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Julien Bertherat, Personal Trainer.

There have been many things that we in the fitness sector have learned from the health crisis lockdown. The first is that the modern gym environment, with its facilities and social elements, may not be as central to the fitness lifestyle of its members as gym owners may like to think. I have been struck recently by have imaginatively clients and colleagues have been in maintaining their fitness and health while being barred from access to their local gym. Exercising indoors with limited space or outside (with no such limitations), and moving from weights and heavy resistance to more rounded and flexible exercise is working well for many more people than perhaps they would have thought before the current crisis began. Plus, having moved away from their gym, many people are discovering just how convenient it is to exercise locally, in a park (or indeed their garage!) than in a gym that may be near their place of work, as well as saving money on making this change. It is a curious moment in history when so many are confined to their homes that they discover they are so liberated, but there it is! The important thing at this point of the lockdown, with restrictions now being lifted, is to consider one element in this mix which may not appear to be so pressing alongside such issues, which is the question of motivation. When denied access to part of one's social or professional life deemed previously to be so important, people tend to improvise (and, generally, improvise successfully). Thus, the park workout boom that many parts of the country have experienced as of late. But when that denial of service is lifted, such improvisation may start to drift, as it is no longer needed. For myself, as a personal trainer that has been in the business for the past 10 years, the positives and negatives of the contemporary gym environment are clear. But what is also obvious is the role that a gym can play in structuring, but also motivating people to maintain a fitness lifestyle. This is partly down to the nature of the place and those who inhabit it, but it is also about the financial dimension. Tempting as it may be to save on gym membership, the fact is that simply by paying regularly for it one is motivated to make use of this investment when exercising and getting fit. If members are not making use of their membership they should give it up. But, where such paid membership does provide the membership and structure people need to regularly attend and take value from the investment, it does make sense and gives a benefit. The gyms will shortly be re-opening. This may be in a matter of weeks or months, but it is coming. Thus, thinking ahead and balancing the pros' and cons' of gym membership now makes sense before the point of decision comes when members (or, indeed, ex-members) have to consider whether to return when those doors open. Consider the options and the consequences of such decision-making wisely.


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