Latest
issue
GET HCM
magazine
Sign up for the FREE digital edition of HCM magazine and also get the HCM ezine and breaking news email alerts.
Not right now, thanksclose this window I've already subscribed!
Technogym
Technogym
Technogym
Follow Health Club Management on Twitter Like Health Club Management on Facebook Join the discussion with Health Club Management on LinkedIn Follow Health Club Management on Instagram
FITNESS, HEALTH, WELLNESS

features

Policy: Long COVID

Long COVID is affecting up to 30 per cent of people who contract the virus. How can you support members suffering from this condition? Kath Hudson speaks to ACE’s Dr Cedric Bryant about his experience

Published in Health Club Management 2023 issue 4
Millions of people need support getting back to exercise safely after Long COVID / photo: Shutterstock/Maridav
Millions of people need support getting back to exercise safely after Long COVID / photo: Shutterstock/Maridav
Encourage members to be patient. Help them identify small wins and signs of progress to make them feel more hopeful

The most difficult and challenging thing to deal with was the uncertainty of when, and if, it would end. I tried to keep up the positive self-talk that there would be light at the end of the tunnel, but the longer the symptoms persisted, the more I started to wonder if I would have to make dramatic changes to my lifestyle.”

As someone who enjoyed optimal health and does all the things our industry advises for a healthy lifestyle, ACE’s president and chief science officer, Dr Cedric Bryant, did not expect to suffer from Long COVID, especially as his initial infection was mild and short-lived. So it came as a massive shock when – four weeks after his 36-hour illness – he woke up unable to grip with his left hand. The joint pain swiftly swept through his body and tests showed his inflammatory markers were elevated to alarming levels.

A rheumatologist diagnosed it as post-COVID reactive arthritis and said it could take between several weeks to a year to resolve. Seven weeks later the joint pain abated only to be replaced with chronic fatigue from any type of exertion. “That was when I became a member of the Long COVID club,” says Bryant. “I thought the joint pain was awful, but the extreme fatigue associated with the lightest levels of mental or physical exertion was even more troubling.

“Prior to having that experience I would edit books and manuscripts for hours while exercising on the treadmill, but after an hour or so of brain activity post-COVID I’d have to take a nap,” he says. “I love to exercise, but the lightest level of exertion just wiped me out. After a low level, 10-minute session on a recumbent bike, I would feel as though I’d run a marathon in terms of fatigue.”

Widespread issue
It’s difficult to put a number on how many people have Long COVID, as symptoms are so varied that some cases may be undiagnosed. More than 200 symptoms have been associated with the condition. The most common are fatigue, shortness of breath, loss of smell and muscle aches. Others include insomnia, anxiety and depression, stomach issues, a temperature, rashes, heart palpitations, brain fog, joint pain and chest pain.


The World Health Organization estimates 10 per cent of people go on to develop the condition after an infection, while a UK study puts the number at 30 per cent. The Office for National Statistics says 2.1 million people in the UK were experiencing symptoms of Long COVID in December 2022.

According to the National Center for Health Statistics, more than 40 per cent of adults in the US have reported having COVID and 19 per cent of those had symptoms of Long COVID – that’s 7.5 per cent of American adults.

How can health clubs help?
Given these figures, there are likely to be a number of Long COVID sufferers among your membership who will be getting frustrated and downhearted that they can’t take part in their favourite workouts. Or they’ll persist in doing so, only to be knocked out for days afterwards, experiencing a cycle of frustration and despair.

Bryant recommends against discouraging them from coming to the club, because that will be negatively affect their mental state, but encourage them to do a very gentle workout, focusing on stretching and mild movement, with some core work: “Be prepared for lots of trial and error, because no two Long COVID sufferers are the same,” he says. “Have good lines of communication, ask lots of questions and treat the person as a true individual.”

For Bryant, the improvements came after about four months. They weren’t quick, but there was a continuous gradual upward progression. “I took the tortoise approach: starting low and going slow. Beginning with five or 10 minutes of cardio, below the talk test threshold and seeing how my body tolerated it. If I was fine I would add a minute or two each time. Once I got up to 20 or 30 minutes of activity, I started to increase the intensity and it took about six weeks to get back to a normal workout.”

While the gradual approach to rehabilitation is universal, Bryant points out that no two people will have the same experience, so it’s important to ask a lot of questions, find out their current exercise tolerance and tailor the comeback accordingly.

“Often in our industry there’s the mentality that you can do a bit more, but in this instance we should do the opposite,” he says. “Encourage them to be patient. Help them to identify small wins and signs of progress: this could do wonders in making them feel more hopeful.”

