SSISA Position Statement on Alternative Services during Level 3 Lockdown: Workout Stations
As of 3 August 2020, the Sports Science Institute of South Africa (SSISA) will be facilitating exercise sessions to our members, within safe spaces outside of our Fitness Centre. In accordance with the current Level 3 regulations, the SSISA fitness centre remains closed to our members.
we have identified various safe alternative areas (such as nearby grass fields
and spaces outside our fitness center) to ensure that we can assist our members
to remain active during these times. In accordance with regulations, no more
than four people will be permitted to exercise at any particular workout
station. SSISA exercise equipment will be placed at each workout station for
use at the particular station. Online booking of a workout station is
essential and we will allow a maximum of 45 minutes of use to ensure adequate
time to clean between sessions and to minimise contact between members.
All sessions will be supervised by either SSISA registered practitioners
or SSISA qualified fitness trainers. Strict COVID-19 protocols will ensure the
safety of all staff and members.
7 reasons why we introduced workout stations as an alternative:
Our qualified professionals are predominantly registered practitioners who can carry out their trade within their respective professional guidelines regarding COVID-19 protocols, in addition to SSISA’s own protocols. As a multi-disciplinary centre of excellence that provides a broad range of health and wellness services, we are not just a fitness centre and we assist our practitioners by appropriately servicing our customer base.Our qualified professionals are predominantly registered practitioners who can carry out their trade within their respective professional guidelines regarding COVID-19 protocols, in addition to SSISA’s own protocols. As a multi-disciplinary centre of excellence that provides a broad range of health and wellness services, we are not just a fitness centre and we assist our practitioners by appropriately servicing our customer base.
Part of our nature is that we are an educational and training institute. We have over 60 personal fitness qualification diploma students and degreed biokineticist interns that need to complete work-integrated learning hours. Many cannot afford to repeat a whole year in 2021, otherwise, their careers could be significantly and permanently jeopardized. They are legally permitted to continue their education journey (just not in a fitness centre) and our members have historically benefited from their programmes for many years.
Our fitness centre members have been requesting to borrow our equipment since April 2020. Whilst we cannot let them take equipment home, we have decided to remove some idle equipment from our fitness centre, take it to safe locations (e.g. outdoor areas), and allow members to use it under the safeguard of our practitioners and students. We have started with small portable equipment and may increase our transporting capacity and radius as member demand increases.
Outdoor exercise is permitted and may become the norm for some of our members that are unwilling or unable to return to a fitness centre after lockdown.
We have strict protocols that follow national guidelines, such as social distancing, limitations to group sizes, temperature checks, screening questionnaires, cleaning of equipment after use, mask-wearing, sanitizing, and so on. This manages the risk of COVID-19 to a level that we believe is lower than they would experience in their daily life from work, shopping, commuting, etc.
We have responded to requests from our members to find innovative ways to support their health journeys outside of the locked-down fitness centre. Some members have used our online offerings but this is not always a substitute for the motivation, scientific guidance, technical assessments, rehabilitation, and injury prevention that we can physically provide at a workout station.
We have a responsibility to our two key stakeholders: Our members and our staff.
Many members joined us because they wished to achieve personal results that would either improve their fitness levels or reduce their risk of developing/exacerbating chronic disease and comorbidities. Comorbidities are major risk factors for patients with COVID-19. Reports have shown that >95% of COVID-19 related deaths had comorbidities. A strong immune system, which is enhanced by exercise and a healthy lifestyle, is also essential during these times.
Our long-suffering staff entrust us with finding opportunities for them to make a living. The average amount our staff recover from UIF, whilst they are on lay-off, is less than 15% of our payroll and takes about 6 weeks to receive from UIF. We therefore actively look for opportunities to re-start the economic cycle that flows between our members and staff.
Faced with lock-down challenges, businesses can either give up or press on. Our approach as SSISA is to press on, and we have experimented with a range of services for each lockdown stage since April 2020, including online classes and online training. As a centre of excellence, we strive to be dynamic in how we innovate during and beyond lockdown, and we work with the health and fitness industry to share our learnings. We invite our members to continue contributing ideas about how we can better help them – knowing that the only certainty we have left is ‘change’.