Gyms blast Boris's decision to leave them closed while pubs can reopen

FITNESS industry bosses have slammed Prime Minister Boris Johnson's decision to leave gyms closed despite allowing pubs to reopen.

After contracting the coronavirus in April Mr Johnson vowed to tackle obesity in the UK, but keeping gyms closed might have the opposite effect.

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When the Prime Minister was admitted to hospital with the virus he weighed around 17 stone.

Data from NHS England states that in 2018/19 there were 11,117 hospital admissions with a primary diagnosis of obesity.

This is an increase of 4 per cent on 2017/18, since 2014 admissions have increased by 22 per cent.

Mr Johnson has allowed pubs and restaurants to reopen but not gyms or chlorinated swimming pools.

Many personal trainers have managed to still conduct sessions with clients, albeit while implementing social distancing rules.

But the latest round of the lifting of lockdown restrictions has left many in the industry questioning when they will be able to open.

Speaking to The Sun, Neil Randall, chief executive office (CEO) of Anytime Fitness said the industry needs clarity on when gyms will be able to open again.

"The economy needs to recover and it’s great news for the hospitality sector and by no means are we frustrated that they got the nod to open and there are huge benefits for this.

"The big problem is today's news that there are fears of a second wave – we have used the economy rather than the health of the nation as the key focus.

"People have been saying you can’t put a price on human life but it doesn’t seem that way."

He highlights Mr Johnson's fight with the virus and said the Prime Minister had been open about this, but said many in the industry were left "confused" by the announcement yesterday.

"There are benefits for opening gyms, our mental health, our immunity. A healthy immune system is the best thing we have to fight this virus.

We just need a decision and clarity

"The decision yesterday was puzzling, We've been doing a lot of work with the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport (DCMS) for many weeks so it was confusing when he said a task force needed to be launched.

"Gyms submitted frameworks on May 7 for reopening so it's been in play for a while."

Last night DCMS secretary Oliver Dowden tweeted that the government was still looking at mid-July for the reopening of gyms.

Mr Randall added that more needs to be done to keep businesses in the loop.

"We just need a decision and clarity.

"The lack of clarity and the lack of a mention yesterday was the most frustrating thing. Just tell us what we need to do and give us a date", he added.

Another gym CEO told The Sun that the government's decision was "astonishing".

Sophie Lawler, CEO of Total Fitness said: “It’s not just disappointment that the sector is currently feeling, but utter astonishment at the government’s complete lack of understanding of the social value that the fitness and leisure industry has.

"The health club industry is highly professionalised and had always been at the forefront of the fight against preventable disease in the UK.

What changes are gym chains making before they reopen?

HERE'S what social distancing measures gym groups will have in place when they reopen

The Gym Group: The Gym Group is upping its cleaning routine and will be asking members to disinfect their machines after use.

It'll also install contactless entry to its sites, as well as introducing and sanitiser stations.

Some machines will be turned off altogether, while others will have screens between them to separate customers.

It'll also ask everyone to limit their workout time to no longer than one hour.

Fitness First: Fitness First will also have enhanced hygiene measures when it reopens its 120 gyms, including PPE for staff members.

Like The Gym Group, it'll be encouraging members to help clean their machines after use.

They'll have cleaning stations and hand sanitisers around the gym floor to help you do this.

Equipment has also been spaced out so fitness buffs can keep two metres apart, while some will be turned off completely.

Temperature checks may also be performed upon entry – which will also be contactless – to ensure you're well enough to workout.

PureGym: PureGym will space out equipment and turn some machines off to accommodate social distancing.

They'll also have boxes marked out on their gym floors to show how much space you have to work out.

In addition, they'll be even more regularly cleaning in place and members will be asked to wipe down their machines with disinfectant after they've finished.

PureGym will also limit the number of customers allowed inside at one time, and they'll have a similar function on their app where you can see how busy your nearest gym is.

Contactless entry will be encouraged when you arrive, as well as the use of hand sanitisers.

PureGym has around 260 sites across the UK.

David Lloyd: Around 50 clubs have started rolling out new outdoor exercise timetables, with up to 90 classes being offered a week.

Classes on offer will include group exercises, yoga, pilates and bootcamp-style workouts such as HIIT.

There will be a maximum of five gym members plus an instructor allowed per session, and each person will have a designated area to work out in.

David Lloyd has also started opening outdoor tennis courts at 70 sites.

Like other chains, some equipment has been moved apart to allow for social distancing.

Customers are also being asked to arrive in their workout kit if possible.

In addition, David Lloyd has confirmed an increased cleaning routine to keep its gyms safe.

David Lloyd has 115 gym clubs across the country – see more details about the changes you can expect here.

Feelgood Fitness and Wellness Centre: Gyms will also use screens, as well as a one-way system to keep fitness fanatics safe.

There will also be a strict no stop and chat rules to keep fitness fanatics safe.

"It’s more important than ever that this valuable sector is again able to serve its members".

She added that the transmission of the virus is highly dependable on public behaviour.

"Our members demonstrated in the run up to closure just how dedicated they were to behaving responsibly and exercising safely within clubs.

"We are more than confident that, aided by the new facilities and changes we are implementing, they will continue to do so."

She said Total Fitness has worked on a range of measures which include rigorous cleaning regimes which demonstrate they are ready for business.

Despite this, one personal trainer told The Sun that many people have embraced exercising outside of a gym.

Cat Forrest, co-founder and trainer at Eastnine fitness app said many people will be keen to get back in the gym, but others will be nervous to return.

"The pandemic has been a game-changer for the industry and lockdown has shown that people don’t need expensive gyms to stay in shape.

"They have embraced the freedom that exercising in this new way is giving them – they're seeing positive results, feeling better in themselves and more positive about exercising, without the anxiety of potential judgement they fear in the gym.

"It's enabled a whole new group of people to exercise and that can only be a good thing."

'Struggling with zero revenues'

She did however add that people would be missing a sense of community they benefit from when they visit gyms. She did highlight though that people are still able to work out together in out door settings and can use apps for motivation.

One gym director however told The Sun that she was not surprised that the government had decided to leave gyms closed.

Lenka Chubuklieva, Director of RUMBLE GYM said the government hasn't considered the amount of businesses that this will have an impact on.

"Class based gyms with state of the art filtered ventilation systems have the possibility to allow only bookings of specific spots/treadmills/benches/boxing bags, managing the schedules in a way that not only controls the number of people entering the premisses at any given hour, but allows all equipment be cleaned after each use, as well as the floor area.

"It is very different to a classic gym open floor.

"We would have also hoped to get guidance on exactly how classes could take place outdoors and conditions for that as this would allow boutique fitness studios to re-start.

"We would have finally expected specific help from the government for the fitness industry as current announcement means operators are going to struggle even longer with zero revenues."

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