Supporting community health, wellbeing and getting business back on track remains the key priority for Government as we move beyond the Covid pandemic.
According to Deputy Leader of the Opposition David Southwick MP who spoke yesterday from Body Fit Training St Kilda, the current State Government has consistently overlooked and neglected Victoria’s fitness sector.
The impact of this is not just on the many businesses and people employed in the industry but more importantly the long-term mental health and wellbeing of our communities who have historically used exercise and physical activity to manage their mental health and overall wellbeing.
Mr Southwick said:
“The Victorian Government needs to take responsibility for its handling of the fitness industry during Covid. The government’s failure to present health advice justifying that Victorian gyms are a hotbed of virus transmission were damaging to the industry and the communities’ desire return to the gym when facilities reopened.”
“What the Government needs to do now is have a plan that provides certainty and support to businesses and people employed in the health, fitness and wellbeing sectors to help them get back on their feet, boost memberships and most important get more our communities active again for their mental health and wellbeing.”
Data by Australia’s leading fitness association, AUSactive, in 2020 found 6.26 million check-ins across 423 gyms in a 2-month period resulted in no recorded transmission. After gyms reopened the second time, additional data from more than 1,200 locations showed the chance of being infected in a fitness facility was a meagre 0.00008%.
By deeming health and wellness facilities such as gyms and group fitness studios as an essential service will ensure people can still access these vital services to support their overall wellbeing without interruption. Earlier this year the Queensland Government took this crucial step when rolling out it’s vaccine mandates.
Earlier this month, Mr Southwick tabled in Parliament the plight of the fitness industry highlighting more needed to be done to get people back to fitness facilities.
Mr Southwick said:
“We’ve had incentive vouchers to get people back to restaurants, cafes and entertainment venues but if we are serious about the State’s long-term recovery from Covid we need to look at incentivising people to get active again.”
Recent research by Deakin University commissioned by AUSactive identified prior to COVID-19 lockdowns, 51% of exercise-based energy expenditure by Australians over the age of fifteen came from physical activity in fitness centres and via personal trainers, 29% came via sporting activities, and 20% via other types of exercise.
AUSactive CEO Barrie Elvish said the same research showed the arrival of COVID-19 in 2020 resulted in a 60% decline in national exercise levels due to lockdowns and the consequent lack of access to fitness centres and studios.
Mr Elvish said:
“A large number of businesses are still struggling to survive, and many did not reopen post-Covid due to the financial impact of extensive lockdowns. Incentives that encourage people to join their local facility or take a dance, Yoga or Pilates class would be a huge drawcard and motivation to get active again.”
Off the back of Mr Southwick’s comments in Parliament Mr Elvish said AUSactive has long been advocating for the vital role the health and fitness industry plays in the long-term health of the nation.
Mr Elvish said:
“Since the beginning of the pandemic, AUSactive has been working with governments right across Australia to have the health and fitness industry recognised for the important role it plays in the health of all Australians.”
“The introduction of incentive vouchers to get people back to the fitness facilities, not only for the economic survival of the industry, but to kick-start pandemic-induced sedentary behaviour would be a win for everyone.”
AUSactive economic modelling conducted as part of the independent research with Deakin University found:
- 44% of Australians indicate that financial incentives will help get them back into exercise sooner post-COVID
- 44% of Australians say that exercising is more important to them now that they are not actively commuting to work as much as they did before COVID-19
- A ‘fitness voucher’ incentive that encourages Australians to get physically active via fitness centres and personal trainers will provide health and economic benefits to the value of A$2.9B
Mr Southwick said the AUSactive modelling showed financial incentives for all Victorians to get active would have a return on investment to the Victorian Government of more than $3 for every dollar spent through savings to the Health Budget and the hip pocket of Victorian taxpayers.
Mr Southwick said:
“AUSactive economic modelling shows the return on investment to the health system from a fitness incentive and/or voucher would be $3.11 per person for each $1 spent, should eligible Australians aged 20-79 be offered a $100 voucher.”
“The result would be healthier Victorians, healthier finances for our struggling health system and the survival of an industry whose sole priority is our health and wellbeing.”
Read more about AUSactive in the Gym Click Media Newsroom