James Haskell calls for 'Work Out to Help Out' scheme

James Haskell slams Eat Out to Help Out scheme and calls for ‘Work Out to Help Out’ to subsidise gyms as he says Britons are ‘hugely obese’

  • The former England Rugby star said more action is needed to educate on health
  • Gyms and leisure facilities should be subsidised like restaurants were, he said 
  • Boris Johnson’s roadmap to recovery could see gyms reopen as early as April 21  

James Haskell has slammed last year’s Eat Out to Help Out scheme and urged ministers to subsidise gyms instead to tackle Britain’s health crisis.

The former England Rugby player said today more action was needed to teach ‘hugely obese’ Britons to be healthy and try and fight off future pandemics.

Haskell took aim at Rishi Sunak’s programme, which gave diners up to 50 per cent off meals out back in August to boost the struggling hospitality industry, and demanded a similar level of support for gyms and leisure facilities. 

James Haskell has slammed last year’s Eat Out to Help Out scheme and urged ministers to subsidise gyms instead to tackle Britain’s health crisis

Gym bosses have been given a major boost after Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced they could reopen from England’s third national lockdown earlier than expected on April 12.

Millions of locked-down fitness fans are expected to be allowed to return to indoor leisure facilities in seven weeks’ time, in a major victory for gyms which had feared a much longer shutdown.

However, group exercise classes at leisure centres are not expected to restart until at least May 17, when restrictions will begin to be lifted for indoor gatherings.

Reacting to the Prime Minister’s announcement on Monday, Duncan Bannatyne said he is ‘delighted’ that his gyms will reopen on April 12, while Anytime Fitness called the news a ‘light at the end of the tunnel’.    

Just hours earlier yesterday, gym bosses pleaded with Mr Johnson to let them reopen by May, as one chief revealed that his firm was burning through £500,000 a day during the third coronavirus shutdown.  

He told Sky News: ‘What we’ve learned during this pandemic is that health is wealth and unfortunately we have an incredibly poor obesity rate in this country, we’re probably the worst in Europe.

‘To fight off future viruses and pandemics we need to be healthy.

‘But unfortunately the government, wanting to keep businesses open across the board, advocated Eat Out to Help Out.

‘What we want to do is get behind a scheme to try to encourage this country to be healthier, to try to take a better attitude towards health and training.

‘So when we get out of this lockdown, whenever the government opens gyms, [we want them] to get behind this Work Out to Help Out scheme, which is subsidising any sort of paid fee for training, so leisure centres, swimming pools, health clubs.’

Boris Johnson announced this week that gyms could reopen from England’s third national lockdown earlier than expected on April 12, as he set out his roadmap to recovery.

Millions of locked-down fitness fans are expected to be allowed to return to indoor leisure facilities in seven weeks’ time, in a major victory for gyms which had feared a much longer shutdown.

However, group exercise classes at leisure centres are not expected to restart until at least May 17, when restrictions will begin to be lifted for indoor gatherings.

Despite the boost though, Haskell thinks more needs to be done in terms of encouraging people to be healthy.

‘I think we need to go a lot further and raise education in terms of schools and nutrition,’ he said.

‘People can train anywhere and do anything but the education out there is terrible, people just don’t understand and we’re not taught how to do this.

‘I think to avoid future issues we need to take a really, really firm stand and try to sort this out. 

Boris Johnson announced this week that gyms could reopen from England’s third national lockdown earlier than expected on April 12, as he set out his roadmap to recovery

‘We’d love to see gyms open because it’s not just about having a six-pack, it’s about your mental health, your cardiovascular health, it’s a holistic approach and unfortunately we’re just terrible at it in this country and we go the wrong way.

‘Everyone’s looking forward to the first time they can down a pint, but that’s not really going to help us the next time a pandemic happens, and unfortunately the naivety to think Covid is going to disappear because we’ve all got vaccinated is pretty short-sighted. 

‘They’re already making noises about wearing masks next winter, but you’re much more likely to fight stuff off if you’re healthy.

‘I do talks all the time on nutrition and health, nobody understands how to eat, what is required to change your body and to be healthy.

‘The fact is if it was that simple, we’d all be in shape, we wouldn’t all be hugely obese like this country is and I think what I’m saying about this is not just encouraging people to go to gyms, but it could be going to health clubs, five-a-side football, playing team sport. 

‘It’s just encouraging people to be in a healthier mindset and understand the basics of eating, the basics of calories.

‘Why do we teach kids so much stuff in school that they never use? It would be a good idea to teach them how to cook healthy food, what a healthy protein source is.

‘There is always something out there, you see the likes of Joe Wicks with his PE and how he’s captured the country’s imagination. There’s something for everybody, we’ve just got to make sure we advise how to do it best.’

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