INSPIRING ACTIVE LIVES

Should Gyms stay open during Lockdown?

empty gym during lockdown

Gyms are an essential part of an active lifestyle. Anybody you ask would more than likely agree. During a pandemic however, their necessity has become an incredibly divisive topic of discussion.

There’s no doubt public attendance should be kept minimal at this current moment in time. Staying at home however, has its exceptions, but should visiting your gym be one of them? 

There is a widespread belief that gyms are vital, now more than ever, as we all must take extra care of our health, mentally, as well as physically.

The law currently states otherwise.

Gyms have been operating without consent

As recently as last week, a gym in Hackney, London was penalised with a fine of £1000 for continuing to operate; amid claims from London Mayor, Sadiq Khan, that the virus spread is out of control and becoming a major incident that threatens to overwhelm London hospitals. 

The owners of A-Star Muscle and Fitness Gym in Wakefield, Yorkshire campaigned throughout 2020 to keep their gym open. After receiving a £10,000 fine for resuming business during the restrictions, they launched a petition for gyms to be classed as ‘essential businesses’ across all tiers, for which they gained over 600,000 signatures

"We presented to them all our facts and figures as to why gyms should be essential, they however cannot do the same as to why they shouldn't.”

Joe Davies, Co-Owner of A-Star Gym

The petition was discussed in parliament as a result, however, it was swiftly rejected. The Government responded with the following:

"Sports and physical activity facilities are crucial for adults and children to stay active. The Government’s phased approach is based on scientific and medical advice to protect public health."

UK Government, 20/10/20

A-Star has not been alone in their defiance of lockdown restrictions, as several gyms across the country have been publicly adamant in opposition to closing their facilities, despite risking a fine of up to £10,000.

A fitness studio owner in Bury claimed that due to her regular clientele, she had operated for 110 days without a single positive test for COVID-19.

Another gym owner, based in Bedfordshire, was quoted with the following:

“Gyms protect the NHS. We’re in a health pandemic, and I believe that during this time we should be doing everything we can to get people healthier and fitter.”

Alex Lowndes, Owner of Gainz Fitness & Strength

Why are gyms closed?

We can all understand why so many facilities are unavailable to the public, as we remain in lockdown until at least mid-February and potentially until May.

While infection rates continue to increase and are yet to plateau, it is unlikely we will see many of our leisure facilities reopen any time soon. 

All in all, gyms are public spaces where people gather indoors. Their is medical evidence to suggest that respiratory droplets alone are enough to contract the virus, which are much more likely to occur in indoor settings where people breathe heavily and potentially converse with eachother.

In a time where the government has declared it unsafe for many outdoor activities to take place, from team sports to sitting on a bench, it would be inconsistent with the guidance to encourage indoor activities.

busy indoor gym

Why do we need gyms reopened?

It would be easy to assume that we can all get along just fine without gyms and upkeep our physical activity at home. There are arguments to suggest, however, that this is not as simple as it sounds.

Winter Weather Conditions

Running, cycling or even a leisurely walk can make a huge difference to your fitness & well-being. But with ice, wind, rain, mud and low temperatures, it is not only demotivating for us to get outside and exercise, it can also be dangerous.

Equipment

Exercising at home can be just as good as a session in the gym, but without the space or equipment to perform your favourite exercises, this may not be physically or financially feasible. 

Mental Health

We’re confident that regular exercise will provide huge support for your mental health during these trying times, no matter the setting. However, being at home constantly is bound to take its toll, and a trip to the gym is not only about exercise; a change of scenery and a sense of normality is necessary at times.

Key Facts

It’s clear that there are pros & cons for both arguments.

Public safety is paramount, so staying at home as much as possible is undeniably important.

On the other hand, gyms provide respite from lockdown, and with the right precautions in place, they can be a safehaven for improving our health and bettering our chances of fighting Coronavirus, should we test positive for it. 

We want you to make up your own mind about the debate, so here are some key statistics for you to consider.

During the period between 25th July – 25th October 2020, UK Active has reported the following:

– An overall rate of just 1.41 cases per 100,000 visits to fitness facilities (55 million visits overall).

– A total of 781 COVID-19 cases from gym users, against a backdrop of 735,398 UK-wide cases.

“This data supports the case for gyms and leisure facilities to remain open in all tiers through January and February, kickstarting the New Year as a safe and essential service for the physical and mental health of our communities."

Huw Edwards, CEO of UK Active

On the contrary, UK Active also reported that the case rate in fitness and leisure facility users rose from 0.1 cases per 100,000 visits in the week commencing 27 July to 3.7 cases per 100,000 visits in the week commencing 19 October.

How can we help?

As much as we hope for gyms to reopen soon, we must encourage everybody to follow the current guidelines until further notice. 

In the meantime, we want to keep you and your little ones active however you can throughout the lockdown!

Keep up to date with our videos on social media, providing challenges that make exercise fun!

Here are the first 4 instalments:

Keep updated on our Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages!

For more help & advice, check out our blog to find out how exercise benefits children, physical solutions for their mental health, and ideas for social distancing games that they will love!

Any questions? Feel free to get in touch!