With radical changes to how gyms and classes can operate during the current cycle of Covid19 easing, gyms are having to implement new guidelines including reduced capacity, temperature checks, and more stringent cleaning regimes.
Following our post on how Covid19 changed the fitness industry we look forward to more gyms reopening.
Gyms Are Now Open
Like a child at Christmas, most avid gym goers can’t wait to kick start their post lockdown workouts. But things will look quite different to how gyms looked and worked pre-lockdown. The Government’s guidelines allowed indoor facilities to reopen on July 25 with a number of restrictions meant to reduce crowding and the spread of Covid-19. The general ruling that gyms include; requiring members to book space in classes and reducing opening hours to allow for deep cleaning.
Many gyms are having to adapt to the guidelines and prove to their members that it is safe to return to training at their sites. At Life Insurance Cover we took a deeper look at how this has impacted two neighbouring counties Cambridgeshire and Norfolk.
What To Expect
Some gyms will be placing tape on the floor for social distancing. Also having machines separated by protective screens. While these are great ideas for social distancing and reducing the spread of germs, some of the new regulations might be a bit hard to enforce. People who attend gyms regularly are accustomed to certain sounds including load music and raised voices of motivation. The following new guideline might be hard to enforce or discourage:
“All venues should ensure that steps are taken to avoid people needing to unduly raise their voices to each other. This includes – but is not limited to – refraining from playing music or broadcasts that may encourage shouting, including if played at a volume that makes normal conversation difficult. This is because of the potential for increased risk of transmission – particularly from aerosol and droplet transmission.”
Many gyms have been keeping members updated through Facebook and Twitter, including the recent update on re-opening. Customers have voiced a few concerns about safety and overcrowding, among other concerns about reduced hours and limited capacity.
Cancellations & Gym Closures
The Pandemic has caused a perfect storm for gyms. With reduced income from members and inability to pay staff causing a financial nightmare. Larger chains like 24 Hour Fitness and Gold’s Gym have declared bankruptcy.
Gyms had been pro-active in the early stages of the pandemic by freezing memberships. But as gyms begin to open in the coming weeks and months, many are expecting to see membership cancellations this week as they’re unable to provide a lot of their services prior to lock-down.
Gym owners and trainers are hoping that a resurgence on demand will be similar to new memberships in January. We asked our visitors to Life Insurance Cover’s website in June if they would return to the gym. We found 83% of visitors would resume memberships when gyms reopened, and 31% planned to join gyms for the first time.
Training At Home
Many people looking to keep fit during the lockdown, regardless of location have purchased expensive home gym, dumbbells either directly from manufactures or Ebay, including doing live work out classes provided through Facebook or Youtube. In the initial days of the pandemic, many fitness brands pivoted to offering digital classes and remote community engagement, finally realising a long-predicted migration to digital. This has been a time for change for the industry and allowing direct interaction with trainers, with tips and a new motivation to train.
Although many gym goers will be looking forward to a return to physical gyms, it is quite clear that the virtual gym classes will only increase over time. This will help smaller local gyms who do not have a wide customer base provide a new financial avenue to a brand that could struggle to keep their doors open to the public.
Speaking With Personal Trainers
At Life Insurance Cover we spoke with three specialist personal trainers about the impact of Covid19 and how they have adapted to help their customers.
Sarah Melton, a freelance Personal Trainer and qualified Run Leader. Working out of Heroes in King’s Lynn, Norfolk, has kept her clients up to date of the changes as they were announced and what she would be doing to ease any anxieties they may face.
Sarah goes onto to confirm ‘As soon as the briefing started, my phone started ringing and text messages streamed through with clients saying they wanted to come back! After looking through the guidelines I emailed all of my guys detailing how I would be taking responsibility for cleanliness of both us and the equipment. Hand sanitiser, cleaning spray and two cloths for each client are part of what I’m implementing as this new regime starts.’
New Runners- Post Lockdown
‘Out of all of my clients I’d say 99% of them are keen to come back and happy to continue with their training. Not only that but I’ve seen a massive influx of new runners use their time during lockdown to start on the Couch to 5K plan, along with people embracing their home workouts with whatever they could get their hands on. I really hope they keep up this newfound enthusiasm for a healthier way of life, especially in this current state where obesity has been sited as an additional risk factor to COVID.’
Adam from APT, had spoken with Life Insurance Cover previously about Covid19 changing the fitness industry.
He has noticed a steady upturn in the new members following his Youtube and Instagram channels for fitness programmes.
Adam goes onto explain ‘Most of the customers who trained with Zoe, Dan and myself online during the lockdown have stayed with us. A few members had comments about gyms re-opening. Including the reduction of equipment due to social distancing.’
‘With the new guidelines for gyms and spacing required for social distancing. We have noticed most of our customers prefer our boot camp classes outside with better distancing.’
The Future Of Gyms
‘Looking into the future of the fitness industry. I can see all mainstream gyms having to be a lot more customer focused. The pandemic has caused the general public to change their view on gyms. No longer are they just for socialising. Gyms need to provide a fitness service which is safe,clean and cost effective.’ Adam commented.
Carl from Acktivate Fitness has been keeping himself busy during the pandemic. Not only has he been providing one to one training with the correct social distancing, he also took the time to volunteer with the local council. To provide food boxes for the people who are shielding.
Positive News For Fitness
Carl has spoken at great lengths prior to the pandemic about the importance of keeping the mind and body fit and healthy.
Recently this view has been reinforced as Carl advises. ‘Since the beginning of lock down I have maintained contact with my customers. Ensuring that they are looking after themselves both Covid19 related as well as their physical and mental health.’
‘Since the announcement of gyms re-opening I have been swamped with requests from new people wishing to improve their fitness. Which is fantastic news that more people want to live fit and healthy lives.’
Carl also spoke about being patient with gym re-opening by saying. ‘Although the enthusiasm levels are very high at the moment. These expectations need to managed to ensure the safety of gym goers.’
The Digital Culture Media and Sport committee have been made aware that. Half of public leisure facilities in the UK would close by 2021 if they didn’t receive financial support. Financial strain for customers who may cancel or downsize memberships if the economy remains slow, could exacerbate problems.
Funding needed for Gyms
Gyms require further funding, similar to the hospitality sector as they are enabling the general public to become more physically active. A positive impact caused by the pandemic has been a fundamental change to every aspect of the fitness industry. With new fitness incentives being created by the Government to battle obesity, which will drive new people to try out gyms. This will depend on how well gyms adapt to the new guidelines and how to keep membership numbers up.