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
HID Global
HID Global
HID Global
Health Club Management

Health Club Management

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
UNITING THE WORLD OF FITNESS
Get the latest news, jobs and features in your inbox
Health Club Management

Health Club Management

News

Parliamentary debate: it's 'unthinkable' gyms could be forced to close during future lockdowns, say MPs, but minister is non-committal

Closing gyms and leisure facilities during any possible future lockdown would be "unthinkable", according to Catherine McKinnell, MP for Newcastle upon Tyne North.

McKinnell – in her role as chair of the petitions committee – was speaking at today's (23 November) Parliamentary debate on gyms and sport, which was called following a Parliamentary petition that attracted more than 614,000 signatures.

During 90-minute debate, a number of MPs made statements, put questions and gave evidence to sports minister Nigel Huddleston, who stubbornly refused to confirm that gyms would stay open during potential future lockdowns – despite evidence suggesting that they are safe, controlled spaces.

The debate took place at the same time as the government announced – in the main chamber of the house just metres away – that gyms, health clubs and leisure centres will be able to open their doors when the current lockdown measures in England come to an end on 2 December, to the great relief of the sector.

However, MPs were intent on making the case for gyms and on securing some guarantees that gyms and sports facilities' futures would be secure.

McKinnell said: "It is hugely concerning that we aren't getting any certainty from the government that the re-opening of gyms will be long-lasting.

"I appreciate that none of us can predict this virus and the outcome of how things will go, but one of the lessons we've learned is that for people to stay fit, active and healthy is absolutely fundamental.

"It's not a 'nice to have'. It's not just a leisure activity, it's a fundamental part of people's health, their mental wellbeing and their ability to stay resilient and resistant to this virus," she said.

"I had hoped to hear much more clarity from the minister that any of the relaxing of restrictions that is being announced today (23 November) will not mean that in January, potentially, the facilities will have to close again.

"It's unthinkable, to be perfectly honest," she said.

"The average weight gain among my constituents during the first lockdown was 18lbs," said McKinnell. "People are motivated to join the gym in January and it would be catastrophic if gyms are shut then – many of them will have to close their doors permanently."

MPs that spoke in support of gyms staying open during future lockdowns included Jane Hunt, who said gyms and sports facilities must "start from a basic presumption of being open", and Nick Smith, who argued that sport and physical activity "has to be a fundamental part of the recovery and not an afterthought".

Perhaps the most significant revelation, however, was made by Conservative MP and former business secretary Greg Clark.

Clark suggested that the government's original decision to close gyms wasn't based on specific advice from leading scientists.

"Sport will be coming back and that is a very welcome development, but it still begs the question as to why it was cancelled in the first place," he said.

"The one thing we know about sport and exercise is that there is scarcely anything better in terms of a defence against COVID-19, whether that is practiced by older people or children, so having a comprehensive ban on an activity that helps guard against COVID-19 is a mystery.

"The fact that for the last month, activity has been suppressed for no good reason is something we need to learn the lessons of and prevent happening in the future," said Clark.

"On the Government's Science and Technology Committee that I chair," he said, "We know that Professor Whitty and Sir Patrick Vallance both commented on the low risk of infection from outdoor sport and its very low impact on the R rate.

"One of the things they said that concerned me is that their advice [to the government on COVID-19 measures] was given at a general level – a strategic level – and they didn't give specific advice on activities like sport [or gyms].

"That concerns me because there is evidence from the participation in this debate that this is something that is of great importance to our constituents.

"I respect the expertise of our leading scientists, but we need to have the ability to influence these decisions and scrutinise the evidence that's being used to cause lockdowns and not just have to accept a fait accompli," said Clark.

"I hope the minister will take from this debate that in future it will be possible to share with ministers the evidence on which decisions are made," he concluded.

Angela Eagle used her time on the floor to champion the transformative effect of the fitness sector.

"There's another consideration when dealing of health conditions which are helped by going to the gym," Eagle told Huddleston.

"I'd like to mention Thea Holden, a constituent of mine who suffers from Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, which results in multiple joint dislocations.

"She was confined to a wheelchair and on was on medication, prior to discovering that the disease could be managed by gym-going.

"She is now wheelchair free and drug-free as a result of the work she did – and runs her own gym – EmpoweredFit," said Eagle.

Huddleston seemed largely unmoved by the passionate representation, reading out a prepared statement in which he confirmed that no sector-by-sector analysis had been done to determine government strategy during lockdowns and that the general opinion of the government was that "We all needed to sacrifice doing the thing we would like to do for a short period of time", regardless of whether they were safe.