What to avoid
Bryant also gives some recommendations about what not to do. “Don’t minimise or invalidate your clients’ experience and be careful not to share the experience of someone else you know, because everyone’s journey is different.

“And even though it comes from a good place, don’t say things such as “you’ve got this” or “you’re going to get through this,” he says. “While it’s well intentioned and nice to say such things, it’s somewhat meaningless when you can’t sit at your computer for more than half an hour. Listen more and counsel less.”

A concerted effort is underway to understand the condition and establish how to treat it. The UK government has invested more than £50m into research, run by the National Institute of Health and Care Research (NIHCR). Studies are looking into who gets Long COVID and its biological causes, as well as evaluating treatments, recovery and rehabilitation and the impact of the vaccination programme.

• A new study, Long COVID outcomes at one year after mild SARS-CoV-2 infection, by the KI Research Institute and Maccabi Healthcare Services and led by Maytal Bivas-Benita, found for those with an mild illness, most Long COVID symptoms resolve within a year, with outcomes being more favourable in those who had been vaccinated, however, for those with more severe infections, it can persist for an indeterminate time.

PHOTO: ACE

"Often in our industry there is the mentality that you can do a bit more, but in this instance we should do the opposite" – Cedric Bryant had Long COVID for around four months

What NIHCR research has told us so far…

• People with mild COVID symptoms can still have long-term problems, but people who had five or more COVID symptoms are more likely to develop Long COVID

• Non-white ethnic minority groups are 70 per cent less likely to report their Long COVID symptoms

• Up to one in three people who have had the virus report Long COVID symptoms and up to one in seven children

• Unvaccinated people are more likely to develop Long COVID than those who are vaccinated

• Three times more people in their 50s have symptoms of Long COVID than those who are over 80.

• Middle-aged people are more likely to suffer ongoing problems than younger adults: 4.8 per cent compared to 1.2 per cent

• Women are 50 per cent more likely to be affected than men, particularly if they had poor pre-pandemic mental or physical health

• Being overweight or obese and suffering from asthma are also risk factors

• Other research has shown blood group is a factor, with A being more vulnerable to contracting COVID-19 and O less likely

Listen more and counsel less if members have Long COVID, as everyone’s experience is different / Photo: Ground Picture/shutterstock
Listen more and counsel less if members have Long COVID, as everyone’s experience is different / Photo: Ground Picture/shutterstock
https://www.leisureopportunities.co.uk/images/2023/186148_196903.jpg
Long COVID is affecting 30 per cent of people who’ve had the virus. Dr Cedric Bryant details his own experience, and suggests ways clubs can offer support
HCM magazine
Consumers tell us they want support in leading longer, healthier lives and we’re the only industry sector with the capability of delivering on this, so we must ensure strategy is aligned with demand
HCM magazine
If we had a product that only worked if people had lots of money, we’d be out of business by now
HCM magazine
HCM People

