As you’re no doubt already aware, Our Prime minister introduced an increase on tier restrictions in an attempt to suppress the spread of COVID-19.
These restrictions come into play from December 2nd/3rd and were essentially what we were expecting, tougher guidelines for gyms.
After this announcement that gyms could open with specific tiers, I must admit i was expecting a little bit more leniency as our sector prides itself on how few cases have been traced back to gyms; 0.34 cases per 100,000 visits in gyms across England last month as an example of how safe gyms have proven to be.
Alas, another curveball got launched in our direction and now we have to make a few tweaks.
What was said and how I’m interpreting it
At this stage, all that has been said is:
“No indoor group exercise”, “gyms can remain open”, and “individual exercise is okay.” (mostly tier 3)
As with most of the guidelines and restrictions, there is no way the government has the time or resources to deep dive into each niche of each sector and therefore has to make blanket policies to cover all bases.
For me, there is a grey area and a bit of room for interpretation on what group exercise actually is.
Since moving from predominantly 1-to-1 personal training to small group personal training many a moon ago, our aim has always been to keep your training sessions as personal as possible.
We do not take a one-size-fits-all approach and we aim to meet everyone where they are on the day in terms of strength, fitness levels, energy, and mood.
With that approach, we usually have every individual doing a different variation of an exercise; i.e. one person pressing a 20kg Olympic bar over their head, another pressing 40kg, another pressing dumbbells, and someone else pressing using a landmine attachment because they’ve got a niggly shoulder. (you know who you are…)
The coach is there to guide everyone through the session but we aim to move you to a place of autonomy where you can make your own decisions regarding what exercise variation would suit you best, what weight is most appropriate, and how many reps you feel like you can do at the time.
There is a very blurry line here between what we o being deemed as small group personal training led by a coach and individual training supervised by a member of staff.
We have always used the former to describe what we do but I feel we can just as easily, and justifiably, also use the latter.
Since we reopened, I believe – and I hope you agree – we have gone above and beyond in the preventative steps we have taken and the measures we have put in place to mitigate your exposure to COVID-19 in the gym.
One of those measures is ensuring you’re working out in your own space, with your own equipment before wiping it down with antibacterial wipes/spray and moving on to the next part of the workout – potentially in another space with other equipment that has been wiped down by the last person who used it.
If you were training on your own in a commercial gym, you would do exactly the same thing…but I would bet you would not have as much confidence that the equipment you were moving onto for the next part of your workout was cleaned to the level we ensure it is at SC Vital Fitness.
For this reason, and after discussing the situation with the majority of people who were in the gym prior to lockdown 2.0, I am confident we can carry on pretty much as is, with one or two tweaks.
What we’re going to do
As much as I would be fairly confident in changing nothing about what we’re currently doing and carrying on as if the new restrictions don’t apply to us, I feel I have to change a few things for a couple of reasons:
1. The aim of SC Vital Fitness is always to lead.
We want to be at the forefront of the fitness industry, not just in England but in the UK, and interpreting the guidelines with SCVF tinted glasses on is not befitting of the standards I/we want to set.
2. I would not like to disrespect any of our team or you by behaving in a way that could potentially be deemed as negligent or aloof.
We’re taking the situation very seriously and we have to personify that, not just with words but also with actions.
With that, here are a few changes we’re implementing when we open:
1. We’re going to change the name of our Personal Training sessions to Supervised Individual Training in TeamUp
These sessions will run as they currently do, with you being allocated a coach and a pod in the gym.
Your workout will be on the screen and your coach will be there to guide you through the session.
The level of service and attention to detail in your session from our team will remain exactly the same as it currently is.
Again, I feel confident in this move as it would be no different in a commercial gym with people training in an area and a member of staff floating around.
2. Other sessions FIT, Metcon etc will be treated in the same way, own equipment, and supervised with the addition of Move and flow continuing at home AND in the facility simultaneously, so you can benefit from a lie-in on days where you can’t make the gym.
If anything, this will increase the level of service you will receive during those hours so it can only be seen as a positive.
As before there will be slight differentiation on the Supervised Individual Training sessions in the schedule to ‘strength’ and ‘cardio’ (essentially FIT, Metcon, etc) so as we can run slightly different workouts – still at a max of 2 x groups at 6:1.
Again, in a commercial gym setting, this would be no different if you went in one day to lift weights and the next to pound a treadmill so I don’t see why we can’t operate as above with two different suggested workouts for you during particular hours.
This would mean you can still vary your training and ensure there’s not too much load going through your joints on a weekly basis, keeping your risk of injury low.
That’s ultimately the reason we run our Metcon sessions, as well as allowing you to complement your PT sessions and train with us more often.
3. Ask that you wear a mask when entering the gym, hanging around before and after a session, and leaving the gym
Apparently, gyms were pulled into the discussion for increased restrictions, not because of the actual exercise part but because of people congregating at receptions, in changing rooms, etc. where they are less than 2m apart.
So if you could wear a mask when entering, when in the waiting room before/after your session, and when leaving the gym from December that would be much appreciated.
I will be asking the team to do the same.
We also know there maybe some of you who are exempt from wearing masks and that’s cool.
We just ask for common sense to be applied, as well as consideration for others to be shown – both of which we know you and the rest of our community exhibits in abundance.
For the time being the coaches will keep masks off whilst coaching (unless they’d prefer to wear them as individuals, in which case they will) and continue to aim to stay 2m away from you as much as we can.
I may U-turn on this and ask the team to wear masks whilst coaching but for now, I feel comfortable that we’re far enough away during sessions to be safe.
What this means for you
Hopefully not much changes aside from wearing a mask in and out, and I think I can speak for everyone when I say we’re all used to that by now having had to do the same in supermarkets, shops, restaurants, and pubs for what feels like as long as I can remember.
(NOTE: TeamUp will be updated soon)
Can I ask a favour?
We’ve built SC Vital Fitness over the years on good ol’ word of mouth thanks to you spreading the good word, and now more than ever we need that word to spread.
I anticipate the new restrictions will lead to a decrease in the general publics’ confidence in our sector, which I think will lead to a dip in the number of people joining gyms until restrictions are eased again and I just don’t think that’s fair on either the sector or the public.
For us (and the leisure sector as a whole), it’s fairly obvious and clear to see we’ve taken a kicking over the last 7 months and the rug has been pulled from beneath our feet again just as we had regained some sort of stability.
For the public, improving physical and mental health has never been more important and we all know there are enough barriers preventing people from starting a health kick as it is without a deadly virus and government restrictions being added to that list.
Ordinarily, I would get to work and come up with some form of a marketing plan, but I think my hands are going to be a little tied for a few weeks…
“Individual training supervised by a member of gym staff in a COVID-safe environment with quality coffee.” just isn’t that catchy, is it?!
So, if you know anyone who you think would benefit from working with us, please send them our way.
I almost feel a bit cheeky asking you to spread the word as you, as a community, have always been so great at doing so, but I’m sure you understand and I’m also sure you’d like to help us keep our head above the water and improve the health of those around you.
As ever, War and Peace from myself as we continue to battle this virus and its implications.
If you have any concerns or queries do get in touch but hopefully, I’ve covered most (if not all) bases, and hopefully, you’re in agreement with my stance and our reaction to the situation.
I’ll look forward to seeing you in the gym for some Supervised Individual Training over next week.
Yours in Sport and Fitness