Just as the gym of today is far different from the barbell club of the past, COVID-19 will change the fitness gym of today into the health club of tomorrow. A health club will view fitness more from a medical perspective: exercise is medicine; food is medicine; social interaction is medicine.
Health clubs will be disrupters of the diet industry, much like Uber and Lyft have changed the taxi industry forever. Health clubs offer the total solution for weight control: exercise encouragement, nutritional guidance, and accountability.
Health clubs will become integrated with the healthcare system. More and more insurance plans include fitness memberships. Organizations such as Adventist Health, Kaiser Permanente, and Dignity Health will either operate or contract with health clubs, utilizing technology to give the individual more involvement and more responsibility for their personal well-being.
Medical Fitness Health Clubs that offer programs such as diabetes prevention and immune system health will minimize the risks of pandemics such as COVID-19. Medical fitness facilities that are members of the National Medical Fitness Association are overseen by physicians and include a certified medical fitness director. The Kern County Public Health Services Department recently deemed that physician-directed members of the Medical Fitness Association are "essential" and therefore allowed to be open.
Gyms have been one of the hardest-hit industries in the COVID-19 crisis. This is extremely unfortunate because the fitness industry has seen no tracing data that indicates that gyms, clubs, or studios in the United States are contributing to the spread of the virus. Actually, a study conducted at the University of Oslo, Norway, found that individuals who worked out at a gym were no more likely to contract the coronavirus than those who didn't.
IHRSA, the leading fitness club association worldwide, dispatched an open letter to all 50 governors pointing out that clubs produce a positive impact on public health, and, by virtue of their strong response to the current crisis, remain safe. Three national chains in Minnesota led a movement arguing that "fitness and wellness are essential, not optional."
Terry Delamater is a registered pharmacist and owner of Sculpt365 Health Clubs with locations in Tehachapi and Oildale.