Jamie Groves

MD, Denbighshire Leisure
Denbighshire Leisure’s turnover has increased by 25 per cent since 2021, so the developments have paid for themselves and more
HCM magazine
The right storage can transform the flow and feel of your training spaces and the user experience. Steph Eaves asks the experts for their most creative solutions
HCM magazine
Delivering personally-designed workouts can create a placebo effect that yields better results, find researchers
HCM promotional features
Sponsored
On opening night, our attendees pushed their limits during a team- centred workout
HCM promotional features
Sponsored
Ridgeway has created a series of luxury spaces for the new Third Space in Wimbledon, designing, making and installing furniture in key areas of the club
HCM promotional features
Sponsored profile: Technogym
The GM of The Club & Spa Bristol tells us about the cutting edge club refresh that showcases the Technogym Artis Line
HCM promotional features
Promotion
Small group training is popular for its energy, but must evolve to retain popularity, says the director of training at Matrix Fitness
HCM promotional features
Sponsored
Creating successful training environments requires a deep knowledge of functional design. Gregory Bradley, sales director at BLK BOX Fitness talks us through the company’s approach
HCM promotional features
Promotion
Using research that revealed three key pillars for cardio exercisers, Life Fitness has created its greatest-ever console: the Discover SE4
HCM promotional features
Latest News
In the same week as tennis legend, Andre Agassi, was appointed to the board of ...
Latest News
According to a pilot study by Yale School of Medicine, exercise can not only slow ...
Latest News
Self Esteem Brands (SEB), owner of Anytime Fitness, has released year-end results which show year-on-year ...
Latest News
Basic-Fit has introduced a new approach to tackle gymtimidation and create an inclusive environment in ...
Latest News
Speaking exclusively in the current issue of HCM magazine, Third Space CEO, Colin Waggett, says ...
Latest News
Australian exercise and active health trade body, AUSactive, has partnered with the national Royal Life ...
Latest News
Kerzner International has ushered in a new era of wellness-centric hospitality and unveiled its highly-anticipated ...
Latest News
Following a successful pilot, The Gym Group is rolling out a programme, delivered by The ...
Featured supplier news
Featured supplier news: Longevity and recovery specialist Jonathan Leary to headline PerformX 2024
PerformX Live, the premier business of fitness event, has announced Dr Jonathan Leary, founder and CEO of Remedy Place, as the headliner for its 2024 event.
Featured supplier news
Featured supplier news: seca TRU: Medical values for medical fitness
Developed for the world of medicine, tailored to the needs of modern fitness studios. The seca TRU seamlessly provides medical expertise for health-focused training with a clinically validated body composition analysis meeting the health and fitness industry's evolving demands.
Company profiles
Company profile: TechnoAlpin
TechnoAlpin is the world leader for snowmaking systems. Our product portfolio includes all different types ...
Company profiles
Company profile: Speedflex (UK & Ireland) Limited
Speedflex enables every participant to train at their own preferred intensity, offering a completely personalised ...
Supplier Showcases
Supplier showcase - Fisikal: Fast reactions
Catalogue Gallery
Click on a catalogue to view it online
Featured press releases
Precor UK press release: Precor launches new functional strength training line powered by BeaverFit
Precor, trusted fitness solution provider to more than 14,000 global facilities, has selected BeaverFit, the world’s largest supplier of fitness equipment to U.S. and NATO militaries, to design and manufacture their new functional training line.
Featured press releases
The Health & Fitness Institute press release: THFI Launches Wellness Coaching Qualification Aimed at NHS Relief and Economic Boost
Recent data from UK Active has revealed that a shocking 25% of the UK’s population is classed as ‘inactive,’ averaging less than 30 minutes of exercise a week.
Directory
Lockers
Fitlockers: Lockers
Snowroom
TechnoAlpin SpA: Snowroom
Flooring
Total Vibration Solutions / TVS Sports Surfaces: Flooring
Cryotherapy
Art of Cryo: Cryotherapy
Salt therapy products
Himalayan Source: Salt therapy products
Spa software
SpaBooker: Spa software
Property & Tenders
Loughton, IG10
Knight Frank
Property & Tenders
Grantham, Leicestershire
Belvoir Castle
Property & Tenders
Diary dates
11-14 Apr 2024
Exhibition Centre , Cologne, Germany
Diary dates
22-24 Apr 2024
Galgorm Resort, York,
Diary dates
30 May - 02 Jun 2024
Rimini Exhibition Center, Rimini, Italy
Diary dates
08-08 Jun 2024
Worldwide, Various,
Diary dates
11-13 Jun 2024
Raffles City Convention Centre, Singapore, Singapore
Diary dates
12-13 Jun 2024
ExCeL London, London, United Kingdom
Diary dates
22-25 Oct 2024
Messe Stuttgart, Germany
Diary dates
04-07 Nov 2024
In person, St Andrews, United Kingdom
Diary dates

features

Policy: Long COVID

Long COVID is affecting up to 30 per cent of people who contract the virus. How can you support members suffering from this condition? Kath Hudson speaks to ACE’s Dr Cedric Bryant about his experience

Published in Health Club Management 2023 issue 4
Millions of people need support getting back to exercise safely after Long COVID / photo: Shutterstock/Maridav
Millions of people need support getting back to exercise safely after Long COVID / photo: Shutterstock/Maridav
Encourage members to be patient. Help them identify small wins and signs of progress to make them feel more hopeful

The most difficult and challenging thing to deal with was the uncertainty of when, and if, it would end. I tried to keep up the positive self-talk that there would be light at the end of the tunnel, but the longer the symptoms persisted, the more I started to wonder if I would have to make dramatic changes to my lifestyle.”

As someone who enjoyed optimal health and does all the things our industry advises for a healthy lifestyle, ACE’s president and chief science officer, Dr Cedric Bryant, did not expect to suffer from Long COVID, especially as his initial infection was mild and short-lived. So it came as a massive shock when – four weeks after his 36-hour illness – he woke up unable to grip with his left hand. The joint pain swiftly swept through his body and tests showed his inflammatory markers were elevated to alarming levels.

A rheumatologist diagnosed it as post-COVID reactive arthritis and said it could take between several weeks to a year to resolve. Seven weeks later the joint pain abated only to be replaced with chronic fatigue from any type of exertion. “That was when I became a member of the Long COVID club,” says Bryant. “I thought the joint pain was awful, but the extreme fatigue associated with the lightest levels of mental or physical exertion was even more troubling.