In response to the MPs tide of questions regarding a range of types of physical activity, including swimming, gyms, golf, tennis, parkrun and football, Huddleston said: "There have been calls for exemptions to restrictions, with some giving plausible reasons, but we have heard this from gyms, swimming, tennis, golf etc etc," effectively indicating that too many people had given good reasons.

"This long list exemplifies why we've had problems, because when you unpick one thing the whole wall falls down," he said, effectively indicating that the government would rather close everything, regardless of whether there is any evidence for doing so, rather than be more forensic.

Huddleston acknowledged the problems brought about by the closures, saying: "We know that closing these gyms and sports facilities has damaged people's health, but it has saved lives and that has made it worth it."

HCM editor, Liz Terry said: "It was very moving to see so many MPs coming out to represent the gym, sports and physical activity sector – especially on the day we found out that gyms can reopen in December.

"However, in the face of such genuine and heartfelt passion from MPs and their real-world evidence of the impact exercise has on people's lives, it was painful to watch Nigel Huddleston floundering around and refusing to answer logical questions about why the physical activity sector has been locked down.

"He could not satisfactorily answer the challenges and fell back on reading out a government statement.

"I hope this matter will be pursued, as Giles Clark raised a very important point about accountability and the advice given by SAGE scientists that needs to be answered.

"If the government tries to lock the gyms sector down again, I don't believe operators will be so obliging as they have been during these firsts two lockdowns," said Terry. "We expect legal action would be taken and for a large group of operators from across the sector to pursue the government for millions of pounds of damages."

• The parliamentary debate is viewable in its entirety on Parliament Live TV – click here to access the website.

Sign up here to get HCM's weekly ezine and every issue of HCM magazine free on digital.
Closing gyms and leisure facilities during any possible future lockdown would be "unthinkable", according to Catherine McKinnell, MP for Newcastle upon Tyne North.
PTS,SAR,PLY,WAT,HAF,FIT,IND,PUB
2020/THUMB346682_19034_155911.jpg
Latest News
Gymbox has entered the hospitality space with the signing of a deal to deliver in-room ...
Latest News
Nuffield Health has launched a series of free, online classes focused on emotional wellbeing. The ...
Latest News
HCM editor, Liz Terry, has launched a Parliamentary Petition calling for gyms to be in ...
Latest News
Resistance training is just as beneficial for men and women over the age of 50, ...
Latest News
Fitness, sport and leisure sector professionals who have continued to deliver services to their communities ...
Latest News
A national survey has launched to chart the mental health of the fitness and physical ...
Latest News
One of England's highest ranking police officers has called on government ministers to clearly define ...
Latest News
Virtuagym, a leading provider of fitness technology for gyms and trainers, has announced the launch ...
HCM Magazine
Sponsored
Technogym introduced live and on-demand functionality to Mywellness in July. Here we find out more about operators who have adopted this solution
HCM Magazine
Local leisure
HCM talks to policy makers, operators and decision-makers about the public sector and trust response to the pandemic
HCM Magazine
Supplier showcase
Bulmershe Leisure Centre, run by Places Leisure, is providing its community with state-of-the-art fitness machines from Octane Fitness
HCM Magazine
Sponsored
Andy Hall, COO of data and tech solutions brand, Volution, looks at the trends we can expect to see emerging in the global fitness market in 2021
HCM Magazine
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
Sponsored
Ruskin Fitness Club has transformed its gym in partnership with Technogym, adding the new Excite Live line, as well as dedicated workout zones
HCM Magazine
Letters
Power Plate UK's Davide Ferreira and Stuart Stokes from ReferAll write to HCM
HCM Magazine
HCM magazine
How Virtuagym and Thebodycontent created an ecosystem of fitness within a small community
HCM magazine
This was a year when research helped transformed the gym sector into a serious political force. Two pieces of work stand out in terms of timely impact
HCM magazine
We’ve stepped off the path this month to bring you a special 2020 review edition of HCM and to propose emerging priorities going forward, as we gird our loins to tackle 2021
FREE WEBINAR
promotion
This free webinar on 26 January will see our panellists reflect on the changes to work in 2020, and their priorities for 2021.
Opinion: 2021 is the year to prioritise global culture
Featured supplier news
Featured supplier: Cryotherapy specialists, L&R Kältetechnik, launch new artofcryo.com division
L&R Kältetechnik has launched a new division, named artofcryo.com, after 30 years’ experience with -110 °C electrical solutions.
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.
Video Gallery
CPASE creates unforgettable luxury member experience at new boutique club with Technogym
Technogym
Technogym has equipped Clare Stobart's new boutique health club – CPASE. Read more
More videos:
Company profiles
Company profile: Wexer
Our mission at Wexer is to make world-class exercise accessible to everyone by harnessing the ...
Company profiles
Company profile: Fisikal Limited
Fisikal helps fitness professionals, operators and education organisations improve efficiencies and service through its online ...
Supplier Showcases
Supplier showcase - Egym: Game changer
Catalogue Gallery
Click on a catalogue to view it online
Directory
Independent service & maintenance
Servicesport UK Limited: Independent service & maintenance
Whole body cryotherapy
Art of Cryo: Whole body cryotherapy
Fitness Software
FunXtion International BV: Fitness Software
Spa software
SpaBooker: Spa software
Fitness equipment
Octane Fitness: Fitness equipment
Member feedback software
AskNicely: Member feedback software
Trade associations
International SPA Association - iSPA: Trade associations
Management software
fibodo Limited: Management software
Red Light Therapy
 Red Light Rising: Red Light Therapy
Wearable technology solutions
MyZone: Wearable technology solutions
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
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
21-24 Sep 2021
Messe Stuttgart, Germany
Diary dates
01-07 Dec 2022
tbc, Dunedin, New Zealand
Diary dates

