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UNITING THE WORLD OF FITNESS
Health Club Management

Health Club Management

features

HCM People: Nick WhitcombeFounder, Body Tech Fitness

I’ve been in the industry for a decade and it’s the first time I’ve seen it truly unified from the top to the bottom

Published in Health Club Management 2020 issue 10
Nick Whitcombe refused to close his bodybuilding gym when Liverpool was placed under tier 3 restrictions / PHOTOs: Nick Whitcombe
Nick Whitcombe refused to close his bodybuilding gym when Liverpool was placed under tier 3 restrictions / PHOTOs: Nick Whitcombe
It makes no sense to close gyms: we’re a pillar which holds the NHS up. We’ve got lives at stake

Independent gym owner Nick Whitcombe has become a fitness industry campaigner of international renown, since refusing to shut his gym in the October tier 3 restrictions in Liverpool.

Whitcombe’s campaign has made him something of a media sensation: featuring on the BBC’s Panorama, (9 November), with a page of coverage in The New York Times, and his reach has stretched as far as Russia Today.

He’s receiving up to 15,000 social media messages a day from people in the industry and well wishers supporting his cause. As a result, pinning him down for an interview was a bit of a challenge, but he managed to squeeze in a quick chat between talking to industry captains and MPs. “It’s a crazy situation,” he says, seemingly bemused that all of this is happening to him.

In case you missed the story breaking, Whitcombe refused to close his bodybuilding gym – Body Tech Fitness – when Liverpool was placed under tier 3 restrictions, despite multiple visits from police and being issued fines.

Using scientific data to back up his decision, he countered that he needed to stay open for his members’ physical and mental wellbeing.

“With 62 million gym visits across Europe with only 487 confirmed cases, we’re not adding to the problem, we are part of the solution,” he says.

Whitcombe’s campaign quickly gathered momentum, with industry heavyweights getting behind it, as well as receiving support from local MPs. A petition reached 600,000 signatures in less than a week, and a gofundme page to pay fines and legal costs raised £55,000 in six days.

Collaborative effort
Now, as we’re in the second lockdown, Whitcombe is at the heart of a second campaign to get the health and fitness industry classified as an ‘Essential Service’, which would mean it can stay open during lockdowns and be a fundamental pillar to support the NHS. “Everyone’s on board in this campaign. We’re working with local MPs, ukactive, sports and nutrition companies and the big players like Grenade, Pure Gym and Gymshark,” he says.

“I’ve been in the industry for a decade and it’s the first time that I’ve seen it truly unified from the top to the bottom, which I think is a silver lining to come out of this situation. We’re all standing together now – independents, corporates, suppliers. This is testament to the magnitude of the situation.”

Whitcombe is deeply frustrated at the enforced shutdown of the health and physical industry: “The suicide rate is at an all time high. The depression rate is double that of last year. Our members are missing out on the physical and mental benefits of a workout.”

Essential service
Whitcombe says that rather than focus on getting the decision to close gyms overturned, he is putting his energies into the campaign to have the health and fitness industry classified as an Essential Service which supports the NHS. Long-term this would be a phenomenal accomplishment and have a far reaching impact.

He wants to see a Work Out to Help Out scheme, to help avoid the deterioration in mental and physical health the second lockdown is sure to bring.

“Prevention is better – and more cost-effective – than cure,” he says. “The government doesn’t always listen to logic, but they will listen to budgets. So if we can show them how we can stem the drain which lifestyle diseases, such as diabetes, put on the NHS, they may comprehend how our industry can genuinely protect the NHS. No other sector can support it as we can.”

Whitcombe launched his gym in 2013, coming into the industry from an acrobatics and Parkour background – he was a former stuntperson, working for big hitters such as Redbull, Nike and Adidas. He says he comes from a very accepting, non-competitive culture and was keen to bring that ethos into his gym. As a result, members are encouraged to be social – get to know each other, connect on social media and share advice.

Making history
“For me, as one of the little guys, being part of this industry movement is insane,” he says. “It’s been absolutely crazy to have emails from the titans of the industry in my inbox. It’s like the local takeaway chatting to the CEO of McDonald’s! It’s never happened before. It’s not testament to me, it’s just a demonstration of the magnitude of the situation. I think we’ll make history in the sector.”

Despite his evident disappointment, concern and frustration, Whitcombe is truly encouraged and invigorated by the spirit of co-operation and collaboration which is running through the industry: “It used to be us versus them, but now the big boys are playing with the little businesses and if we continue to collaborate we can be even more successful as an industry,” he says.

“The beast has awakened,” he continues. “I don’t think the government has ever appreciated how influential our sector is. The unification of our sector is a victory because it will really benefit the country. If we’re on the Essential Services list we can support the NHS with their overall goal, which would be a fantastic outcome.”

