Life in Ukraine is forever altered. One fitness chain provides humanitarian assistance from the battle grounds while others collect support from afar. Here’s how you can join the effort.
War is a disfigurement of the human experience—a painful and heartbreaking ordeal bluntly summed up by the phrase, “War is hell.”
The scenes from Ukraine tell the story. Life in the country is forever altered. IHRSA and its membership recognize the importance of helping those suffering deprivation and destruction in the ongoing conflict in Ukraine and are calling on the industry to provide humanitarian assistance to the country.
Sport Life, the leading fitness chain in Ukraine, has seen some clubs destroyed and converted many of their intact facilities into makeshift refugee centers where people temporarily stay as they make their way to safety in neighboring countries. Everything from squash courts to group training studios have become temporary shelter for displaced citizens fleeing the violence.
Founded 16 years ago, Sport Life has 55 locations throughout the country, with more than 3,500 employees and more than 1,000,000 members, including approximately 100,000 children. Known for being family-friendly facilities, the clubs were community centers long before the conflict.
Sport Life also has a full-cycle manufacturing plant near Kiev that produces and restores all types of equipment—cardio, free weights, functional training equipment, resistance machines, etc. There are 17,000 ready-to-use simulators in the warehouses of the plant.
In a recent video call, Sport Life’s co-founders, Dmitry Bondarenko and Aleksandr Molodukha, and vice president, Dmitry Scherbakov, spoke with CBI and issued an urgent plea for help. With no end in sight to the crisis they seek food, clothing, and financial donations.
The Sport Life leaders also mentioned that the equipment in their Kiev-area plant is ready to supply clubs in nearby countries—e.g., Poland and Hungary—when they are able.
The Sport Life founders have accepted more than 10,000 people fleeing the violence—many children—into their clubs. They will continue to offer their clubs as safe havens for people as long as possible.
What You Can Do to Help Ukraine
Many IHRSA members have already encouraged their members and community to help with humanitarian efforts. Here’s what a few member clubs have done to support Ukraine.
VIDA Fitness issued an appeal for donations of physical supplies through one of their personal trainers, a Ukrainian, Ola Radchenko. Other companies are also providing options for sending aid.
Chelsea Piers Connecticut is hosting a “Week for Peace” from April 25-30 to raise money for the humanitarian and medical efforts in Ukraine. All funds raised throughout this week will go to the Ukrainian National Women’s League of America and Revived Soldiers Ukraine.
SC Fitness, a Sonae Capital Group brand, took part in Missão Continente’s campaign to provide financial support and assistance to Ukraine.
The West Wood Club, in association with the Refugee Centre at Bielawa in Poland, became a drop-off point for household appliances and medical supplies.
Here are recommended charities to send donations:
World Central Kitchen (WCK)—an organization that provides meals to families in Ukraine, Poland, Romania, Moldova, and Hungary. WCK was founded by Chef José Andrés.
Razom for Ukraine provides medical supplies to Ukraine.
The American Red Cross or its overseas affiliate, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies
Charity Navigator provides a network of vetted charities that can direct your donation for medical services, housing, nonmedical services, and other options.
We’ll continue to stay in touch with IHRSA members and fitness facilities in Ukraine. Please help if you can. Their needs are many and urgent.
We sympathize with all Russian members and partners impacted by the conflict.
Share this story on social media with #FitnessForPeace to promote awareness, collect donations, and call on the global fitness industry for support.
Jim Schmaltz is a contributor to IHRSA.org
IHRSA, the International Health, Racquet & Sportsclub Association, is a not-for-profit trade association representing the global fitness industry of over 200,000 health and fitness facilities and their suppliers.
IHRSA maintains a leadership role in advancing physical activity, which is critical to peak health and fight the battle against obesity and chronic lifestyle disease. As one of the world’s leading authorities on the commercial health club industry, IHRSA’s mission is to grow, promote, and protect the health and fitness industry. IHRSA provides its members with benefits and resources that will help them be more successful. IHRSA and its members are devoted to making the world happier, healthier, and more prosperous through regular exercise and activity promotion. IHRSA is the publisher of Club Business International, the leading monthly magazine for the global fitness industry.