News

Parliamentary debate: it's 'unthinkable' gyms could be forced to close during future lockdowns, say MPs, but minister is non-committal

Closing gyms and leisure facilities during any possible future lockdown would be "unthinkable", according to Catherine McKinnell, MP for Newcastle upon Tyne North.

McKinnell – in her role as chair of the petitions committee – was speaking at today's (23 November) Parliamentary debate on gyms and sport, which was called following a Parliamentary petition that attracted more than 614,000 signatures.

During 90-minute debate, a number of MPs made statements, put questions and gave evidence to sports minister Nigel Huddleston, who stubbornly refused to confirm that gyms would stay open during potential future lockdowns – despite evidence suggesting that they are safe, controlled spaces.

The debate took place at the same time as the government announced – in the main chamber of the house just metres away – that gyms, health clubs and leisure centres will be able to open their doors when the current lockdown measures in England come to an end on 2 December, to the great relief of the sector.

However, MPs were intent on making the case for gyms and on securing some guarantees that gyms and sports facilities' futures would be secure.

McKinnell said: "It is hugely concerning that we aren't getting any certainty from the government that the re-opening of gyms will be long-lasting.

"I appreciate that none of us can predict this virus and the outcome of how things will go, but one of the lessons we've learned is that for people to stay fit, active and healthy is absolutely fundamental.

"It's not a 'nice to have'. It's not just a leisure activity, it's a fundamental part of people's health, their mental wellbeing and their ability to stay resilient and resistant to this virus," she said.

"I had hoped to hear much more clarity from the minister that any of the relaxing of restrictions that is being announced today (23 November) will not mean that in January, potentially, the facilities will have to close again.

"It's unthinkable, to be perfectly honest," she said.

"The average weight gain among my constituents during the first lockdown was 18lbs," said McKinnell. "People are motivated to join the gym in January and it would be catastrophic if gyms are shut then – many of them will have to close their doors permanently."

MPs that spoke in support of gyms staying open during future lockdowns included Jane Hunt, who said gyms and sports facilities must "start from a basic presumption of being open", and Nick Smith, who argued that sport and physical activity "has to be a fundamental part of the recovery and not an afterthought".

Perhaps the most significant revelation, however, was made by Conservative MP and former business secretary Greg Clark.

Clark suggested that the government's original decision to close gyms wasn't based on specific advice from leading scientists.

"Sport will be coming back and that is a very welcome development, but it still begs the question as to why it was cancelled in the first place," he said.

"The one thing we know about sport and exercise is that there is scarcely anything better in terms of a defence against COVID-19, whether that is practiced by older people or children, so having a comprehensive ban on an activity that helps guard against COVID-19 is a mystery.

"The fact that for the last month, activity has been suppressed for no good reason is something we need to learn the lessons of and prevent happening in the future," said Clark.

"On the Government's Science and Technology Committee that I chair," he said, "We know that Professor Whitty and Sir Patrick Vallance both commented on the low risk of infection from outdoor sport and its very low impact on the R rate.

"One of the things they said that concerned me is that their advice [to the government on COVID-19 measures] was given at a general level – a strategic level – and they didn't give specific advice on activities like sport [or gyms].

"That concerns me because there is evidence from the participation in this debate that this is something that is of great importance to our constituents.

