I am writing to all Fitness Australia members, and the wider fitness and allied health community, to share with you what we have done to date and are planning for the future as we tackle the impact of COVID-19. The comments that follow are from me personally and not passed through any PR company or similar filter.
As previously shared, when I joined FA fifteen months ago I had no professional experience with the sector; personal experience as a gym member and long-time amateur athlete but no fitness “business” exposure.
However, I have very quickly gained an appreciation for the sector and its infectious energy and positivity. I am convinced it is these traits that will see the sector get through the current upheaval.
Today we have launched a number of initiatives that will support our AusREPS in these difficult times, they include:
- A significantly reduced membership fee including, for the first time, a 12-month option
- Access to free CEC’s via our iLearn platform to enable AusREPS to meet the relevant requirements without cost
- A “honeymoon” period to cover expired First Aid and CPR certification due to relevant courses not being available
- And we have negotiated relevant insurance to cover the above
These concessions will all be applicable until the end of this financial year, 30 June 2020, at which time we will review the situation. We are also reviewing what concessions we can make for Group Exercise Instructors and Business members but wanted to get the above initiatives out as soon as possible.
We have made the decision to not extend/suspend membership terms at this stage for one very simple reason, that is our ability to continue the advocacy and media efforts that have been so successful this month. They require ongoing funding. Our efforts have been extremely productive with an unprecedented level of media coverage both nationally and internationally.
Quantifiable successes include having our sole traders included in the most recent fiscal package and having the Prime Minister specifically refer to the importance of exercise during this time. I doubt no other PM has ever used terms such as “spin classes” or endorsed outdoor “Bootcamps” publicly at a press conference – let alone spell out Barre! These are demonstrable results from our advocacy efforts.
I am really proud that our industry has already contributed $60K to support our ongoing efforts. At Fitness Australia, we have also shed five positions this week to enable us to devote as much of our own resources to this campaign. At this juncture I need to publicly acknowledge the FA team who continue to tackle exceptional tasks with optimism.
Most importantly, the campaign will be ongoing in readiness for the re-opening of exercise facilities nationwide hopefully in the not too distant future. On this last point we are endeavouring to work with the relevant health authorities to determine what additional protocols may be required for an earlier and safe re-opening.
Next week we will begin a research project asking all members how government decisions have impacted their businesses, incomes, membership numbers etc. In preparation for a sector report to be forwarded to the government seeking specific sector recognition and support.
Over this weekend we are making public a crowd funding platform seeking support for our ‘Keep on moving’ campaign to keep Australians active and I ask you to give consideration to contributing any amount you can and share the platform throughout your networks. Imagine what we could do if all four million Australian gym members contributed just one dollar!
I am surprised and somewhat disappointed that a few fringe commentators are using the current uncertainty to criticise the Association rather than work with us for the common good. In these uncertain times it is more important than ever the sector comes together with one unified, strong and credible voice.
We are a member driven organisation, not a private business, and our first responsibility is to our members, your clients and the wider community. I personally, and Fitness Australia as an organisation, will never encourage inappropriate or unsafe activities. By definition we should all have a vested interest in the health and wellbeing of all Australians.
Chief Executive Officer, Fitness Australia