Paul Ferris is the Chief Executive of Speedflex, the most inclusive workout concept on the market. In 2011 Paul set up the business with Sage Software founder Sir Graham Wylie and former Newcastle United and England Captain Alan Shearer. They have helped create Speedflex studios in over 25 locations including Bannatyne Health Clubs and Everyone Active Leisure Centres.
We spoke with Paul, former physiotherapist for Newcastle United, about the role operators can play to support overweight and obese individuals in the fight against COVID-19.
How important is it that operators take more steps to tackle obesity?
Tackling health issues has typically been the domain of local authority operators via GP referral schemes. Working in the leisure industry, I believe that not only is it our duty to help people get fitter and healthier, but if you play a key role in transforming someone’s life they become a superfan of your brand. It’s rewarding and makes total business sense.
Boris Johnson recently announced he plans to launch a drive to tackle obesity in the battle against coronavirus and at Speedflex we are 100% behind this initiative. The Prime Minister told ministers that he is convinced his excess weight was a key reason he needed intensive care treatment after contracting the infection, and I think that has spurred a lot of consumers to take action about their weight. As operators, we need to respond and provide specific routes to help overweight and obese individuals to get healthier.
Research has suggested that overweight people with Covid-19 are twice as likely to require hospital treatment as others. In a recent study, people who were obese – with a body mass index (BMI) of more than 30 – had a 33% greater risk of dying than those who were not. This presents a huge opportunity for operators to provide structured solutions to these specific concerns.
How do you plan to support the government’s fight against obesity post-lockdown?
Speedflex already lends itself perfectly to an overweight demographic. To further encourage obese individuals to get back into exercise we’ve created a subsidised six-week programme for anyone with a BMI of 30 or over. The programme starts and finishes with an InBody assessment which allows us to measure, track and record progress. We are offering this at our flagship studio in Newcastle from 4th July and have created a blueprint for our partners for optional use.
Why is Speedflex such a good workout for overweight and obese individuals?
One of the reasons Speedflex is so effective is its ability to allow participants to workout at a high intensity while keeping the impact low.
With Speedflex, a free motion bar generates personalised resistance, so every participant, from the professional athlete to the deconditioned obese individual, can train at their optimum level.
The obese participant can safely join a standard session and burn more calories than anyone else in the room – topping the leader board and feeling great about themselves.
Deconditioned individuals often begin with high levels of motivation but are quickly derailed by aches, pains and injury. Speedflex uses only concentric movements, completely eliminating the DOMS which can be so off-putting for beginners.
Put simply, Speedflex enables overweight individuals to begin a workout programme safely and receive all the proven benefits of HIIT training without any comeback on the joints, which are often in a sub-optimal state from years of carrying excess weight.
It’s for all these reasons that Speedflex provides a much faster route to weight loss. In just two Speedflex sessions we allow deconditioned individuals to achieve the same workout intensity that would take six-weeks to reach with other forms of exercise.