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ED ITO R’ S LE T TER

An economic argument

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any of you will be aware that HCM has been driving a Parliamentary Petition with two demands – to get gyms open first after lockdown and for the government to fund a Work Out to Help Out scheme to get people back to fitness (if you’ve been supporting it, a huge thank you. The response has been tremendous). And so my heart sank when UK prime minister Boris Johnson instead hinted at plans for the government to reduce taxation on beer, so people could get drunk more cheaply after lockdown. If this kind of populism was accompanied by a commitment to rebooting the fitness of the nation, it would just about be bearable, but for the government to be considering pushing cheap beer, without there being sufficient focus on health and prevention, shows an appalling lack of leadership in the middle of a health crisis. The mental and physical health impacts of lockdowns have been well documented – the increases in sedentary behaviour and obesity levels, reductions in fitness and escalation of mental health issues – but what lies behind these numbers is even more serious: a catastrophic rewiring of people’s behaviour patterns and a bedding in of sedentary routines that will be challenging to reverse. It will require a huge effort to overcome the inertia of successive lockdowns and getting the nation moving again will be like restarting an oil tanker. A Work Out to Help Out subsidy would accelerate this process, enabling the fitness industry to deliver results far more quickly. Tactically, we’ve made a very strong case as a sector for the health benefits of activity, with a £4 gain to the NHS for every £1 invested, but we think it’s now time to also start lobbying around the economic value of having a fit nation. There are clearly vast economic challenges ahead as a result of the perfect storm of the pandemic and Brexit, meaning the health and vitality of the nation is critical to ensuring the workforce is ready and able to respond. A sluggish workforce will not be able to compete effectively, so there’s a strong argument for the health and fitness sector in the UK to have a portfolio link to the +4 4 (0)1462 431385

W W W.HCMmag.COM

PHOTO: SHUTTERSTOCK/ BAZA PRODUCTION

In addition to championing the health benefits of activity, the sector must now start to emphasise its power to drive the economy if we are to gain the policy support we need

A fit workforce is needed to drive the economy

There’s a strong argument for the sector to be connected to the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, in addition to the connection which already exists with the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport. The hospitality sector has this two-ministry set-up and has achieved notable successes as a result of being thoroughly understood as a business sector. We should demand no less for the rapidly-expanding activity sector. We provide mission-critical services which underpin the health of the nation, its happiness, vitality and economic prosperity and it’s time this was properly recognised. To accelerate this process, we must now also produce evidence of the economic value of activity to the nation. Liz Terry, editor lizterry@leisuremedia.com

HCM@LEISUREMEDIA .COM

W W W.LEISURESUBS.COM ©Cybertrek 2021 February 2021

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Profile for Leisure Media

HCM February 2021  

HCM is the magazine and online community for decision-makers in the global health club, fitness and gym industry.

HCM February 2021  

HCM is the magazine and online community for decision-makers in the global health club, fitness and gym industry.

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