Slowly the UK has been returning to “normal” with the easing of lock down, albeit certainly a new normal. In a couple of days gyms will be reopening their doors, but how many people will be waiting to enter?
We have discussed how the coronavirus has impacted our fitness regimes in a previous blog, and the future of gyms is still as uncertain. Of the 7,000 gyms in the UK, each will have been affected differently and each will see varying levels of clients return. People have been hit hard financially by the virus, particularly 20-40-year olds, with employment figures sky rocketing and only set to increase when the furlough scheme ends. Although gym chains immediately froze client’s direct debit payments when lockdown began, there have also been huge numbers of cancellations from individuals – it is estimated the industry has already lost up to 23% of members. A vast number of people are now working from home which changes their whole daily routine and the gym is no longer an easy pitstop on the way home. Even if you may be desperate to get back into the gym and be surrounded by your fitness family, who knows if your beloved gym has made it through this period. Thousands of gyms and leisure centres have been forced to close their doors permanently due to the return of unmanageable rent payments. For gyms that are teetering on the edge of closure, how will they convince clients to renew a 12-month membership?
However, there is some light at the end of this long and dark tunnel. We can look to Switzerland who have seen 70% to 90% return rates – gym users have been keen to break out of the house and return to their gyms. We are also now in the second half of the year; the nights will be drawing in and, before we know it, we will be powering through a cold and dark British winter. This is guaranteed to lower the attractiveness of outdoor exercise for many and an indoor gym environment will become appealing. Until gyms reopen on the 25th July, we just can’t be sure what will happen, and if a dreaded second wave hits and leads to localised or even another national lockdown then the future of gyms looks even more troubling.
For now, we will endeavour to remain positive and hope people who are able to, continue to support their local gym. What is certain going forward, is that the gym experience will be vastly different to pre corona (remember how easy life was then?!). Despite the government’s recent policy on the wearing of facemasks in enclosed public spaces, gym users will not be required to wear one – so you can close that DIY facemask tutorial on YouTube, step away from the scissors and pair of tights. In fact, the World Health Organisation has advised that sweat accumulating on masks may promote the growth of harmful microorganisms. Instead the focus will be on social distancing and strict hygiene measures.
Below is a snapshot of some measures that the larger gym chains will be putting in place –
- Clients will need to book specific time slots for training with gym staff controlling the flow of people inside the premises – some gyms may have half the number of people in than they would normally in order for social distancing to be maintained
- Staff will be carrying out regular and thorough cleaning throughout the day with disinfectant wipes available for users to wipe down equipment after use
- A reduced number of classes to allow time for cleaning along with reduced numbers at classes
- Rearranged and fewer machines available in order to maintain social distancing with floor markers visible to guide individuals around the gym
- Hand sanitiser dispensers will be available upon entry and exit – contactless entry where possible with users given QR codes via apps to reduce contact
- Thermal imaging camera technology will be used in some clubs to ensure that people with symptoms of coronavirus are not entering the club
And finally, our favourite rumoured rule is that high fives are officially banned, that’s right people get used to the air high five.
Here at Cardiokit we continue to wish everyone the best through this difficult time, we are continuing to operate in a safe way and are happy to help with any equipment needs.