Your year in lockdown: Falkirk gym boss taps into 'exercise at home'

Connor Russell used to regard the running of his Falkirk gym as a relatively straightforward concept.

Tuesday, 23rd March 2021, 4:45 pm

However, the challenges the coronavirus pandemic has thrown his way over the past year have meant he, like many others, has had to readjust his business to keep pace with the latest trends.

Mr Russell, who owns The Engine Room, concedes he wasn’t ready to bear the weight of the changes that came his way when the UK first went into lockdown.

Lessons were soon learned, though, as instructors switched their focus to digital, at-home workouts.

Connor Russell owner of The Engine Room, Falkirk. Picture: Michael Gillen.

While membership inevitably dropped last year, the business has retained the majority of current members in this lockdown – thanks to the experience the team gained the first time round.

Mr Russell said: “At the start of this year we were in a much better position to make very quick changes.

“The transition from regular classes to online sessions was a bit of a learning process to get it all set up, decide a timetable and get used to the technology.

“The first time round, I don’t think there was as much uptake among the members because people thought the lockdown was going to be temporary.

“This time, as soon as it happened we were able to put in place plans. All the members took it in their stride.”

The businessman believes membership levels have stayed steady in 2021 because gym regulars are “more open to the idea of exercising at home”

He added: “It’s a complete U-turn.

“The majority of it has been done online, however, with last week’s announcement, we’ve started doing our outdoor sessions again.

“Over the year, we’ve all learned how to work with the technology and I’d say we’re a lot more productive in the time we spend online.

“We’d ideally like to restart our classes when we can get back indoors. First we need to open the gym and change the bookings so people can book to work individually from April 26.

“Come May 27, when classes can begin, we need to rejig the settings so people can book classes and come in.

“One of the instructors is going to run pre and postnatal classes. We’re just hoping to get some months of normality again so we can try and build our membership back up.”

Thank you for reading this article on our free-to-read website. We're more reliant on your support than ever as the shift in consumer habits brought about by coronavirus impacts our advertisers.

Please consider purchasing a subscription to our print newspaper to help fund our trusted, fact-checked journalism.