HCM Issue 4 2022

Page 74

Insight

l a i t n e Ess & e f a S The pandemic brought about our sector’s biggest ever collaboration on COVID safety data. Lizzie Broughton tells the story

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his month, UK Active published its full report on COVID-19 safety data from the health and fitness sector in the UK, representing data gathered in relation to 240 million visits, making it the biggest data set in Europe. UK Active’s safety data reporting was launched nearly two years ago, when the UK was in the middle of its first national lockdown. As the trade body for the sector, UK Active has always championed the importance of having easily accessible physical facilities for exercise for all. In the first stages of the pandemic, early indications from Sport England’s consumer polling – with Savanta ComRes – suggested that while activity levels overall were staying constant over the lockdown, there were gaps in activity levels opening up between certain demographic groups – effectively, inequalities were growing. As we moved towards the initial reopening of facilities in July 2020 we were confident that Fit Togehter, the safety frameworks and operating procedures created by UK Active in partnership with operator members, would keep consumers safe when facilities reopened, ensuring more people could remain active and healthy and in turn, improve our nation’s resilience against the virus.

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Issue 4 2022 ©Cybertrek 2022

Gyms, leisure centres and fitness facilities all put in a huge amount of work to ensure their facilities met the new standards required. As the reopening of facilities approached on 25 July (in England), UK Active recognised the growing need to demonstrate as a sector the safety of our collective facilities. Amid a landscape of uncertainty and ever-changing restrictions over the next two years, weekly data reporting became a mainstay of the UK Active Research Institute’s work, and our evidence underpinned our public campaigning and lobbying efforts with the simple message that health and fitness facilities were ‘safe and essential’. Proving health clubs are low-risk At a time when the spotlight fell across all sectors in determining what restrictions were necessary to reduce the spread of the virus, we looked to develop a reporting mechanism that would enable us to gather on behalf of the sector the data that was needed to demonstrate that gyms and leisure centres were low-risk spaces. There were some key factors to consider. Firstly, the ease and simplicity of both our data collection and processing. At a time where operators were already under huge