As we approach the end of 2020 – a type of year of which none of us saw coming – we’re continuing to learn and adapt to the challenges and opportunities before us, carving out a new roadmap for the fitness industry.
What’s been abundantly clear throughout the pandemic is that the government still hasn’t fully twigged that physical activity is the “magic pill” it’s been looking for. The simple solution to enhancing the physical and mental health/wellbeing of the nation – and helping to protect and defend people from lifestyle-related diseases and viral threats like COVID-19.
The fact that people were able to buy a Big Mac (no offence, McDonald’s) before they were able to lift a dumbbell, as lockdown measures were eased, is a case in point.
Although gyms have now reopened in England following Lockdown 2.0, the government guidelines state that, in tier 3 areas, group exercise classes (including fitness and dance) should not go ahead – unless they involve only people of the same household or bubble. This is a strange decision which completely misses the point.
I’d like to think that the government would have more sense than to be put off by the word “group” – and realise that group exercise doesn’t mean holding hands and jogging in a straight line.
But, in case clarification is needed, and for the benefit of Mr Johnson, it’s entirely possible to conduct group exercise in a safe and socially distanced environment.
In fact, you’re much more likely to catch COVID from a person in Tesco who’s leaning over you to grab a pint of milk than you are from someone doing exercise two-metres away from you at the gym – even with all the panting and sweating!
Not only can group ex be socially distanced for the safety of members/participants, but the evidence proves, overwhelmingly, that #gymsaresafe! Of the 65 million visits analysed by Europe Active, in conjunction with King Juan Carlos University and AWRC-Sheffield Hallam University, the average infection rate within fitness clubs and leisure facilities (including both members and staff) was shown to be just 0.78 per 100,000 visits.
Furthermore, data collected by ukactive from more than 1,900 sites across the UK and 45 million visits recorded an overall rate of 0.99 cases per 100,000 visits.
The wake of a group ex revolution
As the saying goes, “with every challenge comes opportunity”. In terms of group exercise, this is certainly the case for the commercial fitness sector. The pandemic has given rise to some revolutionary, new types of ‘COVID-safe’ small group training experiences – namely, FUSION Team Training, pioneered by Freemotion Fitness.
To borrow the words of Freemotion, as published by Health Club Management…
Set to take the fitness world by storm, FUSION combines power and metabolic training in a unique way that enables participants to build muscle and burn calories simultaneously. In just 45-minutes, a FUSION session delivers a challenging, engaging, total-body workout and by incorporating intermittent periods of recovery, participants achieve a continuous elevated heart rate.
Unlike traditional strength training that only builds muscle based on the load, FUSION workouts also utilise resistance, speed and functional movements from everyday life to develop a stronger, healthier and more agile body.
Participants train on their own piece of Fusion CST. They can control the intensity and modify the exercise based on their abilities and fitness levels for the ultimate user-defined workout. And because there is no need to share equipment or wipe down multiple stations, users have peace of mind about their workout environment – allowing them to concentrate on the session without compromising their personal space.
What’s more, FUSION Team training lowers the price point for people wanting a personalised training experience while enabling operators to charge more than group exercise classes. And instead of making money from a single client one-on-one, they can now do that with 6-12 people at a time.
The road to bouncing back…
Although Leisure-net’s Post-Lockdown Recovery survey, published in December, shows consumer confidence in returning to gyms is extremely high, with well over three quarters (76.34 per cent) saying they will return immediately when the doors to their health or fitness club reopen (if they haven’t already), the physical and mental hangover of the pandemic could mean the road to full recovery takes a little longer…
According to Steven Taylor, author of The Psychology of Pandemics, and professor in psychiatry at the University of British Columbia, quoted by the BBC, “For an unfortunate minority of people, perhaps 10 to 15%, life will not return to normal”, due to the impact of the pandemic on their mental wellbeing.
Similarly, leading public health specialists in the British Medical Journal have warned that “the mental health impact of the pandemic is likely to last much longer than the physical health impact”.
This means we, as a united industry, must do all we can, both now and in the years ahead, to ensure members and customers feel safe, comfortable and motivated to return to our facilities, join our classes and use our equipment.
Protecting and advancing group exercise – an operator’s golden tool
Group exercise appeals to health and time-conscious members and has always been a key profit and retention-driver for operators. To safeguard and grow group exercise in the post-COVID age – and to show the government just how powerful physical activity can be – we will need solutions like FUSION Team Training.
As Freemotion suggests, “This really is the ultimate piece of equipment in this new COVID-conscious world, but, just as importantly, it can deliver results for your members whilst generating income and boosting lifetime value.”
To learn more about FUSION Team Training, click here or email: firstname.lastname@example.org