As Hong Kong continues to ease its social-distancing restrictions, struggling businesses are opening up their doors to the public once again. Restaurants and bars have been slowly getting back on track, with everyone eager for a dinner that’s plated instead of boxed. But there’s another industry of people and businesses who fear that things are too little, too late.
The Save HK Fitness movement and The Hong Kong Boutique Fitness & Wellness Alliance kicked off after business owners in the fitness sector expressed shared frustrations with the four-month long closure imposed on smaller fitness studios throughout the city. The campaign stands alongside the alliance of over 200 boutique gym and studio owners, who are all collectively fighting for greater support from the Hong Kong government.
“Fitness is a building block of the unlimited health of the Individual and the Nation. Without this foundation, all your pillars of the economy of the region or country will crush fast.”– Mack Fitt Pijewski, health-tech entrepreneur and consultant at CircleDNA, Prenetics
Several months in limbo saw many business owners reaching into personal savings, with a number of landlords dismissing requests for reduced rent. In a survey recently conducted by the alliance, almost all members reported zero income and over 80% believe they will not or don’t know if their businesses will make it through the year without immediate financial relief. The alliance hopes to push for a one-off subsidy between HK$150,000 to HK$200,000 to cover the costs of their sky-rocketing rent prices.
As their fight continues, Tricia Yap, one of the core founders of the Save HK Fitness movement and the alliance, shares five things everyone can do to support the city’s fitness sector:
1. Check out your local boutique gym or studio
Exercise has so many benefits for mental and physical health. It’s just about finding what kind of movement resonates with you, and keeping it up.
2. Support your favourite coach or instructor
Go to their classes; sign up for their virtual classes if they have any or reach out to ask when they are next teaching.
3. Invest in your optimal health and fitness
If you haven’t already, now is the best time. At R3 Personal Training for example, we combine nutritional medicine coaching with strength training for the best results for our PT clients.
“Fitness to me is all about finding balance. It is sometimes my coffee to start my day right. It is my escape to finish a full day at work before home. It’s also my church over the weekend. I enter my gym with different feelings every time, but I will always walk out a happier person – even on a happy day.– Charlz Ng, founder and managing director of Hybrid Group
4. Buy a package or two in advance
Many of the boutique studios are in urgent need of cash flow. If your local gym or studio’s main source of revenue comes from a pay-as-you-go or package model, and they have paused your package for you due to the closures, know that they will be struggling to keep cash flow coming in for the next few months as they wait for members to utilise their packages. So buy a package or two ahead of time, especially if you love where and with whom you work out.
5. Follow @savehkfitness and help share the movement
Part of our objective is to also support our community. In the coming weeks, we want to highlight members in our alliance and showcase their services, so be sure to follow @savehkfitness on Instagram to stay tuned.
Even as things begin to look up for Hong Kong, physical and mental fitness remains integral to our wellbeing. “Exercise is an anti-depressant and sedentary life is a depressant”, says co-owner and director of Joint Dynamics, Andrew Cox. “In a city such as Hong Kong where mental health and anxiety rob[s] individuals of quality of life, and cost industry billions of dollars due to time away from work, exercise is indeed the perfect medicine.”