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features

Policy: Queensland: Gyms enjoy essential status

The state of Queensland in Australia gave gyms essential status following extensive collaboration with trade body Aus Active. Barrie Elvish shares the background

Published in Health Club Management 2022 issue 11

As a federated nation, all Australian states dealt with the impact of COVID-19 very differently. Responses varied from Western Australia – which blocked the entry and exit of other Australians – to Victoria, which imposed the severest, most prolonged lockdowns in the Western world.

Australian state governments, and indeed the national government, classified all indoor physical activity as occurring in a “gym”, meaning the perceptions and subsequent treatment of the sector was wildly inconsistent. In March 2019 all “gyms” were closed indefinitely, including facilities that only offered dance, Pilates, tai chi and yoga. No consideration was given to either the relative or actual risks associated with any of these different regimes.

Irrational justification
Despite credible evidence to show the low risk of COVID in gyms, what followed was an at times irrational justification for the blanket closures of all these facilities; it seemed to many that a convenient scapegoat had been identified in the form of the closure of the activity sector to enable health authorities to appear decisive and strong in their responses.

One state government stood its ground, however, as Queensland’s legislature quickly established a health-focused, cross-departmental taskforce and charged it with working with all industries to develop sector-specific COVID-19-safe protocols.

The state – home to Brisbane, the Gold Coast, the Sunshine Coast, the 2023 Olympic Games and the Great Barrier Reef – engaged constructively and expeditiously with Aus Active (under our previous guise as Fitness Australia) and worked with us to develop an appropriate code of safe practice for indoor facilities.

The consultation process worked so effectively that of all industries, fitness and exercise was the first to have its COVID-safe suggestions ratified by Queensland’s state government.

Queensland led the way
It’s worth noting that although all other states undertook some form of industry engagement, none was as comprehensive or consultative as Queensland and this state’s proactive responses have enabled Aus Active to have an ongoing dialogue with health authorities as the COVID saga has evolved over the past two years.

At this juncture, it’s important to understand that exercise, physical activity and fitness in all its iterations is compartmentalised at both Australian federal and state level under Departments of Sport and Recreation.

We are not sport, of course, but that’s a story for another time.

During the lockdowns across Australia, similar to other countries, heads of our health authorities – often flanked by politicians – frequently reminded us that we could legally only venture outside for one of four reasons, medical appointments, critical shopping, going to work – if working from home was not feasible – and outdoor exercise. Fitness or visiting the gym was not classed as a valid reason anywhere but Queensland, which stood alone in supporting the sector.

The irony of promoting the importance of exercise while shutting indoor facilities and thereby denying exercise to the 30 per cent of Australians over the age of fifteen who nominate gyms as their preferred exercise venue, seemed lost on most bureaucrats, including chief health officers.

The move to essential status
Our ongoing and productive dialogue with Queensland Health (www.health.qld.gov.au), combined with evidence-based research commissioned by Aus Active, culminated in a statement in November 2021 when Queensland’s chief health officer announced that access to gyms was ‘essential’ for Queenslanders – both vaccinated and unvaccinated – in being able to maintain good physical and mental health.

This move to essential status is a critical mindset breakthrough that needs to be leveraged nationally and we’re working hard to extend this policy to all areas of Australia.

Barrie Elvish is CEO of AUS Active and interim chair of the World Active Forum

Sign up here to get Fit Tech's weekly ezine and every issue of Fit Tech magazine free on digital.
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Xplor Gym is an all-in-one gym management software with embedded payments & integrated access control ...
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08-10 Oct 2024
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Xplor Gym is an all-in-one gym management software with embedded payments & integrated access control ...
Orbit4 is a leading FitTech brand that provides gym operators with a comprehensive software solution ...
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features

Policy: Queensland: Gyms enjoy essential status

The state of Queensland in Australia gave gyms essential status following extensive collaboration with trade body Aus Active. Barrie Elvish shares the background

Published in Health Club Management 2022 issue 11

As a federated nation, all Australian states dealt with the impact of COVID-19 very differently. Responses varied from Western Australia – which blocked the entry and exit of other Australians – to Victoria, which imposed the severest, most prolonged lockdowns in the Western world.

Australian state governments, and indeed the national government, classified all indoor physical activity as occurring in a “gym”, meaning the perceptions and subsequent treatment of the sector was wildly inconsistent. In March 2019 all “gyms” were closed indefinitely, including facilities that only offered dance, Pilates, tai chi and yoga. No consideration was given to either the relative or actual risks associated with any of these different regimes.

Irrational justification
Despite credible evidence to show the low risk of COVID in gyms, what followed was an at times irrational justification for the blanket closures of all these facilities; it seemed to many that a convenient scapegoat had been identified in the form of the closure of the activity sector to enable health authorities to appear decisive and strong in their responses.

One state government stood its ground, however, as Queensland’s legislature quickly established a health-focused, cross-departmental taskforce and charged it with working with all industries to develop sector-specific COVID-19-safe protocols.

The state – home to Brisbane, the Gold Coast, the Sunshine Coast, the 2023 Olympic Games and the Great Barrier Reef – engaged constructively and expeditiously with Aus Active (under our previous guise as Fitness Australia) and worked with us to develop an appropriate code of safe practice for indoor facilities.

