Bristol and Swansea, United Kingdom

Increasing restrictions imposed by the UK government over the weeks following the first reported cases of Covid-19 were intended to reduce the number of people in the community congregating in public. At first the restrictions included closing bars and restaurants. Health and fitness businesses saw a dramatic drop in people visiting their centres and one by one they were closing. This is when the more ingenious in the health and fitness industry started to move their businesses online. As the founder of Brave Lifestyle, a community interest company based in the UK, I had also begun to ready a studio space with recording equipment and lighting to take my community health interventions from physical face-to-face interactions to virtual classes. 

This would not have been possible previously as the technology was not available, but the mobile phone devices we have in the palms of our hands now have the required capability. Advances in technology allow everyone to reach out to a worldwide audience with Snapchat, Instagram, Facebook, TikTok, and others to market their services. However, from my observations, everyone appeared to be working independently. Similar to the incomprehensible stockpile shopping and hoarding of goods that saw supermarket shelves stripped of toilet paper, bread, and pasta, health and fitness professionals were adopting an every-man-for-himself approach: a survival of the fittest mentality.

Over 20 years in the health and fitness industry, and as a sports coach, I appreciate the importance of “collaboration vs. competition” if your team (your ideology) is to succeed. In business the advantage of a collaborative approach overcomes the restriction of individuals only being able to cast their net over a certain audience. Collaboration with others (particularly when the services each are providing are different) widens the audience, and the area over which you can market each of your services. A more visionary approach, from a leader with mentoring and coaching qualities, can galvanise people to work together. At Brave Lifestyle we had that visionary approach as soon as the first case of Covid-19 came to the UK and we studied the clinical epidemiology in China, Italy, and Spain. We contacted a variety of health and fitness professionals who provide a valuable service and who had the right mentality and shared ethos to help the community keep physically and mentally healthy during the troubling Covid-19 times ahead. We built collaborative incentives in the group and began advertising all the online services we were delivering in one timetable across three cities (Swansea, Cardiff, and Bristol). Under the Brave Lifestyle Community Health Interventions banner we marketed and promoted online exercise and wellbeing activities such as meditation and yoga because we anticipated mental health issues skyrocketing as public stress, anxiety, and depression worsened. Our collective audiences benefit from several exercise and wellbeing activities every day of the week. 

I have been delivering health promotions to the public through community health interventions for children and adults for 15 years in various local authority and community roles. I have built up a reputation for my approach to community health both locally and internationally. I hope this collaborative, as opposed to competitive, approach is replicated in the coming months across the UK and other nations as governments try to keep their citizens safe with lockdown and quarantine measures. After all, as British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said in his Downing Street press release on Sunday 22nd March 2020: “It is crucial for people’s physical and mental wellbeing that they get out in the fresh air and exercise in open spaces and parks… however, it is absolutely critical to observe the social distancing advice and everyone must act responsibly”.

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