Rebel gym owner, Nick Whitcombe, appears on Panorama
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Rebel gym owner, Nick Whitcombe, appears on Panorama

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Nick Whitcombe, the independent gym owner who became a fitness industry campaigner by refusing to shut his Liverpool gym as part of tier 3 restrictions, appeared on the BBC Panorama programme last night (9 November).

Whitcombe, who talks to HCM in an interview for the upcoming issue (issue 10/2020), made headlines in October after keeping his Body Tech Fitness gym open, despite orders to close it.

He featured on a Panorama special called Liverpool: Fighting COVID that saw reporter Jane Corbin visit the city to find out how people are coping with coronavirus restrictions.

In October, Whitcombe’s campaign to keep gyms open quickly gathered momentum and a petition reached 600,000 signatures in less than a week. A gofundme page set up to enable his gym to pay fines and legal costs raised £55,000 in six days and he now receives up to 15,000 social media messages a day from people in the industry and well-wishers supporting his cause.

Now, as England has entered "lockdown 2", Whitcombe is at the heart of a second campaign, to get the health and fitness industry classified as an ‘Essential Service’ which means it can stay open during lockdowns and be a fundamental pillar to support the NHS.

The appearance on Panorama marks the latest high-profile appearance for Whitcombe, whose campaign has resulted in him featuring Sky News, The New York Times and Russia Today.

Speaking in his interview with HCM, Whitcombe said: "Everyone’s onboard on the campaign to get gyms classed as an Essential Service.

"We’re working with local MPs, ukactive, sports and nutrition companies and the big players such as Grenade, Pure Gym and Gymshark.

“I’ve been in the industry for a decade and it’s the first time that I’ve seen it truly unified from the top to the bottom, which I think is a silver lining to come out of this situation.

"We’re all standing together now – independents, corporates, suppliers. This is a testament to the magnitude of the situation.”

To sign up for a free digital edition of HCM, including the interview with Nick Whitcombe, click here.)

• To access a digital back catalogue of HCM magazines – and to subscribe for future issues – click here.

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