COVID-19 is causing unprecedented disruption across the health and fitness industry, as well as the wider leisure industry. At Harlands Group, we are here to support our clients during this challenging time and beyond. We’ve collated useful resources and links to resources we believe will be valuable to your organisation at this time.
The health and fitness industry is our passion and focus. We are determined to ensure your organisation comes back fighting fit and stronger than ever.
The resources and links provided in this article are intended to provide useful reference points rather than guidance or advice. We always recommend regularly reviewing official guidance from the Government:
Government Guidance To Employers and Businesses About COVID-19
A package of temporary and targeted measures was announced to support organisations of all sizes that have suffered disruption caused by COVID-19.
Measures to support businesses include:
- Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme – if you are an employer with a PAYE scheme where employees have been asked to stop working but are kept on the payroll, HMRC will reimburse 80% of their wages or up to £2,500 per month. Find out more about the scheme here and apply from 20th April 2020
- Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme – if cash flow is a challenge for you, this scheme offers loans, overdrafts, invoice finance and asset finance of up to £5 million and for up to 6 years for SMEs through the British Business Bank. The Government will also make a Business Interruption Payment to cover the first 12 months of interest payments and any lender-levied fees, so if you are a smaller business you’ll benefit from no upfront costs and lower initial repayments. Find out if you are eligible
- Coronavirus Bounce Back Loan – announced on 27 April, this scheme allows small and medium sized businesses that have been impacted by COVID-19 to apply for a loan from £2,000 to £50,000. The Government is guaranteeing 100% of the fees and there will be no repayments, fees or interest in the first 12 months. With a term of up to 6 years, the Government will work with lending banks to agree low interest rates for the remainder of the loan term. Learn more and apply from 4 May 2020.
- Deferring VAT payments – If you are a UK VAT registered business that has a VAT payment due between 20 March and 30 June 2020, you can choose to defer the payment or pay as normal – find out how to defer a VAT payment
- Deferring Income Tax payments – For Income Tax Self-Assessment where a payment is due on account on 31 July 2020, this may be deferred to 31 January 2021. This offer is automatic with no penalties or interest for late payment if you choose to defer
- HMRC Time To Pay Scheme – if you are a business or self-employed individual in financial distress and have outstanding tax liabilities you may be eligible to receive support with tax affairs through this service. To access this call the dedicated HMRC helpline 0800 0159 559
- 12-month business rates holiday – a business rates holiday will be introduced for retail, hospitality and leisure businesses in England for the 2020 to 2021 tax year. There is no action to take on this, some local authorities may need to reissue your bill to provide this support and will do so as soon as possible
- Support for businesses that pay little or no business rates – if you are a small business and pay little or no business rates because of small business rate relief (SBRR), rural rate relief (RRR) or tapered relief, you may be eligible for a small one-off grant of £10,000 to help you meet ongoing business costs. If you are eligible your local authority will write to you – contact your local authority
- Retail and Hospitality Grant Scheme – if you are a business in the retail, hospitality or leisure sectors you may be eligible for a grant of up to £25,000 per property based on the rateable value of each property. If you are eligible your local authority will write to you – contact your local authority
- COVID-19 Corporate Financing Facility – if you are a larger organisation, this facility will buy short-term debt to support your company if impacted by a short-term funding squeeze to allow you to finance short-term liabilities. Learn more and see if you are eligible on the Bank of England’s website
- Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) relief package for SMEs – for employers with fewer than 250 employees as of 28 February 2020 with employees who are still able to work, this package offers the ability to reclaim SSP for sickness absence due to COVID-19 provided certain criteria are met. Details of how to access the rebate scheme will be published once the legislation is passed.
For more on these visit the Government’s Support for Businesses page.
The Government also has a dedicated Business Support microsite which provides useful financial support and business advice: businesssupport.gov.uk.
The Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW) has also published a range of practical guidance and materials – view the ICAEW’s practical advice for businesses.
Support for Self Employed
Many individuals working in the health and fitness industry are self-employed.
As well as the ability to defer Income Tax payments (detailed above), the Government has announced support for self-employed through the Self Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS). This will support self-employed individuals who have lost income due to Coronavirus.
Under the scheme you can claim a taxable grant worth 80% of your trading profits, up to a maximum of £2,500 per month for the 3 months following 20 March 2020 (this may be extended if necessary). Claim a grant through the Self-employment Income Support Scheme.
