Image credit goes to Exclusive Collection – above is their fabulous gym at South Lodge, Horsham, West Sussex, UK
Operators of gyms and pools query England’s new lockdown rules, The Guardian, June 23 2020, Zoe Wood and Paul MacInnes
Choosing pubs over gyms and wellness venues is a lost opportunity
“The government has given the green light to a night out in a pub or restaurant in England but gym workouts, swimming pools, nightclub dance floors and even manicures are still off limits – prompting accusations of glaring inconsistencies as the lockdown is eased.
The chief executive of PureGym, the UK’s biggest gym chain, said he was “bitterly disappointed” by the delay in opening its 269 gyms and questioned the government’s commitment to tackling obesity. “It is a strange war on obesity that sees pubs and restaurants open before gyms,” said Humphrey Cobbold who highlighted that the company had already safely reopened its gyms in Switzerland and Denmark.
Jane Nickerson, the chief executive of Swim England, called on the government to urgently rethink its decision: “Prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that it’s safer to go into a pub than a pool and I’ll shut up. But if not, examine the evidence, come and see our test sites and let us open.”
Through the WI Lens
When the latest easing of lockdown rules in England was announced on 23 June, the vast majority of gyms, spas, swimming pools and a number of indoor sports were disappointed and frustrated that they were not allowed to reopen. Their frustration was compounded by the fact that pubs, restaurants, wine bars and hotels were all among the places given the green light to welcome back the public – seemingly highlighting the prioritization of alcohol-fuelled hedonism over fitness and healthy activity. Children’s soft-play areas, trampoline parks and water parks are also among those that have to stay firmly shut, at least for now.
Boris Johnson’s comment that it is people’s “patriotic duty” to return to pubs reinforced this sense of misguided priority, especially when the risks posed by alcoholic influence and the national urgency to tackle obesity are added to the equation.
Looking at the bigger picture, putting the measures in this order represents a lost opportunity that the pandemic could have offered for a cultural pivot towards getting people more focused on their health, a powerful statement of intent. Just as with other positive side effects of the pandemic, such as the fall in pollution, the Government has a one-off opportunity to change things for the better, rather than turn back the clock to business as usual. Consumers have shown that they want to be more active and healthy – witness the huge increase in cycling during lockdown, or even Lululemon’s $500m acquisition of home-workout company Mirror in the last week. A paradigm shift into a new era of illness prevention, pro-active health and protective medicine is already in the starting blocks. Take the right course now, and the UK Government could be knocking at an open door.
“In the new ‘consensual contract’ between employer and worker, what’s required is a commitment from the employer to safeguard the wellbeing of their people, and a commitment in return from employees to take personal responsibility for their performance of their job.”
“Could loneliness not only be damaging our mental and physical health but also be making the world a more aggressive, angry place? And if so, what are the implications for a cohesive society and democracy?”
“On such fragile foundations are built the first steps towards a more ethical kind of business, and who knows what virtuous circles might result?”
“Scientific evidence recently emerged that, contrary to earlier beliefs, Covid-19 can be spread by tiny droplets that we breathe out when we respire, called aerosols.”
“Economic wellbeing is part of the story, but it is also about finding less stressful lifestyles, in which healthy diet figures as a meaningful measure of success.”
“The industry has every asset needed to be a guiding light in the shift toward personal health priority. Will that become a prevention legacy, a ‘phoenix rising’ from the Covid-19 ashes?”
“Looking at the bigger picture, putting the measures in this order represents a lost opportunity that the pandemic could have offered for a cultural pivot pivot towards getting people more focused on their health, a powerful statement of intent.”
“Employment is necessary to fulfil our most basic human needs such as food and shelter. Any significant increase in long-term unemployment will spell a retrograde step for human wellbeing like no other.”
“All roads lead to a wellbeing anchor, whether that be economic/financial, physical, mental or emotional: all contribute to a progressive and inclusive cosmopolitan world. The answer should not be a choice of one or the other but of a joined up and compassionate solution for society, business and individuals.”
“The paradox is that we continue to do this in spite of recognising that striving to become ever-more productive is an intrinsically unhealthy behaviour, leading to stress and too often, a sense of failure.”