Press comment for The Evening Standard

Gyms comprise step three of the UK Government's COVID-19 recovery strategy

We were contacted by The Evening Standard who were writing an article on the measures UK gyms will be implementing to provide reassurance to their members, staff and the wider community when permission is given to reopen.

Our written response is below:

“Given that there is no existing playbook for operating through a pandemic, there is obvious caution around what a post-COVID-19 lockdown health club experience will look like.

Until a vaccine is available, gyms will be relying on four principal interventions – reconfiguring exercise environments, staff training, capacity restrictions and education. As some gyms now reopen in China, they are being ‘reconfigured’ by taking cardiovascular machines, such as treadmills out of use, closing down changing areas, while ramping up cleaning and hygiene measures. Additionally, membership levels inside the club are ‘restricted’, along with the time allocated to train.

PureGym in March was restricting attendance to 100 members in the entire club at any one time. Members could use the club app to monitor real-time attendance levels. This was well below normal operating levels and much stricter than other European countries are now proposing as they also plan to reopen.

Many UK gym operators will be planning to restrict group exercise classes to approximately 50% of normal capacity which can be enforced because people have to book to join a class. Ongoing education around social distancing and good hand hygiene can then be wrapped around the entire gym visit.

The bottom line is that the fitness industry exists to support the health of its members and no responsible health club business is going to reopen in a way that potentially causes harm. A CEO of a large gym chain commented recently that they would open, only when it is safe to do so and not a second before.”