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Gold Coast’s active lifestyle ignites fitness industry’s post Covid-19 comeback

Dominica Czaczka | June 15, 2020

As the mercury dips across the nation, many Australians will find themselves reaching for the snooze button, snuggling into their warm beds for a little while longer.

As for the Gold Coast? Locals have been awake since first light, reaching for their joggers from Coomera down to Coolangatta.

From pounding the pavement, cycling down the Gold Coast Highway to enjoying a leisurely seaside stroll, a quiet thrum of activity descends on the Gold Coast each morning as the city awakens to a new day.

While avid fitness fanatics were forced to take a hiatus from their local gyms, studios and bootcamps during the pandemic, the Shake UP’s Ben O’Connor says the city’s ingrained health-focused mentality is what will buoy the fitness industry to survive, despite the setbacks and challenges many fitness professionals have faced in the last few Covid-19 marred months.

“Fitness is such a big part of Gold Coast culture. It’s what this place is.

“It’s evident that it’s a massive part of Gold Coast culture. I live on the beach at Tugun and even when it’s cold and windy, there’s people still out and about walking.

“I think it’s a big factor in the industry surviving,” he explains.

It’s a midweek winter morning on the Gold Coast. The temperature has slipped to uncharacteristic single digits and O’Connor has resumed outdoor bootcamps to the delight of his Shake UP community.

Shake Up

“I’m fortunate to have this business in this kind of environment.

“I love it. It sounds cliché but I’ve got the best job; I get to hang out with these great, motivated people and get to call it work.

“Even this morning we trained and it was 6 degrees, and we get 20 or so people rocking up to training because it’s that kind of environment.”

The Shake UP community’s dedication is what saw O’Connor embrace the challenge that circumstances presented.

“It (the pandemic) almost came as a blessing. I was already creating content and I knew I had to go online but I just wasn’t making it a priority. All of a sudden I had this urgent need to do it so I took the leap.

“I thought to myself, how do I recreate that energy in a session and move it online?”

O’Connor was quick to provide the Shake UP’s clients with an online program to utilise during the shutdown period. This included an online course and Facebook live sessions in a closed Facebook group every morning and evening.

While the easing of Covid-19 restrictions has seen a slow return to outdoor training, O’Connor says the Covid-19 crisis has catapulted his business model to embrace a digital component moving forward.

“I think there is a percentage of people will continue to look for online products when this all settles down.

“I had a lot of people purchase our products who aren’t members and sales are continuing to grow.

“Pre-Covid, people didn’t like the idea of training at home and relying on a virtual network. A lot of people have now become accustomed to training online.

“I’ve got a lot of members who are parents; because of the restrictions on numbers they can’t bring their kids to sessions. A lot of those members are training at home still, but they’re quite happy to train at home.

“They’re enjoying it and I think that’s a big change for the fitness industry,” said O’Connor.

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