akradi and the decision weighed heavily.
"I'm not worried about me. I'm worried about my people. They are my life blood. They have given me their trust for 30 years and they have built this company," Akradi said.
Life Time has put $10 million into a fund to provide emergency assistance for team members and will pay 100-percent of healthcare premiums during the furlough.
"With the goal that when the storm is over, clubs open, I have 100-percent of my people back on the ship going," Akradi said.
Akradi says he sees a way out of the pandemic.
"I believe our country is melting down and we're not able to open our eyes and see it. We need to fight two wars with defense and offense," Akradi said.
He identifies one as COVID-19, the other, restarting the economy. He's laid out a plan, welcoming input from other leaders. Akradi says what's most critical is having an end date for businesses.
"If I knew it's going to be May 1, I know what the damage is going to be. Then I can plan how to fix the damage. if I don't know what the date is, I have no idea what the damage is going to be so I can't plan any fix," Akradi said.
In the meantime, he's pledged to help Minnesota. Akradi said he's offered to help the state in any way he can, turning clubs into child care centers or even hospitals.
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