WHEN WILL GYMS BE REOPENING? 25th July Gymdependence Day, the comeback of Gyms

The golden question now has a date and even a name! Find here my thoughts on it and some useful information for the big gymdependence day aka the day the gyms will be reopening.

I’ve been in and been around gyms for virtually all of my professional life, from being a Personal Trainer to a Club Manager to supplying equipment and training solutions to clubs all over the world.  Like everyone else, I never even considered the day would come when fitness facilities would be totally shut down and the knock on effect for businesses, suppliers and members has been enormous.  Thankfully this is now coming to an end and clubs are reopening in England and hopefully following shortly Scotland too. The London crowds cannot wait for the gyms to reopen. However, there is no doubt that at least for the foreseeable future, attending a gym will be very different.

Let's go back to why gyms even exist, as I think at times this is forgotten.  I used to work for Precor and part of their ‘creed’ sums this up very well, it talks about fitness being the key to living the lives we desire and how a healthy lifestyle gives you the ability to live a life without limits.

To me, this is why gyms exist.  Some people have specific goals around being stronger or faster or losing weight of course (which gets way too much focus), but ultimately being in good physical condition enables us to live better and more fulfilling lives.  This is why i absolutely believe that anyone that is physically able, should be active every day.  Not because anyone tells them to, but because the benefits are huge.

There is little doubt that once clubs are able to re-open, the damage will have already been done for many owners.  Doors will close, memberships cancelled, jobs lost and many good people who just wanted to help people to live healthy and active lives, will have to pick up the pieces.

But I am an optimist.  

What could the future look like.  Firstly, I feel that this Pandemic will finally make people realise that if they do not look after their own health and wellness, they are at far more risk to a long list of conditions and of course a global Pandemic.  I feel that this will lead to a huge increase in people consuming fitness in one way or another, which is a huge positive.  The question is HOW will that fitness be consumed.  This again is something that will be transformed by the Pandemic, but it comes with massive opportunities.  I have long believed that the industry needs to do a much better job of meeting consumers where they are to make it much easier for people to fit exercise into their busy lives.  Most people do find it a challenge to get to the gym 3+ times a week, and I’m one of them.

For too long operators have been scared maybe or not prioritised enough online and home fitness for fear that it will make their bricks and mortar offering extinct (Peloton is an example of an exception). 

However, I’ve been really impressed with how many operators have reacted in the most challenging of times.  Many have jumped online, offered free content with their best instructors and looked to expand their audience, with significant cost at a time when their businesses are closed.  The result is an interesting mix.  Consumers now have the ability to take a peek at fitness brands by assessing and comparing the quality of their online offerings and the quality of their instructors. They can do Third Space one day, Gymbox the next and wake up to a run with David Lloyd.

Consumers are no longer limited to ‘the local gym’ and operators audiences are now (potentially) global. 

But the immediate future for clubs is challenging.  Gym reopening dates are finally confirmed but the much talked about ‘member experience’ will be tough to re-create.  Some members will come back no matter what, some will kick the can down the road and wait, and some may never return.  But I do think there will be a new wave of people looking to join and a huge amount of people who have realised that training from home or wherever they are, with the right programming and minimal equipment, is all they need to attain their goals (and push them further) while giving them valuable time back to spend with loved ones.  

Like many, the fitness space has been dealt a massive blow, but I believe that what emerges will be a more exciting and creative one for consumers and businesses alike.

Here's What You Need to Know, as a gym member. Following Recent Government Advice

  • Indoor gyms, sports facilities and pools will reopen from the 25th of July
  • Oliver Dowden,  Culture Secretary, the population to get "match-fit" to reduce the risk to public health
  • According to inside sources, Prime Minister Boris Johnson is said to be "satisfied" that it's now safe to re-open gyms in England
  • Reopening gyms is possible IF "extensive restrictions" are put in place, similar to pubs, barbers and shops, according to reports
  • "absolutely our aspiration" for gyms to re-open from mid-July says, Business Secretary Alok Sharma 
  • UKactive provided a roadmap to government which was 'enthusiastically received' 
  • New safety measures could included a limited capacity, 2m between equipment and temperature checks at the door (see below guidance for operators)
  • 87% of gym-goers are likely to resume their membership once gyms and health facilities reopen, after closing down on March. As per recent survey
  • Puregym reopening plans for example, includes prohibiting ‘pair-training’ or ‘spotting’, pre-booking allotted times to workout and capping the number of people in the gym and those permitted in its classes
  • All gyms will have on their website full information on how to use their facilities. Make sure you get familiar with them to avoid disappointment but most importantly to remain safe...for you and others.

Here's What You Need to Know, as a gym owner and operator. Following Recent Government Advice

Working with multiple partners and government ukactive have issued the following framework document to support the fitness industry sector in reopening facilities. Here you can read the General guideline but head here to download the full document from UKActive

  • Public Health England (PHE) or equivalent posters will be on display informing customers and staff of social distancing and cleanliness/hygiene protocols throughout the facility.
  • Operators will commit to the wellbeing of their staff and customers, and if they show/have any signs of COVID-19 (temperature, cough and difficulty breathing), they will be sent home to follow Government regulations. • Operators will comply with any health designation documentation that the Government implements.
  • Hand wipes/sanitisers will be on offer (or people will be directed to where they can clean their hands).
  • Operators will ensure that social distancing is adhered to, further criteria is below for certain areas.
  • Face masks will not be mandatory for staff, unless their role requires this.
  • It is down to the individual customer to take reasonable personal responsibility when taking part in physical activity.
  • Operators to maintain a commitment to the Equality Act 2010 and legal obligations to ensure that the decisions made in response to Coronavirus (COVID-19) do not discriminate against customers or staff with protected characteristics.
  • Operators should employ one way people flow systems to reduce congregation in any area of the facility where possible.
  • Operators who are allowing non-members in, must have a process in place to retain contact details for 21 days (in-line with GDPR legislation).
  • Markings should be put round machines or workout benches to denote social distance areas where appropriate.

CIMSPA also has a great amount of resources available which we would highly recommend you checking them out if you are a gym owner and are preparing for reopening. The links on their page have been developed by them and a number of sector partners. They should be used in conjunction with the ukactive recommended framework for reopening the fitness and leisure sector safely.

GO HERE: ReOpen: Sport and physical activity sector facility reopening guidance

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