The consultation process worked so effectively that of all industries, fitness and exercise was the first to have its COVID-safe suggestions ratified by Queensland’s state government.

Queensland led the way
It’s worth noting that although all other states undertook some form of industry engagement, none was as comprehensive or consultative as Queensland and this state’s proactive responses have enabled Aus Active to have an ongoing dialogue with health authorities as the COVID saga has evolved over the past two years.

At this juncture, it’s important to understand that exercise, physical activity and fitness in all its iterations is compartmentalised at both Australian federal and state level under Departments of Sport and Recreation.

We are not sport, of course, but that’s a story for another time.

During the lockdowns across Australia, similar to other countries, heads of our health authorities – often flanked by politicians – frequently reminded us that we could legally only venture outside for one of four reasons, medical appointments, critical shopping, going to work – if working from home was not feasible – and outdoor exercise. Fitness or visiting the gym was not classed as a valid reason anywhere but Queensland, which stood alone in supporting the sector.

The irony of promoting the importance of exercise while shutting indoor facilities and thereby denying exercise to the 30 per cent of Australians over the age of fifteen who nominate gyms as their preferred exercise venue, seemed lost on most bureaucrats, including chief health officers.

The move to essential status
Our ongoing and productive dialogue with Queensland Health (www.health.qld.gov.au), combined with evidence-based research commissioned by Aus Active, culminated in a statement in November 2021 when Queensland’s chief health officer announced that access to gyms was ‘essential’ for Queenslanders – both vaccinated and unvaccinated – in being able to maintain good physical and mental health.

This move to essential status is a critical mindset breakthrough that needs to be leveraged nationally and we’re working hard to extend this policy to all areas of Australia.

Barrie Elvish is CEO of AUS Active and interim chair of the World Active Forum

Sign up here to get Fit Tech's weekly ezine and every issue of Fit Tech magazine free on digital.
Gallery
More features
Editor's letter

Into the fitaverse

Fitness is already among the top three markets in the metaverse, with new technology and partnerships driving real growth and consumer engagement that looks likely to spill over into health clubs, gyms and studios
Fit Tech people

Ali Jawad

Paralympic powerlifter and founder, Accessercise
Users can easily identify which facilities in the UK are accessible to the disabled community
Fit Tech people

Hannes Sjöblad

MD, DSruptive
We want to give our users an implantable tool that allows them to collect their health data at any time and in any setting
Fit Tech people

Jamie Buck

Co-founder, Active in Time
We created a solution called AiT Voice, which turns digital data into a spoken audio timetable that connects to phone systems
Profile

Fahad Alhagbani: reinventing fitness

The team is young and ambitious, and the awareness of technology is very high. We share trends and out-of-the-box ideas almost every day
Opinion

Building on the blockchain

For small sports teams looking to compete with giants, blockchain can be a secret weapon explains Lars Rensing, CEO of Protokol
Innovation

Bold move

We ended up raising US$7m in venture capital from incredible investors, including Andreessen Horowitz, Khosla Ventures, Primetime Partners, and GingerBread Capital
App analysis

Check your form

Sency’s motion analysis technology is allowing users to check their technique as they exercise. Co-founder and CEO Gal Rotman explains how
Profile

New reality

Sam Cole, CEO of FitXR, talks to Fit Tech about taking digital workouts to the next level, with an immersive, virtual reality fitness club
Profile

Sohail Rashid

35 million people a week participate in strength training. We want Brawn to help this audience achieve their goals
Ageing

Reverse Ageing

Many apps help people track their health, but Humanity founders Peter Ward and Michael Geer have put the focus on ageing, to help users to see the direct repercussions of their habits. They talk to Steph Eaves
App analysis

Going hybrid

Workout Anytime created its app in partnership with Virtuagym. Workout Anytime’s Greg Maurer and Virtuagym’s Hugo Braam explain the process behind its creation
Research

Physical activity monitors boost activity levels

Researchers at the University of Copenhagen have conducted a meta analysis of all relevant research and found that the body of evidence shows an impact
Editor's letter

Two-way coaching

Content providers have been hugely active in the fit tech market since the start of the pandemic. We expect the industry to move on from delivering these services on a ‘broadcast-only’ basis as two-way coaching becomes the new USP
Fit Tech People

Laurent Petit

Co-founder, Active Giving
The future of sports and fitness are dependent on the climate. Our goal is to positively influence the future of our planet by instilling a global vision of wellbeing and a sense of collective action
Fit Tech People

Adam Zeitsiff

CEO, Intelivideo
We don’t just create the technology and bail – we support our clients’ ongoing hybridisation efforts
Fit Tech People

Anantharaman Pattabiraman

CEO and co-founder, Auro
When you’re undertaking fitness activities, unless you’re on a stationary bike, in most cases it’s not safe or necessary to be tied to a screen, especially a small screen
Fit Tech People

Mike Hansen

Managing partner, Endorphinz
We noticed a big gap in the market – customers needed better insights but also recommendations on what to do, whether that be customer acquisition, content creation, marketing and more
More features