But that has been indicative of the continuing disconnect between government messaging on health and wellbeing and their approach so far to the leisure industry.
We’ve seen hospitality benefit from the Eat Out to Help Out campaign and VAT relief, but no such support for our sector.
When the government did launch their ‘Better Health’ campaign to help people lose weight, get active and eat better, it was based around banning unhealthy food adverts and calorie labelling, not encouraging people back into gyms.
The outdated thinking at government level is also demonstrated by their language, which always focuses on losing weight. Clients at Barry’s often come for one reason, and yes, that might be more toned arms or a six-pack. But nine times out of ten they stay for something else completely, and that’s a mental, not physical thing.
It’s one hour of the day for themselves, where they are able to achieve something that makes them feel better almost immediately, thanks to the happy chemicals of endorphins, dopamine, serotonin and oxytocin that you experience from exercising.
With the pandemic clearly taking a huge toll on people’s mental wellbeing, and suicide rates at their highest in two decades, we should be encouraging our communities to exercise not just to lose weight, but also to improve their mental health.
Our Prime Minister, however, just jokes that if you exercise before breakfast, at least you know nothing for the rest of the day could be worse. Thanks for nothing, Boris.
Instead of coming up with popular strategies to “save Christmas” surely this government should be thinking longer term. Gyms and fitness studios are not just committed to keeping the nation fit and healthy – both physically and mentally. They are also some of the safest and cleanest places in the country, full of people for whom health is a priority. They must be kept open.