Nick Whitcombe, the independent gym owner who refused to shut his gym during the October tier 3 restrictions, is becoming a fitness industry campaigner of international renown.
Liverpool-based Whitcombe’s campaign has this week seen him featured in a full-page article in the New York Times
– an experience he describes as "surreal".
Previously, he has also featured on the BBC’s Panorama programme, (9 November), with his reach stretching as far as the Russia Today programme.
He was also mentioned by Angela Eagle in the recent parliamentary debate on gyms and sport.
Whitcombe first shot into the nation's consciousness when he refused to close his gym, Body Tech Fitness, when Liverpool was placed under tier 3 restrictions – despite multiple visits from police and a pile of fines.
Since then, he has become one of the faces of an unofficial campaign to get the health and fitness industry classified as an ‘essential service’.
Speaking to HCM
, Whitcombe says he’s receiving up to 15,000 social media messages a day from people in the industry and well wishers supporting the cause.
“I’ve been in the industry for a decade and it’s the first time that I’ve seen it truly unified from the top to the bottom, which I think is a silver lining to come out of this situation," he told HCM
"We’re all standing together now – independents, corporates, suppliers. This is testament to the magnitude of the situation.”
He wants to see a Work Out to Help Out scheme, to help avoid the deterioration in mental and physical health the second lockdown is sure to have created, and for gyms to be allowed to stay open during any further lockdowns.
“Prevention is better – and more cost-effective – than cure,” he said.
“The government doesn’t always listen to logic, but they will listen to budgets. So if we can show them how we can stem the drain which lifestyle diseases, such as diabetes, put on the NHS, they may comprehend how our industry can genuinely protect the NHS. No other sector can support it as we can.”
• To read a full interview with Nick Whitcombe, in the latest issue of HCM, click here.