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Health Club Management

Health Club Management

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UNITING THE WORLD OF FITNESS
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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
Whitcombe is 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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HCM People
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
HCM Magazine
Latest News
Nick Whitcombe, the independent gym owner who refused to shut his gym during the October ...
Latest News
This year's UK government Spending Review, announced in Parliament by chancellor Rishi Sunak on 25 ...
Latest News
Up to 100k people will benefit from the free gym and physical activity sessions, thanks ...
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To the relief of the sector, the UK government confirmed yesterday (23 November) that gyms, ...
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Closing gyms and leisure facilities during any possible future lockdown would be "unthinkable", according to ...
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The University of Stirling has opened its new £20m sports and fitness centre. The building, ...
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Gyms are right near the bottom of the list in terms of places people have ...
Opinion
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With January now close on the horizon your thoughts will be firmly focused on sales campaigns to attract new members through your doors in the new year rush.
Opinion: Sealing the Leaky Bucket – 7 Research-Based Tips for Retaining New Members in January 2021
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Video Gallery
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Give your members the immersive cycling experience that keeps your members engaged – today and tomorrow. Read more
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Company profile: Healthcheck Services Ltd
Here at Healthcheck Services, we want to empower you, your clients & your staff to ...
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Company profile: EMD UK
EMD UK is the national governing body for group exercise. Funded by Sport England, EMD ...
Catalogue Gallery
Click on a catalogue to view it online
Directory
Gym flooring
REGUPOL/Berleburger Schaumstoffwerk (BSW): Gym flooring
Fitness equipment
TRX Training: Fitness equipment
Spa software
SpaBooker: Spa software
Management software
fibodo Limited: Management software
Locking solutions
Monster Padlocks: Locking solutions
Skincare
Comfort Zone - Davines S.p.A: Skincare
Hydrotherapy / spa fragrances
Kemitron GmbH: Hydrotherapy / spa fragrances
Member feedback software
AskNicely: Member feedback software
Trade associations
International SPA Association - iSPA: Trade associations
Fitness Software
FunXtion International BV: Fitness Software
Property & Tenders
11 - 25 Union St, London SE1 1SD
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Diary dates
03-03 Dec 2020
Virtual,
Diary dates
09 Dec 2020
Raffles City Convention Centre, Singapore, Singapore
Diary dates
02-04 Feb 2021
Ericsson Exhibition Hall, Ricoh Arena, Coventry, United Kingdom
Diary dates
23-26 Feb 2021
IFEMA, Madrid, Spain
Diary dates
03-04 Mar 2021
NEC, Birmingham, United Kingdom
Diary dates
03-06 Jun 2021
Expo Centre & Riviera di Rimini, Italy
Diary dates
16-17 Jun 2021
ExCeL London, London, United Kingdom
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
Whitcombe is fighting for the right to reopen his gym – and stay open
Nick Whitcombe, Body Tech Fitness, liverpool,campaigner, covid-19,lockdown
Latest News
Nick Whitcombe, the independent gym owner who refused to shut his gym during the October ...
Latest News
This year's UK government Spending Review, announced in Parliament by chancellor Rishi Sunak on 25 ...
Latest News
Up to 100k people will benefit from the free gym and physical activity sessions, thanks ...
Latest News
To the relief of the sector, the UK government confirmed yesterday (23 November) that gyms, ...
Latest News
Closing gyms and leisure facilities during any possible future lockdown would be "unthinkable", according to ...
Latest News
The University of Stirling has opened its new £20m sports and fitness centre. The building, ...
Latest News
Gyms are right near the bottom of the list in terms of places people have ...
Latest News
A new, Europe-wide initiative will look to chart the level of risk of COVID-19 infection ...
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UK Parliament will debate COVID-19 restrictions on gyms and leisure centres on Monday 23 November, ...
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The UK government has launched a £1bn Public Sector Decarbonisation Scheme (PSDS), providing grant funding ...
Opinion
promotion
With January now close on the horizon your thoughts will be firmly focused on sales campaigns to attract new members through your doors in the new year rush.
Opinion: Sealing the Leaky Bucket – 7 Research-Based Tips for Retaining New Members in January 2021
Featured supplier news
Featured supplier: Red Light Rising teams up with ITRM Clinic to supply red light therapy for injured athletes
Red light therapy equipment supplier, Red Light Rising, has partnered with Aidan Robinson of ITRM Clinic in the UK
Featured supplier news
Featured supplier: Dr Paul Bedford announces Retention Convention will go virtual for 2020
Global retention expert, Dr Paul Bedford, will host his sixth annual Retention Convention virtually, bringing together global speakers to form a documentary-style event around turning customers into communities.
Video Gallery
Freemotion CoachBike™
FreeMotion Fitness
Give your members the immersive cycling experience that keeps your members engaged – today and tomorrow. Read more
More videos:
Company profiles
Company profile: Healthcheck Services Ltd
Here at Healthcheck Services, we want to empower you, your clients & your staff to ...
Company profiles
Company profile: EMD UK
EMD UK is the national governing body for group exercise. Funded by Sport England, EMD ...
Catalogue Gallery
Click on a catalogue to view it online
Directory
Gym flooring
REGUPOL/Berleburger Schaumstoffwerk (BSW): Gym flooring
Fitness equipment
TRX Training: Fitness equipment
Spa software
SpaBooker: Spa software
Management software
fibodo Limited: Management software
Locking solutions
Monster Padlocks: Locking solutions
Skincare
Comfort Zone - Davines S.p.A: Skincare
Hydrotherapy / spa fragrances
Kemitron GmbH: Hydrotherapy / spa fragrances
Member feedback software
AskNicely: Member feedback software
Trade associations
International SPA Association - iSPA: Trade associations
Fitness Software
FunXtion International BV: Fitness Software
Property & Tenders
11 - 25 Union St, London SE1 1SD
Bankside Open Spaces Trust
Property & Tenders
Waltham Abbey, Essex
Lee Valley Regional Park Authority
Property & Tenders
Diary dates
03-03 Dec 2020
Virtual,
Diary dates
09 Dec 2020
Raffles City Convention Centre, Singapore, Singapore
Diary dates
02-04 Feb 2021
Ericsson Exhibition Hall, Ricoh Arena, Coventry, United Kingdom
Diary dates
23-26 Feb 2021
IFEMA, Madrid, Spain
Diary dates
03-04 Mar 2021
NEC, Birmingham, United Kingdom
Diary dates
03-06 Jun 2021
Expo Centre & Riviera di Rimini, Italy
Diary dates
16-17 Jun 2021
ExCeL London, London, United Kingdom
Diary dates
01-07 Dec 2022
tbc, Dunedin, New Zealand
Diary dates
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