There’s light finally at the end of the tunnel for the thousands of club owners and operators across England after Boris Johnson unveiled his long-awaited roadmap out of the third national lockdown.
In recognition of the important role that our sector plays in the public’s physical and mental physical wellbeing, gyms will follow in the second phase of openings, meaning they should be able to reopen to customers from 12th April, with group exercise restarting from 17th May.
It's time for recovery.
This announcement is fantastic news for our industry, particularly as many feared gyms would be forced to endure a much longer lockdown. And they are needed more than ever. The long months of restrictions have had a profound impact on some people’s activity levels. Sport England research in the first weeks of full lockdown (mid-March and mid-May 2020) found an unprecedented drop in activity, with just over three million fewer adults classing themselves as active.
Many people adapted to find new ways of exercising during the pandemic - taking part in online classes such as MZ-Remote, going for daily walks, or exercising with their children, but many others have not. Sport England continued to track physical activity throughout the pandemic and also monitored people’s attitudes to exercise.
According to its update published in January, people were more active during the first lockdown from late March to mid-May 2020, and least active from mid-October to late-November, 2020. There are a variety of themes affecting their motivation and physical activity. These include anxiety about catching the virus, particularly in indoor settings; financial concerns, especially amongst younger adults (16 to 24-year-olds), and reduced opportunities to exercise due to the restrictions.
Our shared responsibility.
These concerns present an opportunity for gym owners and PTs to continue to meet communities where they want to be, as we emerge from lockdown number three. We’ve been blown away by the tenacity demonstrated by club owners and operators throughout this pandemic, by their willingness to learn, to adapt and to innovate. They will need to continue to employ these skills as we move through this next phase of transition.
People who have kept up with their workouts and remained engaged can’t wait to get back to their club, but for others it may not be possible or preferable. MZ-Remote continues to provide the opportunity for gym owners, trainers and entrepreneurs to leverage the community link and run classes for both those in the gym (when restrictions are lifted) and those at home. It's up to us all to support people on their fitness journey whether they want to exercise from home, outdoors or from our clubs.
Fitness for the future.
The fitness sector has so much to offer people, including helping them protect themselves against COVID-19 and other diseases so that they can enjoy longer, healthier and happier lives. However, we have to make it appealing to more people. Together, let's make fitness something that is fun, that people want to do with their friends and that rewards them for the effort they put in so that it becomes part of their life forever. We have the answers and we know our sector can rise to the challenge.