By Lubna Hamdan
Founder of fitness giant predicts a boom in business for health clubs as a result of the coronavirus
There are few businesses that are immune to the impact of the coronavirus. Fitness happens to be one of them, at least according to the founder and CEO of gym equipment and fitness solutions giant Technogym.
Speaking to Arabian Business, Nerio Alessandri said Covid-19 has raised awareness on the importance of fitness for personal health, and that lockdown measures will lead to higher demand once gyms reopen.
"Fitness clubs are safe," he said when asked if gyms will face closures due to coronavirus. "These lockdown [measures] have created forced physical inactivity with strong damages to people's general health. People have been gaining weight and also their mental health has not been positive, so we expect very strong demand as soon as different countries ease lockdown measures.
"I’m very positive about [fitness] clubs. People will want to go back. Of course we are in hard times at the moment and I’m worried and concerned about the hard times we’re living in right now. But I'm very positive about clubs because people will want to go back, and the big inactivity that the lockdown measures have created will reset a strong need for fitness considering there is scientific evidence on the benefit of regular exercise against diabetes, hypertension," Alessandri said.
Gyms reopened in Dubai at the end of May with limited capacity and social distancing measures, but they remain closed in emirates like Abu Dhabi. However the temporary closure of fitness centers in Dubai has led to a rise in home fitness in the city, according to the CEO of Technogym, which is present in over 100 countries around the world and serves clients ranging from Warehouse Dubai to Atlantis and Armani hotels.
"Due to isolation measures that have been put by countries, home fitness is having great momentum. People want to keep active with their lifestyle so we’re getting strong requests for home fitness products from all over the world," he said, including the Middle East, where he also expects demand for home gym products to continue.
"Home fitness is experiencing strong growth. I believe this will continue. Generally speaking people will be spending more on health and fitness and give it more importance in difference spaces including home," he said.
Alessandri argued that gyms are generally safe spaces because they guarantee social distancing, particularly when it comes to weight lifting where machines are placed meters apart.
"Compared to other spaces, [fitness] clubs will definitely be a safe space for different reasons. First of all because the equipment, the exercise and training position, guarantees social distancing. Then of course clubs are fitted with technologies that can manage access to the club, so they can guarantee a limited amount of people will be let in for the right capacity inside the club.
"And most importantly, compared to different sports activities, fitness [can be] an individual activity. So compared to other sports, there is less contact between people - it’s not like playing football where there’s a lot of contact between people. Of course I'm very concerned about the short term [impact] but very positive about the future of fitness clubs," he said.