It was a big shock to us in March when we had to close our doors and stop seeing people face to face after 10 years of being able to work closely with our clients each week.
After the blind panic of what this meant we had to quickly pivot and start working online with clients.
After a week or so of getting used to what the clients rooms lay out was, what equipment they had, and where to put the camera – we were up and running. Over the next six months we went on a remarkable journey where we were still seeing our clients achieve amazing results with their health and fitness (and some even better than they had been achieving before). By keeping the structure and accountability that is key to the program and sticking with our philosophy of progressive appropriate exercise they continued to get fitter and healthier and this led us to the realisation that being fit and healthy is not about gym’s and equipment.
It is about habits, movement and progressive exercise.
All of which can be achieved at home and or at a gym. The gym is a great place to get stronger and fitter, as it opens up some many different exercise options and modes of exercise but it is not essential to being fit and healthy.
The end of August hit and the majority of our clients were looking forward to getting back into the gym, lifting some heavier weights again and the change of scenery. Though some who had a pretty well equipped home gym decided they were going to stay at home as they enjoyed the ease of it literally being on their doorsteps and a few other with health conditions didn’t feel ready to come back to the gym yet.
As the gym reopened we were really looking forward to seeing everyone face to face and was fascinated to find out what impact six months of lockdown has had on the rest of the gym members and the industry as a whole.
Before returning we worked very hard to make sure people are confident, that the gyms are safe environments with strict cleaning regimes and booking systems in place.
We have had great feedback from our clients and the gym members to say they feel safe and that the changes are working well.
However I would say at both clubs there is a reduction in visits overall. Much of this might be down to the perception caused by the gyms being one of the last places to reopen following lockdown, which might lead people to think that it is not a safe environment for them. The good news is that gyms throughout the world have been open for a good few months and as I and many others in the industry predicted there has been little evidence of the virus spreading in the gyms despite millions of visits worldwide.
One study in England showed 22 million visits and only 19 related cases.
Now moving onto what I have seen with clients and members. As I wrote at the start of lockdown, the changes inflicted on many people’s lives during lockdown could potentially be a perfect storm for weight gain; less movement due to working from home, stress of living through a pandemic, work spaces right next to the kitchen, gyms/health clubs and sports being closed could all be major contributors to weight gain.
Some people have gained weight to varying degrees, possibly feeling the pressure of the situation. Those who haven’t gained weight have managed something that most of us couldn’t, so well done to them!
On a more positive note many people have picked up some really healthy habits over lockdown such as increasing their walking levels, taking up running or cycling – all of which will have a huge benefit to their cardiovascular fitness and mental health, and can also help with weight maintenance.
Another positive I have observed through the pandemic is the increased exposure in the media to the benefits of exercise for our mental health.
It feels like this is a fact widely accepted by everyone now and many people are no longer just paying lip service to it. It seems like lots of people are now fully buying into the fact that they need to keep moving to stay in a good place mentally. Going into what looks like a pretty bleak winter ahead, I believe exercise will be as important as it ever has been for helping people with their mental health.
As was to be expected the lack of accessibility to gym and weights in general has led to a reduction in strength for those who were used to regular resistance training. Also, many of those who have adopted running/cycling have realised that to get the full package they will need to get some type of strength training into their regime, so it’s great to see people turning their attention to a good structured strength training program (especially those in their 50’s and beyond).
Time spent sitting at workspaces at homes has led to a lot of people telling us they feel stiffer and have more aches and pains. So now more than ever we recommend that you incorporate some mobility exercises into your workouts and maybe set aside a bit of time each week to work solely on mobility. (which led us to give our clients a 30 minute mobility class they can now do on their own at home)
When it comes to the fitness industry as a whole it seems like the bigger gyms may be suffering the most as people might be a bit apprehensive of working out in a space with so many others in it , even if social distancing measures have been put in place. There may also be concerns that members in the bigger gyms may not fully adhere to the guidelines just by law of averages, which could ultimately increase risk. Also, the greatly reduced class sizes mean getting booked in for classes can be a problem for those that like to utilise the class part of their membership. So I think smaller, more bespoke gyms and studios may benefit in the long run from this.
Whatever your experience of the last 12 months, I hope that people now value their health and fitness more than ever and perhaps realise that getting healthy could actually save their life and put them in a much stronger position to cope mentally with whatever the world has to throw at them.
Now with Lockdown 2 for three weeks it is back online again (with some outdoor sessions).
This time the percentage of clients sticking with the weekly sessions is higher than the first time around. I think this may be due to a few reasons; It could be the fact they are looking at the horrible weather and they know they are not going to be as active as they were the first time on their own, it might be the fact it is only three weeks (hopefully!!) and it could be that they are now used to doing so much of their life online now.
No matter what 2021 has to throw at us we are more confident than ever that we have a fitness program that is there to help people get fitter and stronger and we have a great community at both clubs who are in this for the long haul together