• You can join Nick’s petition at www.HCMmag.com/whitcombe

Sign up here to get HCM's weekly ezine and every issue of HCM magazine free on digital.
Whitcombe has refused to close his gym during COVID-19 restrictions, saying it is essential to members’ wellbeing / PHOTOs: Nick Whitcombe
Whitcombe has refused to close his gym during COVID-19 restrictions, saying it is essential to members’ wellbeing / PHOTOs: Nick Whitcombe
/ PHOTOs: Nick Whitcombe
Whitcombe believes this situation has unified the fitness sector, and that this unification will benefit the country / PHOTOs: Nick Whitcombe
Whitcombe believes this situation has unified the fitness sector, and that this unification will benefit the country / PHOTOs: Nick Whitcombe
https://www.leisureopportunities.co.uk/images/2020/110102_752217.jpg
Gym owner @nickwhitcombe1 has become a fitness industry campaigner, fighting for the right to reopen his gym – and stay open
Nick Whitcombe, Body Tech Fitness, liverpool,campaigner, covid-19,lockdown
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Diary dates
03-06 Jun 2021
Expo Centre & Riviera di Rimini, Italy
Diary dates
12 Jun 2021
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Diary dates
13-14 Jun 2021
Online,
Diary dates
16-17 Jun 2021
ExCeL London, London, United Kingdom
Diary dates
18-19 Sep 2021
Locations worldwide,
Diary dates
21-24 Sep 2021
Messe Stuttgart, Germany
Diary dates
01-07 Dec 2022
tbc, Dunedin, New Zealand
Diary dates

features

HCM People: Nick WhitcombeFounder, Body Tech Fitness

I’ve been in the industry for a decade and it’s the first time I’ve seen it truly unified from the top to the bottom

Published in Health Club Management 2020 issue 10
Nick Whitcombe refused to close his bodybuilding gym when Liverpool was placed under tier 3 restrictions / PHOTOs: Nick Whitcombe
Nick Whitcombe refused to close his bodybuilding gym when Liverpool was placed under tier 3 restrictions / PHOTOs: Nick Whitcombe
It makes no sense to close gyms: we’re a pillar which holds the NHS up. We’ve got lives at stake

Independent gym owner Nick Whitcombe has become a fitness industry campaigner of international renown, since refusing to shut his gym in the October tier 3 restrictions in Liverpool.

Whitcombe’s campaign has made him something of a media sensation: featuring on the BBC’s Panorama, (9 November), with a page of coverage in The New York Times, and his reach has stretched as far as Russia Today.

He’s receiving up to 15,000 social media messages a day from people in the industry and well wishers supporting his cause. As a result, pinning him down for an interview was a bit of a challenge, but he managed to squeeze in a quick chat between talking to industry captains and MPs. “It’s a crazy situation,” he says, seemingly bemused that all of this is happening to him.

In case you missed the story breaking, Whitcombe refused to close his bodybuilding gym – Body Tech Fitness – when Liverpool was placed under tier 3 restrictions, despite multiple visits from police and being issued fines.

Using scientific data to back up his decision, he countered that he needed to stay open for his members’ physical and mental wellbeing.

“With 62 million gym visits across Europe with only 487 confirmed cases, we’re not adding to the problem, we are part of the solution,” he says.

Whitcombe’s campaign quickly gathered momentum, with industry heavyweights getting behind it, as well as receiving support from local MPs. A petition reached 600,000 signatures in less than a week, and a gofundme page to pay fines and legal costs raised £55,000 in six days.

Collaborative effort
Now, as we’re in the second lockdown, Whitcombe is at the heart of a second campaign to get the health and fitness industry classified as an ‘Essential Service’, which would mean it can stay open during lockdowns and be a fundamental pillar to support the NHS. “Everyone’s on board in this campaign. We’re working with local MPs, ukactive, sports and nutrition companies and the big players like Grenade, Pure Gym and Gymshark,” he says.

“I’ve been in the industry for a decade and it’s the first time that I’ve seen it truly unified from the top to the bottom, which I think is a silver lining to come out of this situation. We’re all standing together now – independents, corporates, suppliers. This is testament to the magnitude of the situation.”

Whitcombe is deeply frustrated at the enforced shutdown of the health and physical industry: “The suicide rate is at an all time high. The depression rate is double that of last year. Our members are missing out on the physical and mental benefits of a workout.”

Essential service
Whitcombe says that rather than focus on getting the decision to close gyms overturned, he is putting his energies into the campaign to have the health and fitness industry classified as an Essential Service which supports the NHS. Long-term this would be a phenomenal accomplishment and have a far reaching impact.

He wants to see a Work Out to Help Out scheme, to help avoid the deterioration in mental and physical health the second lockdown is sure to bring.

“Prevention is better – and more cost-effective – than cure,” he says. “The government doesn’t always listen to logic, but they will listen to budgets. So if we can show them how we can stem the drain which lifestyle diseases, such as diabetes, put on the NHS, they may comprehend how our industry can genuinely protect the NHS. No other sector can support it as we can.”

