Gyms Need To Re-open For Our Sanity AND Their Industry

 Box model flexes his muscles in black shorts

We can't weight for the gyms to re-open

 

I don’t know about you but things are getting decidedly podgey in all the wrong places. I tried to keep up my gym regime when the lockdown started. Exercising at home, running, lifting some weights, but I have to say it’s been about a month since I’ve done anything and I’m not happy about that.

 

There was uproar when the government declared that bars, pubs and restaurants could open on July 4th but still no news on gyms. Speaking to a manager of a famous gym chain who wished to remain anonymous, he says ‘We’re looking at mid to end of July when we can re-open but we’re waiting on the government advice. It’s going to be a whole new landscape after lockdown and some gyms aren’t going to survive’

 

Fitness explosion 

 

Gyms were a booming business before the pandemic with new ones popping up practically on a weekly basis. Whether it was a new branch of an existing chain, a franchise or an independent, there was money to be made. With such stiff competition and only a certain amount of people willing to join in any one catchment area, they were fighting for customers even before the lockdown.

 

Model flexes in gym selfie in white shorts blue v necl 

It's being written into law that you must take a gym selfie each session

 

‘The future is quite uncertain I won’t lie’ said the manager ‘Of course we paused people’s memberships but now the furlough scheme is coming to the end we might have to start making redundancies’

 

The problem is that with no gym, people started to make their own arrangements. Whether it was one of the numerous online classes that popped up, discovering running or simply cycling daily to the shops. ‘Some people will come to the conclusion that they don’t need the gym or that it’s an expense they can’t afford’

 

Werk from home 

 

If you were a regular goer who took muscle building seriously you can’t just go cold turkey. Sale of home gyms went through the roof unsurprisingly. ‘If you spent a lot of money on home equipment, that’s probably the money you’d spend on the gym so not only would you then not have the money pay your membership but also you’d have your own gym at home so why bother with the real thing?’

 

Box model in small black shorts holds medicine ball 

This guy's having a ball at his gym sesh 

 

In the past, gym equipment was often consigned to the garage when it stopped being used but during the lockdown it’s found a permanent place in the home. Do we think this will continue when the health clubs open back up? ‘Working out at home can be boring and lonely and people like to get out of the house, more so nowadays’

 

That’s where the motivation factor comes in. Just because you have gym equipment at home, doesn’t mean you use it. The act of getting yourself out the house to go to the gym is half the battle and means you’d do more for longer. Home has too many distractions, especially now so many of us work from home. I for one cannot wait to have a reason to go back there. Just the ceremony of putting your workout clothes on, getting your gym bag together, guzzling a protein shake or deciding what area you’re going to work on that day.

 

Coffee breaks

 

That’s without even scaling in the social factor. A lot of gyms are clubs too after all so while they may have been doing online classes, it’s the coffee and the banter afterwards that people miss. It’s the social interaction that people need simply for their mental wellbeing.

 

Two Box models pour water on themselves in gym 

These lads couldn't wait for the showers to cool off

 

With online classes I found that just watching them wasn’t enough, you really have to do the actual exercises. I read a few weeks ago about ‘naked gyms’ which frankly sound like a step backwards on the health and safety front. Machines would definitely need a good wipe down after usage and where would you put your phone?

 

One direction

 

Even when we’re allowed to go back, what’s a gym going to look like? Practically on a daily basis we see what different safety protocols are being suggested. Wiping down equipment after each go, limited numbers, queuing. One thing’s for sure, the sauna and steam room are going to be out of bounds for a while.

 

‘The gym will be implementing a one way system like most shops. We’re lucky it’s summer as we can do outdoor classes’ the manager said ‘But ultimately it’s going to look a lot different. Like every company we would love to go back to ‘business as usual’ but for now this is the way it has to be to keep people safe’

 

I for one can’t wait to get back there. My lockdown lard has taken on a mind of its own and the comfort eating cannot be helping matters. I never lived at the gym like some people so I know it will be harder for them, but for even a casual 2/3 times a week goer, I’m anxious to get my mojo back.  

 

Sam Dowler

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