Health & Fitness Industry Support
ukactive has put together a COVID-19 area to provide guidance and advice to the physical activity sector. It provides operational guidance, analysis, details of who to contact for support or guidance and more. Visit the ukactive COVID-19 area.
On 7 May 2020, ukactive published a recommended operational framework for gyms, leisure centres and other fitness operators in the UK to reopen safely once the Government allows this. The framework has been developed in conjunction with major leisure and fitness operators and reviewed by leading medical experts. Read the framework.
CIMSPA has created a COVID-19 hub to produce advice and practical assistance for its members, partners and the wider industry. Visit the CIMSPA COVID-19 hub.
Sport England has put out latest advice for the organisations it supports – read the latest from Sport England.
The Swimming Teachers’ Association (STA) has a range of advice swim school specific advice – including resources to keep children engaged during the closure period. View the STA COVID-19 resources.
EuropeActive has a range of information and resources designed to keep you informed about what is happening in the wider fitness industry. It is running regular webinars with contributors from across the region and has published recommended practices. Visit the EuropeActive COVID-19 information and resources.
Keeping Members Engaged
Ensuring members are keep active and engage during the closure period is vital to the long-term success of your organisation.
Join the Movement
The ‘Join the Movement’ campaign has been launched by Sport England in to encourage the public to #StayInWorkOut while the country deals with the Coronavirus outbreak.
The campaign has been designed to provide the latest advice for getting active outdoors during this time, as well as resources for getting active at home. It encourages using the hashtag on social media to show how you’re keeping active. Find out more about the campaign.
Get involved in this campaign and make the most of the resources and hashtag to engage with your members via your social media channels. Perhaps challenge members to show you how they are staying active at home during this time and share how your team is keeping active.
Free Home Workout Resources
Working out at home can be daunting for members so it can be valuable to share resources to help. Sport England has collated details of on demand services as well as free resources here which may be a starting point.
Your social media channels and website can be a great way to share ideas and workouts with members. Consider sharing a workout of the day or work out of the week. Look at creating friendly competition and engagement with regular fitness challenges. Remember that not all members will have access to fitness equipment at home so suggesting substitutions or no equipment options will ensure as many members as possible can get involved.
Many fitness operators, alongside social media influencers and others, have put on live and on demand workouts on a free or paid basis. This can be a great option and way to give members access to their favourite classes while you are closed.
Holding free classes pre-recorded or streamed via your social media channels (Facebook, Instagram and YouTube for example) is a good starting point – you may even encourage non-members to get involved to provide a taste of what a membership will offer. If you are using music or workouts from licenced programmes, it’s important to consider whether you can use these when livestreaming or prerecording classes.
Member-Exclusive Home Workout Resources
Having resources that are exclusive for members, whether you just offer these or provide them alongside free options, can be a key incentive to encourage member loyalty.
Perhaps you already have an app for members that offers the ability to upload or access workout resources to share with members. Look at creative ways to encourage members to engage with these.
If you offer group fitness classes, consider creating a timetable of virtual classes that members can attend. Some platforms, such as Zoom, offer a free or low-cost way to run these classes and will allow you to ensure that only members have the details needed to access. Functionality and flexibility may be limited though.
Digital Fitness Platform
Whether you already have a digital offering or not, now is an opportune time to try out a flexible digital fitness platform that can be used in a way that suits your organisation.
Our sister company, TrueCoach, offers a digital fitness platform that can be adapted to suit your needs. Whether you want to distribute mass-targeted workout and/or nutrition content to members, or deliver personalised workout and nutrition programmes, or a combination or anywhere in between these approaches, TrueCoach can be used to engage and interact your members even when they are not able to visit you in real life.
Key features of TrueCoach include:
- Team accounts
- PT and client management
- Custom theming and branding
- Email notifications and live chat
- Programme builder – with an extensive library of exercise tutorial videos and upload your own
- Custom metrics and reporting
- Workout, progress and nutrition tracking
- Client compliance tracking
TrueCoach is offering a 3-month complimentary trial of the platform to Harlands clients and contacts (with no payment details required and the option to cancel at any time). Get in touch with our team to learn more.
Find out more about what makes a successful virtual membership package that will serve you well now and for the future – Fighting Fit: Building A Virtual Membership Offering.
For any questions or concerns you may have, our Account Management team is on hand to help during this challenging time and beyond. To help you get answers to your questions faster, we’ve put together answers to the most frequent questions we are receiving – check out our FAQs page.
This article was last updated on 12 May 2020.