Gyms are reopening in the UK as part of the next phase of the roadmap out of lockdown. A recent survey conducted by Savanta ComRes in association with Sport England revealed that gym workouts are at the top of the list of things people are most excited about doing in the coming weeks. The poll revealed that 14% of those surveyed miss the gym more than any other activity. Over 85% of existing gym members are planning to get back into training as soon as facilities reopen. In addition, 27% of participants who are not already members of a gym are planning to join.
These statistics show that there is an appetite to get back to the gym and embrace active lifestyles. In this guide, we’ll explore opportunities within the leisure industry and discuss how the sector will fare post-Covid and the role gym instructors will play in helping customers to return to the gym safely.
Leisure opportunities post-Covid-19
Gyms and leisure centres are reopening in the UK. Statistics suggest that many people are eager to either get back to training or take up sports in a bid to be more active. One of the key responsibilities for those working within the leisure industry is enabling people to exercise safely. Some people will be desperate to get back to the gym the moment the doors open again, but others may still be reluctant to go out of the house or to visit public places. There are opportunities to adopt new ways of working. New gym rules will also make people feel safe and provide a better experience for clients.
- Diversifying instructor roles and exercise types
The nature of sports and leisure jobs may change due to Covid-19. Social distancing is still in effect. This means that the focus may shift to individual and small group sessions, outdoor activities, virtual sessions and online exercise and training sessions that are adapted to cater to Covid-safe protocols.
- Capitalising on new attitudes to health and fitness
Adapting to new gym rules is one element to consider after reopening, but it’s also beneficial to think about how attitudes to sport and exercise have changed in the last 12 months. People are now more aware of the benefits of physical activity. They have also seen the impact of Covid-19 on people who have underlying health conditions, which increase the risk of severe complications.
The pandemic has been incredibly distressing and disruptive, but it has shone a spotlight on the importance of healthy lifestyles. A survey carried out by Nuffield Health revealed that over 75% of Brits have taken up a new type of physical activity in the last 12 months. The most popular activities included walking, jogging, cycling, yoga and HIIT home workouts.
Moving forward, there will be new opportunities for people who work in the leisure industry. These include connecting with new clients and educating and informing people about the advantages of being more active. In addition, they can tailor training programmes to provide safe workouts that are relevant to individual goals and requirements.
How will the leisure industry fare after the pandemic?
The pandemic has forced almost every industry to adapt and adjust. The sports and leisure sector has been affected by lockdowns and restrictions, but it is expected to bounce back. Many facilities are investing in technology and innovative solutions to enable safe exercise and build confidence and trust.
- Getting people back into the gym safely
Almost 90% of people who are already members of gyms are planning to get back into the gym after reopening. Many adults (27%) who aren’t currently members of fitness clubs or sports centres are looking forward to being more active.
- Adapting, catering to new trends and taking advantage of technology
The lockdown presented challenges for trainers, fitness instructors and gym owners, but many used it as an opportunity to diversify and embrace new methods of working out and promoting active lifestyles.
Technology has played a crucial role in helping instructors to stay connected with clients over the lockdown. Gyms are also utilising tech to enhance safety, improve hygiene and provide a more diverse range of activities and options for those who want to exercise safely. Providing safe settings is essential, but technology will also play a role. Tech can help instructors to engage with customers, provide reassurance and foster an emotional connection.
Limited capacities may continue to impact income, but instructors and gym owners are thinking on their feet. They can utilise different sites, virtual and outdoor classes and methods of training to find solutions and arguably, offer a better service for clients by providing more choices.
- Offering a destination
Home workouts have become more popular during the lockdowns, but for many, one of the primary benefits of going to the gym is visiting a destination that makes them feel happy and provides a change of scenery. With many people now working from home either full or part-time, there is likely to be a strong desire to get out of the house and go to the gym. For many people who enjoy exercise, as well as those who may be new to the idea of gym membership, the gym will provide a retreat or a sanctuary. Going to the gym will enable them to spend time outside of the same four walls and separate work and leisure.
- New members
The pandemic has encouraged more people to be more active, which is likely to increase the uptake of sports in the future. More people may be eager to join the gym due to changes in their attitude to fitness and health. It’s also possible that gyms will attract people who would have wanted to become members but didn’t have the time to do so. Working from home more frequently will provide many employees who would ordinarily spend a substantial amount of time commuting with the flexibility and time to go to the gym.
The role of the gym instructor
With gyms opening up after a prolonged period of closures and strict restrictions, the role of the gym instructor has never been more important. Gym instructors will play a critical role in facilitating the smooth running of facilities and overseeing a seamless transition to ‘normality.’
The gym as we know it might not be the same for a while, but instructors will be able to help people adjust to different ways of working out and new gym rules and hygiene measures. Communication will be key at a time when many will be coming back to the gym after a long period of time at home. It’s natural to have questions about how systems will work and what people have to do to work out safely. Instructors will have an important part to play. This will involve answering questions, providing information and making sure people feel comfortable when they do decide to return to the gym.
Keeping safe in the gym- how the instructor role fits in
One of the most important objectives for gym owners and fitness instructors will be to make sure people feel safe in the gym in the weeks ahead. Some customers may have been to the gym after the first or second lockdown and they might be aware of what to expect. Others won’t have been for months and some may never have been to a gym before. If you’re new to exercise, it’s understandable to ask questions like, ‘Is it safe to exercise in a gym?’ With headlines still dominated by Covid-19 and measures in place to minimise case numbers, people may have reservations. During the first few weeks and months, instructors will take on a number of key roles.
- Health and safety
With gyms reopening, the priority for instructors is health and safety. There are new gym rules to adhere to, restrictions will be in place to minimise social contact and enhanced hygiene protocols. Using a package of measures, instructors can ensure that customers are able to work out safely and that they understand what they can do to stay safe if they are going to the gym. This might include coming to the gym alone and booking a time slot, getting changed at home, using hand sanitiser and washing hands regularly. Users can also clean equipment after use and wear a face mask when entering and exiting through public spaces. Gyms can also enhance safety by opening the windows and providing ventilation.
- Safe exercise
Gym instructors have a responsibility to provide safe exercise sessions and training programmes and classes that take Covid-19 protocols and procedures into consideration.
- Communication and interaction
Gym instructors are not just there to coach, instruct and guide customers. They also have a critical role to play in communicating and engaging with clients in the weeks ahead. People are adjusting to a different environment when they go to the gym. Some might be nervous. Others may simply have questions about how the gym will work and what they need to do to adhere to guidelines and modified gym rules. By talking to clients, answering questions, providing information about safety and hygiene measures and being there as a point of contact, instructors can help people return to the gym and get fit with confidence.
Gyms opening in April will provide new leisure opportunities, including the possibility of expanding and diversifying services and using technology. This will create safer spaces to exercise and provide reassurance for customers and clients. As sports facilities reopen, fitness instructors have valuable roles to play. These include promoting safe exercise, helping people to adjust to new gym rules and providing Covid-friendly classes and sessions. Many people are looking forward to getting back to the gym and despite the challenges of the last 12 months, the future is looking brighter.