Amazingly we are now into our 11th week of delivering in-person sessions again with our clients since reopening and I have been fascinated to find out what impact 8 months of lockdown has had on our clients and the industry as a whole.

First off since returning we have 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. But 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; and 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 …and what’s your secret?

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.

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 8 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.

Who knows what is around the corner for us all, however I sincerely hope whatever it is we all manage to continue to take care of our health and one another.