“Prior to having that experience I would edit books and manuscripts for hours while exercising on the treadmill, but after an hour or so of brain activity post-COVID I’d have to take a nap,” he says. “I love to exercise, but the lightest level of exertion just wiped me out. After a low level, 10-minute session on a recumbent bike, I would feel as though I’d run a marathon in terms of fatigue.”

Widespread issue
It’s difficult to put a number on how many people have Long COVID, as symptoms are so varied that some cases may be undiagnosed. More than 200 symptoms have been associated with the condition. The most common are fatigue, shortness of breath, loss of smell and muscle aches. Others include insomnia, anxiety and depression, stomach issues, a temperature, rashes, heart palpitations, brain fog, joint pain and chest pain.


The World Health Organization estimates 10 per cent of people go on to develop the condition after an infection, while a UK study puts the number at 30 per cent. The Office for National Statistics says 2.1 million people in the UK were experiencing symptoms of Long COVID in December 2022.

According to the National Center for Health Statistics, more than 40 per cent of adults in the US have reported having COVID and 19 per cent of those had symptoms of Long COVID – that’s 7.5 per cent of American adults.

How can health clubs help?
Given these figures, there are likely to be a number of Long COVID sufferers among your membership who will be getting frustrated and downhearted that they can’t take part in their favourite workouts. Or they’ll persist in doing so, only to be knocked out for days afterwards, experiencing a cycle of frustration and despair.

Bryant recommends against discouraging them from coming to the club, because that will be negatively affect their mental state, but encourage them to do a very gentle workout, focusing on stretching and mild movement, with some core work: “Be prepared for lots of trial and error, because no two Long COVID sufferers are the same,” he says. “Have good lines of communication, ask lots of questions and treat the person as a true individual.”

For Bryant, the improvements came after about four months. They weren’t quick, but there was a continuous gradual upward progression. “I took the tortoise approach: starting low and going slow. Beginning with five or 10 minutes of cardio, below the talk test threshold and seeing how my body tolerated it. If I was fine I would add a minute or two each time. Once I got up to 20 or 30 minutes of activity, I started to increase the intensity and it took about six weeks to get back to a normal workout.”

While the gradual approach to rehabilitation is universal, Bryant points out that no two people will have the same experience, so it’s important to ask a lot of questions, find out their current exercise tolerance and tailor the comeback accordingly.

“Often in our industry there’s the mentality that you can do a bit more, but in this instance we should do the opposite,” he says. “Encourage them to be patient. Help them to identify small wins and signs of progress: this could do wonders in making them feel more hopeful.”

What to avoid
Bryant also gives some recommendations about what not to do. “Don’t minimise or invalidate your clients’ experience and be careful not to share the experience of someone else you know, because everyone’s journey is different.

“And even though it comes from a good place, don’t say things such as “you’ve got this” or “you’re going to get through this,” he says. “While it’s well intentioned and nice to say such things, it’s somewhat meaningless when you can’t sit at your computer for more than half an hour. Listen more and counsel less.”

A concerted effort is underway to understand the condition and establish how to treat it. The UK government has invested more than £50m into research, run by the National Institute of Health and Care Research (NIHCR). Studies are looking into who gets Long COVID and its biological causes, as well as evaluating treatments, recovery and rehabilitation and the impact of the vaccination programme.

• A new study, Long COVID outcomes at one year after mild SARS-CoV-2 infection, by the KI Research Institute and Maccabi Healthcare Services and led by Maytal Bivas-Benita, found for those with an mild illness, most Long COVID symptoms resolve within a year, with outcomes being more favourable in those who had been vaccinated, however, for those with more severe infections, it can persist for an indeterminate time.

PHOTO: ACE

"Often in our industry there is the mentality that you can do a bit more, but in this instance we should do the opposite" – Cedric Bryant had Long COVID for around four months

What NIHCR research has told us so far…

• People with mild COVID symptoms can still have long-term problems, but people who had five or more COVID symptoms are more likely to develop Long COVID

• Non-white ethnic minority groups are 70 per cent less likely to report their Long COVID symptoms

• Up to one in three people who have had the virus report Long COVID symptoms and up to one in seven children

• Unvaccinated people are more likely to develop Long COVID than those who are vaccinated

• Three times more people in their 50s have symptoms of Long COVID than those who are over 80.

