After hearing the announcement that gyms will close from this Wednesday at midnight for at least 4 weeks, we decided to send a detailed email to our local MP Chloe Smith and speak to the EDP.
Parliament are holding a vote tomorrow on the lockdown measures and we are hoping that gyms are not simply categorised with pubs, bars and restaurants as they are very different types of business.
Here is a short video of UKActive speaking on the BBC on why gyms should be classed as an essential business during a lockdown.
Below is a copy of the letter we sent to Chloe along with her response
I am sure you are inundated with messages right now, but I am contacting to you today with a polite request to review the closure of gyms based on the new lockdown restrictions. I am aware a debate/vote will be taking place in Parliament on Wednesday to finalise agreements that come into place on Thursday 5th November, however i’m kindly asking that you review and present the argument against this closure of gyms, based on the information below.
Gyms are safe
UKActive state that gym and leisure facilities in the UK have seen 22 million visits since reopening, with no spike in infections and just 78 confirmed cases! The number of cases per 100,00 remains at just 0.34 showing protocols and methods carried out inside gyms have been incredibly successful and a minimal risk.
As the data shows, gyms are proven to not be contributing to an increase in the rate of infection, which is likely due to the demographic and attitudes of members and thorough safety measures in a health conscious environment.
Recent data from over 1,900 facilities between the 5th-11th of October saw just 156 positive cases out of 5 million visits and even then the chances of transmission within gyms is incredibly low due to rigorous cleaning procedures.
These findings were also backed from a study by safeACTIVE. Their analysis from data concluded that of the 66 million visits to fitness clubs and leisure facilities, 487 cases were found positive, resulting in a 0.000007% infection rate. And some of these may be “false positives” therefore lowering this number.
Furthermore, a Norwegian randomised study of 3764 individuals that were regularly using the reopened gyms and leisure facilities, investigated the potential transmission rate of COVID-19. They found no increased spread of the virus!
Data published shows clearly that the area with the highest transmission rate is Education (32%) yet gyms are now are forced to close instead, which makes no sense considering the reasoning given during the presentation on Saturday.
How Gyms are Safe
Gyms already have the perfect track and trace system in place, very thorough cleaning procedures that are far superior to supermarkets or offices. Social distancing is achieved by equipment placement and safety screens, air flow and extraction are typically to a high standard, a gym is the last place people go when they are not feeling well and as mentioned, gym member demographics mean that members are typically more health conscious than other higher risk businesses, such as pubs, restaurants and bars.
Gym members are also used to following gym rules within this environment and a lot of clubs know people by name, so as a result, the “bye in” from members adherence is usually very good.
We personally also provide every member with their own spray bottle and cloth to carry around with them whilst training to then clean all the machines and surfaces they use, as well as having 14 sanitise stations with blue roll, cleaning bottles and sanitise spray conveniently around the gym floor. We know of a lot of other gyms that provide this also around the country.
All equipment and touch points are cleaned multiple times throughout the day, we recently installed powerful commercial extraction, a speed gate to monitor numbers, safer changing facilities, touch-less door opening and a touch-less drinks machine, we have gone cashless to prevent manual transmission, bought a vending machine to prevent handling products, moved onto fully online sales, took out walls and sold equipment to ensure adequate social distancing and installed multiple screens where two metres could not be achieved.
We have spent our bounce back loan not just surviving the last lockdown but making our business completely COVID-19 compliant, so you can understand how frustrating having to close again is for us when we know we are safe and that a lot of our members rely on their regular workouts for their mental health, to stay sane as well as fit and healthy.
How Gyms Benefit the NHS
The immune system relies on physical exercise and during these times, this is paramount. Obesity is the biggest comorbidity when it comes to COVID-19 and with likely extended and repeated shutdowns, the UK’s obesity rate will only go up over time increasing health risks further and as a result higher deaths from Covid-19, which makes no rational sense.
A national government strategy of closing gyms, subsidising and promoting fast food, restricting activity and social contact is likely to lead to losing more lives unnecessarily, based on data from the previous lockdown. Surely we should be encouraging physical exercise? Closing gyms goes against the science in every way possible.
Gyms help to ease the burden on the NHS, by helping get people fitter and therefore healthier, as well as less reliant on mental health care. The NHS website states that exercise is the miracle cure we’ve all been waiting for. It can reduce the risk of major illnesses such as heart disease by up to 35%, type 2 diabetes by 50% (another massive comorbidity for COVID), colon cancer by 50% and depression by up to 30%.
This leads us onto the increase in hospital admissions from attempted suicides which has increased dramatically also.
Gyms and Mental Health
Lets begin by referring to recent publications by The Lancet Psychiatry in which the levels of mental distress rose from 18.9% to 27.3% in April of 2020. This was one of the first studies to identify trends in mental health pre and post national lockdown.
On top of this, emerging evidence on both the social and economic impacts of COVID-19 shows that young people between the ages of 12-24 are one of the worst effected groups.
As mentioned suicides are up considerably, especially in men. The London Ambulance Service revealed it is attending an average of 37 suicides a day, up from 22 in 2019. Gyms are so much more than places for exercising; they are safe havens for people to escape.
I am not aware of any studies, but experience shows that domestic issues are likely agitated by a lack of suitable exercise. People who regularly exercise get their endorphin fix multiple times a week and by closing gyms these people will suffer a withdrawal again that can lead to problems in the home with partners and children as well as in the workplace.
Most people are aware of the links associated with exercise and depression. The weak argument may be presented that exercise doesn’t require gyms, however, as we enter the winter months, the level of those partaking in physical exercise outside will greatly decline, especially the elder populations.
People simply will not be going outside biking and running in cold, wet or icy weather. This is proven every year.
Resistance training can not be performed outside or at home without the necessary equipment, so even those people who can motivate themselves to go outside in the cold and wet will still therefore not be getting the necessary release of endorphins or psychological benefits.
Resistance training, due to its larger and very different hormonal stimulus, will provide by far greater reductions in depression and improvements in self esteem, confidence and a sense of wellbeing.
As we can see, gyms and leisure facilities provide not only physical, psychological and emotional benefits, but also contribute massively to our economy.
The UK leisure industry generates £200 billion of revenue a year along with 2.6 million jobs therefore if multiple gyms close down then this will further harm the economy.
I understand you are incredibly busy, but if you are able to put this feedback forward we would greatly appreciate it.
If you would like to discuss any of the points raised in further detail, or visit our club then please don’t hesitate to contact me. I very much look forward to your response if possible, thank you for your time Chloe.
Hopefully this information clearly shows that if the governments strategy to save lives and livelihoods as well as protect the NHS then keeping gyms open makes perfect sense to achieve all these goals without compromising the rate of infection.
Mark, Karl, Lorna, Shaun – Of Phoenix Gym Norwich LTD
We received a prompt response from Chloe that assured us that she understood the reasoning on the email and that she has put forward similar points to west minister.
Chloe doesn’t know if parliament will be specifically looking at how gyms are different to other businesses like pubs, bars and restaurants but other sources have said that this is the case, so we will find out tomorrow.
All memberships will be automatically frozen Wednesday 4th at 10pm and re-started upon reopening.
Some members have kindly offered to support us by keeping their memberships going through the lockdown.
For doing so, we will credit your account with the value of your membership to put towards Personal Training Sessions, Free Friend Guest Passes or FIT3D Body Scans.
Just message us to say that you would like to support us and your membership will run as normal.
We appreciate you all and hopefully gyms will be added to the essential list very soon.
Mark, Karl, Lorna and Shaun 👍💪🏋️♀️✌️