Gyms reopening was 'long time coming', says boss

The reopening of gyms after lockdown has been "a long time coming" according to a health club boss.

Kieran Goussaert, senior instructor and duty manager at The Shrewsbury Club, cleans a treadmill in preparation for the reopening
Kieran Goussaert, senior instructor and duty manager at The Shrewsbury Club, cleans a treadmill in preparation for the reopening

The government faced criticism over shutting down exercise facilities, especially given that colder weather and less daylight hours made it more difficult for people to keep fit and healthy during the second coronavirus lockdown, compared with the first.

When the latest lockdown was announced, Prime Minister Boris Johnson resisted calls from sporting bodies and MPs for fitness facilities to remain open, insisting that removing one part of the lockdown “Jenga block” would compromise the whole package.

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Dave Courteen, managing director of The Shrewsbury Club, sits on the members council for UK Active, a national body which lobbied the government to keep gyms open.

He believes it's a major relief for the industry to return, and gyms should never have closed in the first place.

"It's been a long time coming," he said. "The government needs to recognise that gyms help in this pandemic and aren't part of the problem. The fact that gyms open in all three tiers provides us with reassurance going forward.

"With news of the vaccines in the last week or so it feels like we have a bit more hope.

"It's exciting news and provides us with the opportunity to be able to continue trading and members can come back with confidence. Our staff are delighted to get back to work."

Jobs to be done at the club include testing the water, testing the gym equipment and heating up the pool. But there is less to do this time as coronavirus safety measures were already in place.

"I think this time round it's much easier. The first time it took us three or four weeks to get ready, but a lot of that work had already been done this time.

"Unless we go into Tier 3 indoor tennis can start again. A lot of our members like to play indoor. We'll be able to restart the kids coaching programmes and the development squads can get playing again.

"If we go into Tier 3 we won't be able to have indoor exercise classes, so we've set up cameras so that we can get an instructor in there and do classes online."

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