"I respect the expertise of our leading scientists, but we need to have the ability to influence these decisions and scrutinise the evidence that's being used to cause lockdowns and not just have to accept a fait accompli," said Clark.

"I hope the minister will take from this debate that in future it will be possible to share with ministers the evidence on which decisions are made," he concluded.

Angela Eagle used her time on the floor to champion the transformative effect of the fitness sector.

"There's another consideration when dealing of health conditions which are helped by going to the gym," Eagle told Huddleston.

"I'd like to mention Thea Holden, a constituent of mine who suffers from Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, which results in multiple joint dislocations.

"She was confined to a wheelchair and on was on medication, prior to discovering that the disease could be managed by gym-going.

"She is now wheelchair free and drug-free as a result of the work she did – and runs her own gym – EmpoweredFit," said Eagle.

Huddleston seemed largely unmoved by the passionate representation, reading out a prepared statement in which he confirmed that no sector-by-sector analysis had been done to determine government strategy during lockdowns and that the general opinion of the government was that "We all needed to sacrifice doing the thing we would like to do for a short period of time", regardless of whether they were safe.

In response to the MPs tide of questions regarding a range of types of physical activity, including swimming, gyms, golf, tennis, parkrun and football, Huddleston said: "There have been calls for exemptions to restrictions, with some giving plausible reasons, but we have heard this from gyms, swimming, tennis, golf etc etc," effectively indicating that too many people had given good reasons.

"This long list exemplifies why we've had problems, because when you unpick one thing the whole wall falls down," he said, effectively indicating that the government would rather close everything, regardless of whether there is any evidence for doing so, rather than be more forensic.

Huddleston acknowledged the problems brought about by the closures, saying: "We know that closing these gyms and sports facilities has damaged people's health, but it has saved lives and that has made it worth it."

HCM editor, Liz Terry said: "It was very moving to see so many MPs coming out to represent the gym, sports and physical activity sector – especially on the day we found out that gyms can reopen in December.

"However, in the face of such genuine and heartfelt passion from MPs and their real-world evidence of the impact exercise has on people's lives, it was painful to watch Nigel Huddleston floundering around and refusing to answer logical questions about why the physical activity sector has been locked down.

"He could not satisfactorily answer the challenges and fell back on reading out a government statement.

"I hope this matter will be pursued, as Giles Clark raised a very important point about accountability and the advice given by SAGE scientists that needs to be answered.

"If the government tries to lock the gyms sector down again, I don't believe operators will be so obliging as they have been during these firsts two lockdowns," said Terry. "We expect legal action would be taken and for a large group of operators from across the sector to pursue the government for millions of pounds of damages."

• The parliamentary debate is viewable in its entirety on Parliament Live TV – click here to access the website.

Sign up here to get HCM's weekly ezine and every issue of HCM magazine free on digital.
Closing gyms and leisure facilities during any possible future lockdown would be "unthinkable", according to Catherine McKinnell, MP for Newcastle upon Tyne North.
PTS,SAR,PLY,WAT,HAF,FIT,IND,PUB
2020/THUMB346682_19034_155911.jpg