• Middle-aged people are more likely to suffer ongoing problems than younger adults: 4.8 per cent compared to 1.2 per cent

• Women are 50 per cent more likely to be affected than men, particularly if they had poor pre-pandemic mental or physical health

• Being overweight or obese and suffering from asthma are also risk factors

• Other research has shown blood group is a factor, with A being more vulnerable to contracting COVID-19 and O less likely

Listen more and counsel less if members have Long COVID, as everyone’s experience is different / Photo: Ground Picture/shutterstock
Listen more and counsel less if members have Long COVID, as everyone’s experience is different / Photo: Ground Picture/shutterstock
https://www.leisureopportunities.co.uk/images/2023/186148_196903.jpg
Long COVID is affecting 30 per cent of people who’ve had the virus. Dr Cedric Bryant details his own experience, and suggests ways clubs can offer support
Latest News
In the same week as tennis legend, Andre Agassi, was appointed to the board of ...
Latest News
According to a pilot study by Yale School of Medicine, exercise can not only slow ...
Latest News
Self Esteem Brands (SEB), owner of Anytime Fitness, has released year-end results which show year-on-year ...
Latest News
Basic-Fit has introduced a new approach to tackle gymtimidation and create an inclusive environment in ...
Latest News
Speaking exclusively in the current issue of HCM magazine, Third Space CEO, Colin Waggett, says ...
Latest News
Australian exercise and active health trade body, AUSactive, has partnered with the national Royal Life ...
Latest News
Kerzner International has ushered in a new era of wellness-centric hospitality and unveiled its highly-anticipated ...
Latest News
Following a successful pilot, The Gym Group is rolling out a programme, delivered by The ...
Latest News
As Planet Fitness announces strong year-end results there are reports the company is planning a ...
Latest News
The ICO has ruled that eight leisure operators have been unlawfully processing the biometric data ...
Latest News
Xponential Fitness has told HCM it will vigorously defend itself against claims made in a ...
Featured supplier news
Featured supplier news: Longevity and recovery specialist Jonathan Leary to headline PerformX 2024
PerformX Live, the premier business of fitness event, has announced Dr Jonathan Leary, founder and CEO of Remedy Place, as the headliner for its 2024 event.
Featured supplier news
Featured supplier news: seca TRU: Medical values for medical fitness
Developed for the world of medicine, tailored to the needs of modern fitness studios. The seca TRU seamlessly provides medical expertise for health-focused training with a clinically validated body composition analysis meeting the health and fitness industry's evolving demands.
Company profiles
Company profile: TechnoAlpin
TechnoAlpin is the world leader for snowmaking systems. Our product portfolio includes all different types ...
Company profiles
Company profile: Speedflex (UK & Ireland) Limited
Speedflex enables every participant to train at their own preferred intensity, offering a completely personalised ...
Supplier Showcases
Supplier showcase - Fisikal: Fast reactions
Catalogue Gallery
Click on a catalogue to view it online
Featured press releases
Precor UK press release: Precor launches new functional strength training line powered by BeaverFit
Precor, trusted fitness solution provider to more than 14,000 global facilities, has selected BeaverFit, the world’s largest supplier of fitness equipment to U.S. and NATO militaries, to design and manufacture their new functional training line.
Featured press releases
The Health & Fitness Institute press release: THFI Launches Wellness Coaching Qualification Aimed at NHS Relief and Economic Boost
Recent data from UK Active has revealed that a shocking 25% of the UK’s population is classed as ‘inactive,’ averaging less than 30 minutes of exercise a week.
Directory
Lockers
Fitlockers: Lockers
Snowroom
TechnoAlpin SpA: Snowroom
Flooring
Total Vibration Solutions / TVS Sports Surfaces: Flooring
Cryotherapy
Art of Cryo: Cryotherapy
Salt therapy products
Himalayan Source: Salt therapy products
Spa software
SpaBooker: Spa software
Property & Tenders
Loughton, IG10
Knight Frank
Property & Tenders
Grantham, Leicestershire
Belvoir Castle
Property & Tenders
Diary dates
11-14 Apr 2024
Exhibition Centre , Cologne, Germany
Diary dates
22-24 Apr 2024
Galgorm Resort, York,
Diary dates
30 May - 02 Jun 2024
Rimini Exhibition Center, Rimini, Italy
Diary dates
08-08 Jun 2024
Worldwide, Various,
Diary dates
11-13 Jun 2024
Raffles City Convention Centre, Singapore, Singapore
Diary dates
12-13 Jun 2024
ExCeL London, London, United Kingdom
Diary dates
22-25 Oct 2024
Messe Stuttgart, Germany
Diary dates
04-07 Nov 2024
In person, St Andrews, United Kingdom
Diary dates
Search news, features & products:
Find a supplier:
Technogym
Technogym
Partner sites