If there is one thing that spreads faster than the new coronavirus disease (COVID-19), it is fear.
One of the most effective ways to keep this and any other pandemic under control is constant communication and a steady stream of information. It allows people to understand the disease itself, its signs and symptoms, and most importantly, preventive measures.
However, this constant consumption of content has also resulted in fear. All of a sudden, nothing, nobody and nowhere is safe. The message was simple and effective: We are all vulnerable, at varying levels of risk, and we must all do our part to keep COVID-19 from spreading.
And do our part we did. Driven by both fear and our shared sense of responsibility to ourselves, our families and our communities, we stayed home, we wore masks, we practiced social distancing. We all found ways to cope even as our favorite restaurants, malls, groceries, and yes, gyms closed to ensure we had the resources to control the spread of the virus.
When we first closed our gyms in mid-March, we were confident about our reopening prospects. In my almost three decades in the fitness industry, we have always been one of the first to bounce back from crisis, whether it’s economic or natural. I have personally seen this resilience throughout my career, and this has helped us plan and pivot as we faced the uncertainties of this pandemic.
I believe it is because people fundamentally understand that without their health, they have nothing—even if their normal, day-to-day habits say otherwise. It is the one thing you can continuously improve and rely on during a recession, a disaster, and dare I say it, even during a global pandemic. Losing our health is a shared fear we all have.
Best chance to survive
When this crisis began, one thing was clear from the beginning: those with a healthy lifestyle and a strong immune system have the best chances of surviving an infection. In the beginning, we focused on implementing preventive measures we could see—physical barriers such as masks, face shields and personal protective equipment, but one of our strongest defenses—our immune system—was relegated to the sidelines.
The immune system is strengthened primarily by a healthy diet, sufficient rest and regular exercise. While the first two are easier to achieve during a quarantine, it is not as easy for many people to get moving without the proper equipment, space, motivation and guidance, which are provided by gyms to their members.
The fitness industry, along with most other industries, had to close to ensure the safety of its members, staff and guests. As the closure extended, though, we began to have our own fears, not just for the business, but for the impact of adding an increasingly sedentary population to an already a high-risk situation—one that requires a strong immune system to beat.
Now that we have established protocols ensuring a safer environment in gyms, it is understandable that there may still be fears about going back to the gym. An even bigger fear, however, is to have weakened immune systems.
Going to the gym allows people with no equipment or knowledge to work out to meet their specific health goals and strengthen their immune system. It also allows them to interact with coaches who are qualified to keep them in proper form and help them attain reasonable goals for their current state.
Aside from the proper training and equipment, gyms have one important factor that we have all been afraid to lose: our sense of community. For many gymgoers, the gym is a place to celebrate health and milestones, share struggles and successes, and be with like-minded people who share a common goal: to be healthier. The initial reopening of other industries, such as restaurants, have shown that these aspects of health—social, mental and emotional wellness—are just as important as physical well-being. Losing these is something to be truly fearful of.
So with a sense of community, and for the first time, all gym operators in the Philippines came together to allay this fear. We worked together to establish protocols. We set aside competition for a bigger cause: to remove the fear factor and ensure the safety of our members. Together, the fitness industry is finally opening its doors and welcoming everyone back—with masks and shields, with disinfectants and sanitizers, with social distancing and enhanced cleaning protocols—because whatever your fear is, the industry is working with you to overcome it. —CONTRIBUTED INQ