Whitcombe launched his gym in 2013, coming into the industry from an acrobatics and Parkour background – he was a former stuntperson, working for big hitters such as Redbull, Nike and Adidas. He says he comes from a very accepting, non-competitive culture and was keen to bring that ethos into his gym. As a result, members are encouraged to be social – get to know each other, connect on social media and share advice.

Making history
“For me, as one of the little guys, being part of this industry movement is insane,” he says. “It’s been absolutely crazy to have emails from the titans of the industry in my inbox. It’s like the local takeaway chatting to the CEO of McDonald’s! It’s never happened before. It’s not testament to me, it’s just a demonstration of the magnitude of the situation. I think we’ll make history in the sector.”

Despite his evident disappointment, concern and frustration, Whitcombe is truly encouraged and invigorated by the spirit of co-operation and collaboration which is running through the industry: “It used to be us versus them, but now the big boys are playing with the little businesses and if we continue to collaborate we can be even more successful as an industry,” he says.

“The beast has awakened,” he continues. “I don’t think the government has ever appreciated how influential our sector is. The unification of our sector is a victory because it will really benefit the country. If we’re on the Essential Services list we can support the NHS with their overall goal, which would be a fantastic outcome.”

• You can join Nick’s petition at www.HCMmag.com/whitcombe

Sign up here to get HCM's weekly ezine and every issue of HCM magazine free on digital.
Whitcombe has refused to close his gym during COVID-19 restrictions, saying it is essential to members’ wellbeing / PHOTOs: Nick Whitcombe
Whitcombe has refused to close his gym during COVID-19 restrictions, saying it is essential to members’ wellbeing / PHOTOs: Nick Whitcombe
/ PHOTOs: Nick Whitcombe
Whitcombe believes this situation has unified the fitness sector, and that this unification will benefit the country / PHOTOs: Nick Whitcombe
Whitcombe believes this situation has unified the fitness sector, and that this unification will benefit the country / PHOTOs: Nick Whitcombe
https://www.leisureopportunities.co.uk/images/2020/110102_752217.jpg
Gym owner @nickwhitcombe1 has become a fitness industry campaigner, fighting for the right to reopen his gym – and stay open
Nick Whitcombe, Body Tech Fitness, liverpool,campaigner, covid-19,lockdown
Latest News
US fitness industry revenue dropped 58 per cent during 2020 – from the US$35bn all-time ...
Latest News
The UK government is exploring whether incentivising people financially to take part in physical activity ...
Latest News
The Budget announcement has left the UK's physical activity sector with "unanswered questions" and vowing ...
Latest News
Chancellor Rishi Sunak has unveiled an additional £700m funding boost for sports and culture, as ...
Latest News
The merger of two tech firms will result in the creation of a business software ...
Latest News
3d Leisure has put the current lockdown to good use, by stepping in to help ...
Latest News
Gyms and leisure centres in Scotland are set to open on 26 April, provided that ...
Latest News
Hundreds of gyms, swimming pools and leisure centres have been forced to close and thousands ...
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Featured supplier news
Featured supplier: What does a socially distanced leisure centre and health club look like?
The world has had to get used to social distancing in 2020 and any business operating in the leisure and hospitality sectors has had to face this challenge more than most.
Featured supplier news
Featured supplier: AskNicely helps empower businesses to improve customer experience and boost NPS
Maintaining a consistent member experience across a growing health and fitness brand can prove challenging.
Company profiles
Company profile: Fisikal Limited
Fisikal helps fitness professionals, operators and education organisations improve efficiencies and service through its online ...
Company profiles
Company profile: Les Mills UK
Committed to creating a fitter planet, Les Mills UK works with clubs and instructors to ...
Catalogue Gallery
Click on a catalogue to view it online
Directory
Member feedback software
AskNicely: Member feedback software
Hydrotherapy / spa fragrances
Kemitron GmbH: Hydrotherapy / spa fragrances
Exercise equipment
Pendex Fisio S.L.: Exercise equipment
Whole body cryotherapy
Art of Cryo: Whole body cryotherapy
Spa software
SpaBooker: Spa software
Fitness equipment
Precor: Fitness equipment
Management software
fibodo Limited: Management software
Skincare
Sothys: Skincare
Independent service & maintenance
Servicesport UK Limited: Independent service & maintenance
Lockers/interior design
Crown Sports Lockers: Lockers/interior design
Property & Tenders
Diary dates
03-06 Jun 2021
Expo Centre & Riviera di Rimini, Italy
Diary dates
12 Jun 2021
Worldwide, Various,
Diary dates
13-14 Jun 2021
Online,
Diary dates
16-17 Jun 2021
ExCeL London, London, United Kingdom
Diary dates
18-19 Sep 2021
Locations worldwide,
Diary dates
21-24 Sep 2021
Messe Stuttgart, Germany
Diary dates
01-07 Dec 2022
tbc, Dunedin, New Zealand
Diary dates
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