News

Gymbox has entered the hospitality space with the signing of a deal to deliver in-room
Nuffield Health has launched a series of free, online classes focused on emotional wellbeing. The
HCM editor, Liz Terry, has launched a Parliamentary Petition calling for gyms to be in
Resistance training is just as beneficial for men and women over the age of 50,
Fitness, sport and leisure sector professionals who have continued to deliver services to their communities
A national survey has launched to chart the mental health of the fitness and physical
Volution.fit
Volution.fit
Core Health & Fitness is proud to have signed an exclusive supplier agreement for the
One of England's highest ranking police officers has called on government ministers to clearly define
Virtuagym, a leading provider of fitness technology for gyms and trainers, has announced the launch
Fitness First has launched a new free digital fitness hub, offering users a wide range
The Gym Group has brought in Rio Ferdinand and Wais Shaifta as non-executive directors, signalling
As the global vaccine rollout brings reopening closer and heralds the end of lockdowns, jostling
Less than half (44.9 per cent) of children and young people in England met the
MyZone Group Ltd
MyZone Group Ltd
In collaboration with ukactive, FunXtion has driven a global discussion with some of the world’s
An England-wide survey of over 5,000 adults found that 80 per cent of people aged
The government needs to provide the fitness and physical activity sector with a plan which
Book4Time, a leading cloud-based business management solution for the global hospitality, spa and wellness industry,
Some Brits drop their exercise habits, eat unhealthily and drink more alcohol during lockdowns, according
New year, new celeb workout as Mark ‘Bez’ Berry announces the launch of his own
Frasers Group will open three new regional flagship Flannels-branded retail stores during 2021 – each
Miha Bodytec GmbH
Miha Bodytec GmbH
The world has had to get used to social distancing in 2020 and any business
The closing of gyms, leisure centres and swimming pools under COVID-19 restrictions is costing the
The UK physical activity sector will lose around £400m a month during lockdown. The figure,
fibodo Limited
fibodo Limited
1 - 20 of 11,751
HCM Magazine
Sponsored
Technogym introduced live and on-demand functionality to Mywellness in July. Here we find out more about operators who have adopted this solution
HCM Magazine
Local leisure
HCM talks to policy makers, operators and decision-makers about the public sector and trust response to the pandemic
HCM Magazine
Supplier showcase
Bulmershe Leisure Centre, run by Places Leisure, is providing its community with state-of-the-art fitness machines from Octane Fitness
HCM Magazine
Sponsored
Andy Hall, COO of data and tech solutions brand, Volution, looks at the trends we can expect to see emerging in the global fitness market in 2021
HCM Magazine
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
Sponsored
Ruskin Fitness Club has transformed its gym in partnership with Technogym, adding the new Excite Live line, as well as dedicated workout zones
HCM Magazine
Letters
Power Plate UK's Davide Ferreira and Stuart Stokes from ReferAll write to HCM
HCM Magazine
HCM magazine
How Virtuagym and Thebodycontent created an ecosystem of fitness within a small community
HCM magazine
This was a year when research helped transformed the gym sector into a serious political force. Two pieces of work stand out in terms of timely impact
HCM magazine
We’ve stepped off the path this month to bring you a special 2020 review edition of HCM and to propose emerging priorities going forward, as we gird our loins to tackle 2021
HCM magazine
High quality user experience and good value for the operator. This is the winning formula behind an expanding Physical Company product range, says James Anderson
HCM magazine
Nu Physio and Fitness has placed Egym at the heart of its protection and prevention model
HCM magazine
Given its support for the NHS, should the fitness industry be classified as an essential service, and if so, how do we get the sector reclassified? Kath Hudson asks industry leaders for their views
HCM magazine
HCM People

Harley Pasternak

Trainer and author
Having someone just feeling comfortable walking into the gym is important
HCM magazine
We’re creating a health club environment where physical, digital and human systems come together to create an enhanced user experience
HCM magazine
The science shows being fit mitigates against COVID-19. We’ve proven we can operate safely under the SAGE COVID-secure Framework. Time to join it up by securing essential service status
HCM magazine
FREE WEBINAR
promotion
This free webinar on 26 January will see our panellists reflect on the changes to work in 2020, and their priorities for 2021.
Opinion: 2021 is the year to prioritise global culture
Featured supplier news
Featured supplier: Cryotherapy specialists, L&R Kältetechnik, launch new artofcryo.com division
L&R Kältetechnik has launched a new division, named artofcryo.com, after 30 years’ experience with -110 °C electrical solutions.
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.
Video Gallery
CPASE creates unforgettable luxury member experience at new boutique club with Technogym
Technogym
Technogym has equipped Clare Stobart's new boutique health club – CPASE. Read more
More videos:
Company profiles
Company profile: Wexer
Our mission at Wexer is to make world-class exercise accessible to everyone by harnessing the ...
Company profiles
Company profile: Fisikal Limited
Fisikal helps fitness professionals, operators and education organisations improve efficiencies and service through its online ...
Supplier Showcases
Supplier showcase - Egym: Game changer
Catalogue Gallery
Click on a catalogue to view it online
Directory
Independent service & maintenance
Servicesport UK Limited: Independent service & maintenance
Whole body cryotherapy
Art of Cryo: Whole body cryotherapy
Fitness Software
FunXtion International BV: Fitness Software
Spa software
SpaBooker: Spa software
Fitness equipment
Octane Fitness: Fitness equipment
Member feedback software
AskNicely: Member feedback software
Trade associations
International SPA Association - iSPA: Trade associations
Management software
fibodo Limited: Management software
Red Light Therapy
 Red Light Rising: Red Light Therapy
Wearable technology solutions
MyZone: Wearable technology solutions
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
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
21-24 Sep 2021
Messe Stuttgart, Germany
Diary dates
01-07 Dec 2022
tbc, Dunedin, New Zealand
Diary dates
Search news, features & products:
Find a supplier:
HID Global
HID Global