"The Government’s new obesity strategy and Boris Johnson’s admission that his excess weight was a key reason he needed intensive care treatment after contracting COVID-19, will spur consumers to do something about their weight. It’s also a massive call-to-action for the fitness industry to step up and really engage with people whose chief concern is losing weight.
"I believe we have a duty of care to help this demographic get fitter and healthier by adapting our programmes and removing barriers to participation.
"Operators must provide specific routes to help overweight and obese individuals get healthier: just ‘opening the gym’ won’t cut through for many.
"At Speedflex, we have introduced a new subsidised initiative to support people with a BMI over 30 and this is working well.
"The programme starts with a specialised InBody assessment which allows our experts to measure, track and record participants’ progress. There follows six weeks of bespoke HIIT classes and then a final InBody assessment to take stock and assess their success. Knowing price can be a huge barrier for some people to exercise, we’re doing this for £50.
"Our equipment allows people to work out at a high intensity while keeping the impact low – a key consideration for those carrying extra weight. The programme generates personalised resistance, so everyone can train at their optimum level. No-one stands out as ‘not keeping up’ in any shape or form. In fact, obese or overweight participants will burn more calories than others in the room – often topping the leader board, which makes them feel great.
"A focused programme that makes people feel good about their exercise will engage and motivate them to return, which is why I truly believe our new initiative – alongside good nutrition – is a fast track to better health.
"Let’s take the lead and seize the moment to support the obesity strategy by helping those wanting to turn their health around.
"We are representatives of Forward ME, an advocacy group led by Carol Monaghan, MP and the Countess of Mar.
"Our goal is to support people with Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (ME) and Post-Viral Fatigue Syndrome (PVFS).
"We write in reference to your feature on post-COVID-19 recovery programmes (HCM issue 8 2020).
"A diagnosis of ME often follows a prolonged viral infection and a period of post-viral fatigue syndrome.
"Research has indicated that up to 10 per cent of people who contract a viral infection will experience post-viral fatigue and this figure may apply to COVID-19 survivors as well.
"When it comes to rehabilitation, instead of the usual ‘reconditioning’, we recommend that people should be helped to adopt a paced approach to activity management to avoid symptom exacerbation or post exertional malaise – a primary symptom of ME. Similar issues seem to present in people struggling to recover from COVID-19.
"Other strategies that might prove useful include ensuring individualised care and support, adequate rest, sleep, and nutrition.
"We feel it’s vital that patients don’t receive Graded Exercise Therapy (GET) as a matter of course, because ME research and patient experience has shown it to be ineffective and harmful in many cases.
"This was highlighted in a survey commissioned by Forward ME and completed by an academic research group from Oxford Brookes University, which found that 80 per cent of people with ME reported having adverse events because of GET.
"There is extensive evidence to show that people with ME have abnormal responses to exercise and while we don’t yet know if this might apply to post-COVID-19 survivors, it’s possible there will be similarities.
"These abnormalities include reduced maximum heart rate, reduced maximum oxygen consumption, reduced cardiac output, insufficient blood pressure increase on exertion and decreased capacity to use oxygen. When exercise is repeated the next day, abnormalities are more severe.