2020 has undoubtedly been one of the most challenging years to be in business. Some industries have been decimated more than others, and fitness is certainly in this category, particularly in Victoria.
What started out as a year filled with huge potential, planning the celebration of our 20th anniversary in business, soon became a nightmare and a fight for survival. The first lockdown was a shock for everyone, but at least we could see the need for drastic action to control the pandemic.
But that was back in March, and now nine months down the track the fitness industry in Victoria is finally attempting to get back on its feet, having to fight for the right to support the health of Victorians. The fitness industry is a key component in the physical and mental health of Victorians and it remains baffling as to why the Victorian government refused to acknowledge this fact.
Around Australia, the fitness industry returned to successful operation back in May/June, with successful COVID-19 protocols to protect clients and staff. Victorian businesses were not permitted to resume operations until 9 November, despite desperate pleas from the public, medical professionals and the business sector.
The fitness industry is actually the most accessible source of physical and mental wellbeing for Australians. There is such a diverse range of activities available across the age groups that ensure access to professional support to improve our health.
Governments have pushed funding into mental health services but the waitlists for services such as psychology and counselling are at impossible levels. Fitness facilities can support the transition back to physical and mental health by providing exercise, connection and community support. Social isolation has been incredibly damaging during the pandemic, for all sectors of the community. The best way to reverse this trend is encourage everyone to get back out exercising in a safe and supportive environment.
That is what the fitness industry does best. As an industry, we are focused on supporting the health of Australians and providing safe and fun options to exercise. Research supports the positive outcomes for our physical and mental health from exercise and its not just strong bodies, it’s also strong minds.
Driving a strong and united industry forward will ensure high-quality standards across Australia. This is a priority to improve perception of our industry as this pandemic has illustrated that the fitness sector can continue to provide safe options for exercise in every other state around the nation. Victorian fitness businesses have had to fight for survival, and there will be many that may not.
The fitness sector is a diverse and vibrant part of the Australian economy. Our biggest lesson from 2020 needs to be that the one thing none of us can take for granted is our health. Let’s focus on making our health the number one priority as we look forward to moving into the realm of 2021 with a view of optimism and positivity.
Jane Kilkenny, Founder, Fitness Energy