Ask any gym junkie what the worst thing about 2020 has been, and they won’t say the bushfires or how difficult dating has become, they’ll probably be mad that their local gym has been forced to close their doors.
For fitness fanatics, COVID-19 has posed an existential threat. Gyms aren’t open, you can’t do group classes with a PT, and face masks are a pain in the arse if you’re huffing and puffing. In short? It’s harder to stay fit, because all normal exercise options have been affected. In particular, our sympathy goes out to those all locked down in Melbourne without home gyms or backyards.
It’s not just our physical health that’s been compromised by The Bat Kiss. The disruption to our routines and reduced social contact has also taken a toll on our mental health. According to The Black Dog Institute, as much as a third of Australians are suffering anxiety or have had their mental health impacted by this pandemic.
Maintaining your physical health is an important part of supporting one’s mental health, too. Indeed, exercise “not only impacts our physical body, but touches every area of our lives. It is a holistic approach that benefits our mental health, mood, social presence, and beyond,” Lucie Bennett, personal trainer and founder of Fitnazz relates.
In light of this fact, Fitness Australia – a not-for-profit industry association that supports the health and fitness industry – is calling on the government to give Aussies more opportunity to access exercise during These Unprecedented Times.
“We understand the importance of limiting community transmission during this second wave outbreak. However, it is vital people be allowed to continue exercise or undertake physical activity daily to help maintain their mental health and wellbeing,” Fitness Australia CEO Barrie Elvish explains.
“People can still exercise safely in their own home, in their local area, and in states and territories where gyms are open provided they follow strict social distancing and hygiene practices.”
“In fact, with the right protocols in place, it is Fitness Australia’s position that training with a personal trainer should be allowed under current restrictions in Victoria.”
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“As a fitness and health industry organisation our focus is on getting more Australians more active more often, even during COVID-19. While supporting the industry during this time, we are also focused on ensuring everyone continues to exercise regularly for their health and wellbeing – something that is more important now than ever.”
Elvish says the second wave lockdowns and continued uncertainty is impacting many people all over again, leading to a ‘rona-induced fatigue.
“Unfortunately, good decisions have unintentional consequences and in the case of enforced lockdowns and isolation, business shutdowns and job losses the mental health of many Australians has suffered,” Elvish relates.
“For example, calls to Beyond Blue’s support services have risen substantially during COVID-19… Lifeline is receiving a call every 30 seconds and saw a 22% increase in calls origination from Victoria when the recent lockdown was announced.”
Elvish also shares how many PTs have contacted him, concerned for clients who need regular exercise to manage their unique conditions.
“The almost 4 million Australians who have a gym membership know the benefits of exercise in preventing and/or managing a range of physical and mental health issues… They appreciate exercise being a regular part of their daily routine; some certainty in times of upheaval and anxiety. And of course, they enjoy the satisfaction of knowing exercise improves their personal immune system,” he concludes.
Of course, Fitness Australia is an industry body, so they have a vested interest in getting back to business as soon as possible. That said, they raise some valid points.
Fingers crossed things get a little less wild soon and we can all get back to our regular routines.