If you haven’t been living in a hole for the past couple of days, you will have undoubtedly heard the news of what is being portrayed as “the biggest step forward in the return of normality”. On Monday, Boris announced the grand re-opening of the hospitality sector and other businesses on 4th July that have been closed for the past 3 months due to Covid.
However, contrary to the widespread expectations, the health and fitness industry failed to make the cut. This means that, at the time of writing this article, the long-awaited opening of gyms and leisure facilities has been put ‘on ice’ until further notice…
I have therefore felt the need to write my verdict on this questionable decision, and shed light on how to use this disappointing news in a positive manner.
The Height Of Hypocrisy
You can probably get the gist of my views by the tone of the subheading, but I am very keen to keep the b*tching to an absolute minimum.
Since the start of the pandemic, our government has constantly emphasised the incredible benefits of exercise, usually concerning immune function and mental health.Yet now, in spite of the stringent and comprehensive health and safety measures taken by facilities across the country, apparently gyms are deemed ‘higher risk’ than the local boozer; and thus remain closed.
I don’t know about you, but to me this seems utterly contradictory and completely senseless; the idea that, in a time where health and well-being is of utmost importance, the government seemingly value a pint of later over the health of the nation.
Couple this with comparing the two different environments (pubs vs gyms), and the decision seems all the more ridiculous. On the one hand you have a sanitary, socially-distanced environment where are people are largely conscious of their own health and contact track-and-trace may be done with ease in the event of a localised outbreak (check out PureGym’s latest release regarding health and safety below).
On the other, regardless of procedures they may plan to implement, you have an environment that, by its very nature, sh*ts on social distancing. One where, regardless of the efforts from landlords and employees, people may be less inclined to act responsibly due to the influence of alcohol.
Don’t misunderstand me; for I am so pleased for my Locals opening up after so long. I merely want to express the clear fact that opening pubs before gyms during a global health crisis seems, to me, entirely hypocritical.
Sorry, peeps; rant over…
“Follow The Science”
If you are in any doubt about the safety of coming back into your gym (which, I should say, is wholly understandable), then signficant findings of a recent study in Norway may put your mind at ease.
The study took approximately 4,000 people with no Covid symptoms, split them in half, and gave one half full access to 5 training facilities whilst the rest of the country remained under full lockdown.
The group who had access to these gyms had to comply with virus prevention guidelines outlined by the Norwegian Institute of Public Health (social distancing, hand hygiene, sanitised surfaces etc.). The measures taken in the facilities used in the study are pretty much concurrent to those planned to be implemented by PureGym and many other places in the UK.
The results of the study suggested that the opening of gyms, in the presence of appropriate preventative measures, had no impact on the transmission and spread of coronavirus:
Our trial sought to test if the closure of gyms is needed, or if open facilities can provide enough hygiene and social distancing to prevent virus spread. If hygiene and distancing measures could be achieved, we assumed it would be safe to open gyms and training facilities.Michael Bretthauer, University of Oslo
As our results show, there was no increase in COVID-related disease due to the opening of gyms and training facilities.
The Return is On The Horizon
Despite the disappointing news, inside-government sources have hinted at the potential re-opening of the industry in mid-July. The Government’s Culture Minister, Oliver Dowden MP, tweeted the following shortly after Boris’ announcement that gyms were to remain closed:
Subject to public health, our aspiration is to reopen gyms and leisure facilities in mid-JulyOliver Dowden
This promising statement from an official government figure is definitely cause for hope.
Although, at face value, we in the fitness industry have been shocked and disappointed by the continued closure of gyms, it seems like the big date is closer than we think.
Pair this with the high-profile challenges to the Government’s decision from prominent figures, such as Humphrey Cobbold, Adam Peaty, and Tanni Grey-Thompson, and the future of fitness in the UK is looking all the more promising.
Have faith, people; for evidence suggests that all is not lost. Have faith..
No Need to Put the Gains on Ice, Too!
Have you found yourself saying “It’s okay, I’ll just wait till gyms are open again…” ? If so, you could be missing a trick…
Loads of people have been banking on the gyms reopening to kick their a** into gear with whatever goal they have on the fitness front, be it fat loss, muscle gain, or general health. However, the unpredictable nature of our current situation means you could potentially be waiting a while. Why not get ahead of the game, and get yourself into fighting form before returning to the weights room?
If you haven’t already got on the home workout bandwagon, there’s no time like the present. With a whole world of minimal equipment workouts out there, catering for a vast array of individual goals, you can whip yourself up into good shape so you are able to really crank it up once the doors do open.
Check out one of my own workouts below to toast your entire body using just a loaded rucksack!
The Final Word
I would be lying if I said I wasn’t disappointed in the stance taken by Government with regards to reopening gyms. However, the growing body of scientific evidence pointing towards gym-based activities being relatively Covid-secure, I am most definitely optimistic about the timescale we are dealing with before opening.
Furthermore, although the gyms may have been pout ‘on ice’, try not to use it as an excuse to defer your fitness routine any further than needs be. Whether it’s working on your mobility to eventually improve the quality of your squats in the rack, to developing a base level of cardiovascular fitness (i.e. running, cycling etc.) to enhance your recovery from resistance-based sessions, now is the perfect time to get yourself ‘gym-ready’.
If you need any help cracking on with a home fitness and nutrition programme to get you ready for reopening, please don’t hesitate in dropping me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org