Prime Minister Boris Johnson has paid a surprise visit to a branch of The Gym Group (TGG) in his South Ruislip constituency in West London.
The company has been inviting Johnson to come and see its clubs for some weeks and the invitation was finally clinched by TGG manager, Nate McCann.
The top secret visit was hosted by The Gym Group's chief commercial officer, Barney Harrison.
During his visit, Johnson was given a tour of the facility and was talked through how staff are keeping members – and themselves – safe during the pandemic.
The PM even did a bit of weight-lifting for the cameras while at the gym.
"Today we welcomed Boris Johnson to our new gym in South Ruislip," Harrison said.
"It was a great pleasure to meet him and have the time to show him inside one of our brilliant gyms.
"We also had the opportunity to discuss the importance of physical activity and how The Gym Group is leading the charge on getting Britain back to the gym.
"Thank you to Boris Johnson for taking the time to come and visit."
Johnson's appearance reinforces his new-found determination to tackle the UK's obesity crisis – partly instigated by his own experience after contracting COVID-19 at the end of March 2020.
By his own admission, Johnson was “way overweight” when he was admitted to hospital for worsening COVID-19 symptoms in early April. Obesity is believed to have been a contributing factor to his health deteriorating to the extent that he needed intensive care.
On 24 July, a Public Health England report confirmed
that excess weight can increase risk of serious illness and death from COVID-19.
Unfortunately, Johnson's new obesity strategy, published last month, contains little mention of gyms or exercise
. Rather, all of the strategy's headline-grabbing measures are to do with making diets healthier – and include a ban on junk food adverts before 9pm.
The gym industry is continuing to lobby to raise the profile of the sector with decision-makers.