Fitness is the solution not the problem, says the Alberta Coalition of the Fitness Industry Council of Canada.
“We’re proud of the work we put into creating safe environments for our members,” says the group’s chair Emily Slaneff. “But we’re disappointed by the provincial government and health department decisions that have been made, without supporting data, that have shut us down and kept us closed.”
In response to these decisions, Alberta FIC members are fighting back this month with three initiatives.
Promotional video and Instagram channel
The coalition created a two-minute video, called “Fitness is the Solution, Not the Problem,” which features FIC members from across the province. Slaneff wrote the script and asked Alberta FIC members to record their parts on their phones.
“We hired a video producer to put it together,” says Slaneff, noting that the $1,500 fee was well worth it. Members posted the video on Instagram, worked hard to drive traffic to it, and encouraged viewers to share it. It has 100,000+ views to date. The supporting Instagram channel, @savefitnessab, gained more than 2,400 followers in the its first week.
One of the video’s key messages is that there have been only 147 COVID-19 cases associated with fitness facilities out of 4 million workouts in Alberta. This is a less than .0037% transmission rate. Additional data indicates that the fitness industry has one of the lowest rates of COVID-19 transmission.
The coalition also launched a website this month, http://www.savefitness.ca. An excellent resource, it attracted 6,000 views in less than three days. It shares all the facts about the current health and safety status of Alberta fitness facilities etc., lets viewers sign a petition, and provides contact information for Alberta MLAs.
Inspired by the B.C. coalition press conference of last month, Alberta held its own press event on February 4. Slaneff sought advice from her B.C. FIC colleagues and a public relations contact. Their tips included: host press events at 10:00am so your story can be on both the afternoon and evening news; send the press invitation two days before the event; send a reminder at 6:00am the morning of the event; and don’t expect a response from your invitation since the media will just show up if they’re interested.
“We were lucky that coincidentally there was a government small business town hall meeting the night before our press conference, so the media were looking for perspectives from small business owners,” says Slaneff.
The format of the event was 10 minutes of opening remarks from Slaneff, FIC president Scott Wildeman, and Alberta coalition member Andrew Obrecht. Fifteen minutes of questions from the media followed.
“It was a bit nerve wracking and intimidating, but we had responses prepared and were able to think quickly, plus we all have some experience with the press,” says Slaneff. “It was important that we came across as informed, educated and confident.”
Their efforts were well rewarded. CBC livestreamed the 25-minute press conference, and there was television coverage on CBC and CTV and coverage by the Calgary Herald, the Calgary Sun, 660 News radio, and several smaller radio channels.
All of this attention created awareness of the fitness industry’s dire situation, plus it elevated the name and profile of FIC, says Slaneff. “The stories all focused on our message that fitness is part of solution, that small businesses are dying, and that the fitness industry is in crisis and we need help.”