We imagined a temporary gym closure was a reasonable response. That was three weeks ago, the “longest” three weeks we probably remember. In this time, the virus has blurred the finishing line. Physical distancing and lock down is firmly entrenched as the new norm. Fitness as we know it, has come to a standstill. Forecasting COVID 19 has been a failure of historic proportions.
Government shutdown has been pushed forward an additional week, till Sun 12 April. Local Council election is now to be extended by eight long months to Jan 2021.
Mid-April is no longer a finishing line by any stretch of the imagination and may take longer than we initially thought. It is therefore time to delve deeper into what a potential finishing line may look like. We can also contemplate on what is immediately possible for fitness clubs.
THE FINISHING LINE?
The finishing line is generally thought to be reached when a vaccine is available. This is estimated to take 18 months, which is late next year, and dependent on the speed with which we can find cures for the virus.
Secondly, we are learning that the finishing line is not that straightforward; it may keep changing. It is now known that communities may experience multiple peaks. The virus does not understand national borders. Peaks in one country can put economic pressure on others. For example, the peaks of Chinas and Europe wiped out our tourism industry, and supply chains have been disrupted.
Thirdly, despite no evidence of community transmission, the government has decided to keep gyms closed. They have stepped up lockdown measures with a daily curfew, obviously believing the risks of community transmission is too high.
The finishing line depends on how long we may have to practice physical distancing. It may not be too soon. In fact, there may be many finishing lines!
Let us therefore hold to the present optimistic scenario of 3 to 6 months for a partial relaxation of physical distancing. This may be the first on many finishing lines.
WHAT IS IMMEDIATELY POSSIBLE FOR FITNESS CLUBS
Going online is the only immediate option we see for fitness clubs. We must reinvent our business as COVID 19 spreads.
Unlike some countries, online fitness is not a highly developed product in the Maldives. We are working closely with our Trainers to keep in touch with our clients and offer them remote assistance. We hope to acquire the digital infrastructure to make the switch as soon as possible.
Major global fitness businesses are already making the switch, with experienced ones finding their niche. Peloton stocks spiked as the at-home fitness company finds potential customers stuck at home.
Fitness clubs in the Maldives have existed on a hand to mouth existence. Fitness is not a regulated activity, leaving clubs in a weak position to suddenly reinvent themselves as an online service. Fitness clubs are now depending on the stimulus package announced by the government. One week has passed, and we are now assured applications for government stimulus package will be open this week.
Stay Safe and Stay Fit